Developing next-generation digital employment tools to support low resource job seekers

Project Type: UX Research and Prototyping
Team: Jason Lam, Alex Lu, Tawanna Dillahunt, Earnest Wheeler
Contribution: Concept development, speed-dating workshop, survey, prototyping


Modern Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) support job searches, resume creation, career development, and professional self-presentation. According to a 2015 Pew Research report, Americans who could benefit the most from using socio-technical systems to support their employment endeavors are the ones who find these tools most challenging to use. Despite this, information and communication technologies (ICTs) have done little to support individuals who do not have the knowledge, skills, or experience to participate in these online venues. Further, while employment researchers have established that companies seek higher-skilled employees from sites such as LinkedIn, now even government services and companies seeking employees without a 4-year degree are moving their employment and recruiting process online This leaves fewer opportunities to encounter recruiters face-to-face and to connect to social and other job resources.


  • Discover what digital tools would best support low resource job seekers

  • Determine what barriers face job seekers interested in using digital tools

  • Provide framework to assess future digital tools


Informing the design concepts - literature search

We gathered insights from the literature and generated ten tangible design concepts to address the needs of underserved job seekers. The concepts were based on the theory of planned behavior and included personal, social and societal needs. 

synthesizing feedback from users - speed dating workshop

A speed dating workshop was conducted utilizing storyboards that illustrated each concept. The storyboards consisted of 4 panels with the first panel describing the problem, the second panel describing how people would hear about the product, the third panel describing the product, and the last panel describing the value of using the product. The storyboards were presented in random order, then participants were asked to read each one, rank them, and explain their ranking. 

validating and generalizing results - Survey

After completing the speed dating workshop, we wanted to validate the results and see whether it would is representative of the larger population. The survey was conducted with 263 participants and was designed to test how demographics, job search self-efficacy, and access to technology impact preferences for digital tools. I performed multinomial regression, hypothesis testing, and descriptive analysis to assess this relationship.


We discovered that participants preferred digital tools that addressed immediate, personal needs. Even in cases where participants would benefit from long term career planning, they still valued these types of tools. When comparing tools that helped with specific job search functions, like preparing for an interview or getting feedback on their CV, participants were significantly more interested in these tools and were willing to pay approximately $5 more to use them.  This meant that design concepts that favored long term, career planning were seen as less desirable, even if they produced better outcomes in terms of job satisfaction and stability. Age and income were determined to be important predictors that impacted participant needs and preferences. While many participants had access to the internet, there was significant variation in familiarity with different digital tools with digital literacy being a major barrier. 


Our findings provided a framework to evaluate digital employments tools and gave insight to what underserved job seekers wanted. The results were published in ACM SIGCHI 18 and went on to inform which design concepts to prioritize for the team. A prototype of  Dream Gigs, a tool to help job seekers find job opportunities that align with career goals, was developed based on one of the design concepts.