Providing a digital solution to assist low-literacy job seekers in finding and applying for job vacancies with the help of volunteer agents.
In 2018, the total number of unemployed people remained high, at above 192 million, and it was difficult to find decent employment opportunities that provide productive work, fair income, and security in the workplace.
Our prototype social computing system aims to address this important challenge by promoting sustainable economic growth and decent work for all, as outlined in United Nations sustainability goal 8. We have created a platform that allows agents from Indiana State's Department of Labor to assist low-literacy individuals in finding employment by connecting them with businesses.
The core problem that needs to be addressed is the limited access to job opportunities for low-literacy individuals due to their difficulty in navigating technology-driven job search processes.
We designed a platform that facilitates the connection between business owners seeking a workforce and agents who are willing to assist low-literacy job seekers in finding and applying for suitable vacancies. The main aim is to minimize the use of technology for these job applicants.
Primary users - Business owners and agents
Beneficiaries - Job applicants
Field research and narrowing down the problem, ideation, storyboarding, and agent module app design.
We conducted semi-structured interviews with 16 low-income workers.
Based on the results of 16 interviews, the primary discoveries are outlined below as the major findings.
"I got hired through my friend's referral as I had no idea whom to approach."
Absence of an equitable system
"Couldn't fill the application form as it was in English and I have limited reading & writing proficiency, so had to seek help from a friend."
Existence of a language barrier
"I wasn't aware of the work culture when I applied to this job."
Absence of a feedback system
Pain points to design opportunities
During this stage, our team explored the industry's best practices for addressing the challenges faced by low-literate job seekers.
We discovered that there are three commonly used types of solutions for connecting business owners with a low-literate workforce, which we considered in the development of our platform.
Drawing from the findings of this study, we have derived the following insights.
The current job search platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Craigslist are not suitable for low-literate job seekers.
These platforms often have a complicated user interface with advanced features that are difficult for low-literate users to navigate.
They also lack personalized support and resources for low-literate users, which can make it challenging for them to find and apply for suitable jobs.
Based on the literature survey, interviews, observations, and competitive analysis, we found that existing job search platforms do not effectively serve low-literate job seekers.
Consequently, two personas were developed - one for the business owner and the other for the job applicant.
The problem statement -
"How can we create a platform that minimizes the use of technology for low-literate job seekers and helps them find and apply for jobs?"
We decided to only use the affinity diagramming technique for two reasons.
It helped focus on the pressing needs of low-literacy job seekers by organizing the complex and multifaceted limitations they face.
Key points -
Johannes, a recent widow and mother of two kids who is passionate about textile weaving, finds a job through the app with Blaire, a small textile business owner who is seeking weavers at a budget-friendly price.
Johannes lost her corporate job due to the recession and wants to pursue her passion in textile weaving, but doesn't know where to find related jobs.
As a new textile business owner, Blaire cannot afford high labor costs and struggles to find weavers who are willing to work for his offered price.
Johannes uses our application to find various job opportunities while Blaire uses it to post vacancies for his textile business.
Johannes and Blaire find each other through the app and Johannes is successfully hired by Blaire.
However, this approach posed a challenge because it still relied on technology-driven job search processes, which the low-literate population struggles with.
Josh, a builder in need of construction workers, and Jeffery, a contractor with a surplus of workers without ongoing work, use the app to connect and complete a successful contract together.
Josh is a builder but finds himself shortage of construction workers as they have migrated back to their home country due to covid.
Jeffery is a contractor who manages construction workers for various projects and is left with few of them without any ongoing work.
Both of them discover our application to be able to satisfy each others requirement.
Josh works with labor provided by Jeffery and completes his contract successfully.
To fully address the issue of limited job opportunities for low-literacy individuals, a comprehensive approach is needed that serves the needs of all job seekers, not just those who are connected with an agent.
Business owner posting a job vacancy.
Business owners can create new job vacancies by providing information about the position, such as job title, duties, required skills, and experience.
The platform also allows business owners to create, manage, and review job vacancies, filter job applicants based on qualifications and experience, and communicate with candidates and agents through the platform.
Agent adding new candidate to the database.
Agents can add new candidates to their database and track their skills, preferences, and job search progress, ensuring that they match the right candidates with the right job vacancies.
Agents can efficiently match job vacancies with suitable candidates by reviewing a list of job applicants, and applying for specific jobs based on the job requirements and applicant's skills and experience.
Job applicant contacting the agent.
Applicant contacts agent and provides their interests and experience for agent to add to the database.
Agent provides the applicant with a list of open job vacancies based on their preferences and provides further assistance.
Agent sends job description and details of particular jobs to the applicant based on their interests.
Testing and evaluation
We performed usability testing with 4 potential users and 4 experts to assess the feasibility and key usability issues of the proposed tool using the think-aloud protocol and recorded our observations.
Add a new job posting as a business owner.
Add new candidate’s information on the agent’s database.
We found that all participants were able to successfully complete these tasks, indicating that the platform's design was intuitive and user-friendly.
Participants were able to easily post new job vacancies as a business owner.
Participants were able to add new candidates to the database without any difficulties.
What did not work
..the dashboard's real-time data is overwhelming due to its crowded display.
..confusing sections on the dashboard.
We removed cluttered and confusing sections from the dashboard to make it easier to navigate and understand the real-time data presented on the platforms.
How will employers, agents, and applicants connect with one another?
..the communication between employer and agent is unclear.
We made changes to the sidebar menu on the platform to facilitate better communication between agents and business owners.This modification enables a clear channel for employers and agents to connect and interact with each other efficiently.
The term "members" was not specific enough for the platform, and caused confusion for users. "Candidate profiles" is a more specific and descriptive term that accurately represents the type of users on the platform.
..applying for each candidates for specific jobs seems cumbersome.
We discovered that agents were unable to select multiple candidates before applying for a specific job, which was an important feature we had overlooked.
We incorporated this feature into the design to streamline the application process and enable agents to apply to a specific job with multiple candidates
Disagreements among team members about the project's direction or approach, resulting in delays and misunderstandings.
I ensured that the project direction was aligned with the problem statement by providing constructive feedback and critiquing suggestions about including financial information for employers and adding labor laws for applicants.
Effective communication is crucial for a successful project. It's important to align everyone's understanding of the project goals and objectives to prevent misunderstandings and delays.
Include an onboarding process to provide clarity about the purpose and use of the application.
Use consistent spacing, icon style, and dimensions, and a limited number of colors to improve the overall aesthetic and usability of the app.
Include a feedback system to enable users to highlight any grievances or issues.
Conduct a UX audit to identify and address any additional issues with the design and functionality of the app.