If you asked me why I became a technical recruiter right of college, it was:
- a paying job in the recession when the pickings were slim for recent college graduates in 2011
- an opportunity to move out of my parents house and to a big city
- going to be a fun opportunity to help people to find jobs
I spent the next five years fighting against the fact that's reason #3 was not what I was hired to do.
A tech recruiter's job is to help companies find qualified candidates to do their jobs - NOT help people find jobs, and certainly not build fulfilling careers.
It's a small distinction, but one that made a huge difference to my level of personal happiness and so, five years later, I quit recruiting to go out on my own career consulting business helping individuals in the tech and startup sector create fulfilling careers using the knowledge I had gained from recruiting. I was much, much happier.
And, of course, I needed a website.
I kept a number of business goals in mind with this website, apart from being visually appealing:
- to establish my legitimacy in the midst of a career pivot (because what serious, self-employed person in the digital age doesn't have a website?)
- to make me money indirectly by marketing my services to a highly technical audience of potential clients in a way they would trust and engage with
- to (over time) position me as a subject matter expert through creating engaging blog content and perhaps a monetized subscription portal where I could create an engaging community of readers and clients
- to build an asset I could one day sell for millions and millions of dollars (pipe dream, yes, but you never know :)
The moment I went into business for myself, priority #1 was to not-not have a website. The absence of a web presence would hurt me more than anything else.
Which is why it wasn't a problem that I built the first version myself in under 24 hours using GoDaddy's website builder platform.
The problem was that it stayed static for over a year. The old site was, truthfully, little more than a landing page:
Screenshot courtesy of waybackmachine - the archive skewed the graphics but you get the idea.)
After completing General Assembly's User Experience course I wanted to revisit the design and apply some of the UX principles I had learned to make it a more effective marketing tool.
What I didn't expect was how the UX Design process would help me flesh out some business decisions of my own, beyond site design. I will talk about that soon.
I asked myself,
How might we create a website that communicates my services, expertise, and competitive advantage in such a way that potential customers want to work with me?
Below is a walkthrough of a few of the design decisions I made. The timeline is now open and evolving.
Site layout choices were primarily drawn from competitor research of five similar career coaches in the New York.
Additionally, I conducted user interviews by having two clients of mine view my existing site against these competitor websites to gain insight into what services appealed to them.
Findings from competitor research included that competitors tended to not specialize in the industry of customers that they served, and half listed their price list on their website. Three offered coaching services exclusively, the other two included products and services in addition.
Findings from user interviews that were incorporated into my site included that users tended to gravitate towards sites with coaches they felt were 'approachable' based on 1) language and 2) photos of human beings. Users rarely clicked on tabs other than the services and about page, and preferred services pages which were easily findable and had prices listed. If prices weren't listed they assumed that they would not be able to afford them.
Below is an example of how I incorporated these choices into my services page:
As I have been prospecting clients for the last year, I have identified that there are three types of people in my audience:
- people who do not understand the point of my services ('can't people do that themselves?')
- people who see that my services would be helpful, but are reluctant or unwilling to invest money ('I want to try to do it on my own first')
- people who are interested in my services and are willing to invest in their value either now or in the future ('that sounds awesome!')
Type #1 will not work with me because they don't need to - they have no problem solving their own career problems, often for free
Type #2 might work with me some day, but only with much reluctance and may still think I charge to much
Type #3 will see my services as an investment, and will generally start working with me in 1-2 months of deciding to look for a job
After conducting the competitor research described above I identified that my prices which I had set earlier in the year were actually quite low by competitor standards.
The price isn't really the issue for anyone but client #2 - so as long as they aren't outrageous by industry standards I can raise my prices accordingly.
Resume Rewrite prices
Before | After
I signed two new clients the next month for resume rewriting contracts, doubling the previous months revenue.
One of the biggest complaint of my clients is that the recruiting process makes candidates feel dehumanized - like you're just a resume or one of a thousand candidates.
I don't want career consulting to feel like that. And certainly the user research backs me up - users respond better to friendly and welcoming web presences.
I couldn't use my own client photographs for obvious reasons of privacy. But I wanted to show the diversity of their experiences. It is undeniable that the tech industry has both a gender and diversity problem, but I also know my clients are more diverse than most whitewashed corporate stock images would have you believe.
And so I made sure to identify stock source images that reflected the diversity of the audience I serve:
Photos courtesy of Women of Color in Tech stock images and pexels
The site update went live June 28.
The ad-hoc feedback I have received has indicated general approval of the site. A technical friend suggested including more text contrast on images and so I added diffused boxes. My intern still thinks that the mission statement is too long. So we're working on it.
For now, I am pleased that the new design is an improvement over the old one in terms of marketing my business to my audience.
But how do we know if it works?
by the Numbers
Is there an increase in user traffic?
The updated site just went live in June '17, traffic remained steady in July and August.
Statistics courtesy of GoDaddy.com
any sales increase?
I gained two new clients in the 30 days following the site launch. They came from my direct network. While they certainly received my website and contact info, both received a host of other information that would have influenced their decision to work with me. Moving forward,but I will be sure to ask for client feedback in my sales process.
And, of course, user research and feedback about the user experience will remain vital as I continue to improve the website and build my business.