Leadline partners with Loyola University Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business to future-proof product roadmap and bring experiential learning to students interested in technology careers.
We spent a semester with graduating Loyola University students to learn how our future workforce perceives recruiting technology.
We sell recruiting software to employers, but we build software for candidates. We do this because employers can’t successfully recruit great individuals if they can’t deploy a hiring process in which candidates want to stay engaged from start to finish.
Part of this task requires us to occasionally look at the future workforce, their interests, and their perception of what it means to find a job. So, to brake-check our product’s viability for future generations, we spent a semester with graduating university students taking a class specifically on designing and analyzing software systems and asked them to pick it apart.
What could possibly go wrong?
Nestled in the heart of Baltimore, Maryland, Loyola University’s Information Systems Design & Analysis course, instructed by Professor Shelley Bliss, met weekly on Monday nights with 27 students enrolled at the university’s Sellinger School of Business. As a course covering all things related to technology and software, it naturally attracted diverse students from marketing and data analytics to IT and cyber security. Marketing students offered insights into branding and messaging. Management students focused on organizational efficiency, data analytics students delved into the performance metrics, and cyber security students tested all the industry-standard best practices. It was like having a mini think tank with experts from various fields converging on a single project.
Today’s average 20/21-year-old was born in 2002/2003 (when the first seasons of American Idol and the iPod were huge). So, how they interact with technology and what they consider ‘standard’ or ‘expected’ differs greatly from those living through the digital ‘transformation’ era.
First, we have about 65 new items to add to our roadmap (50 of which we have already considered and 17 already in production). But here are the top 3 lessons we learned during the semester-long engagement:
- Employer branding matters. The balance between “what you do” and “who you work for” is important when deciding where to start the job search process.
- “Remote” means “Remote”. With remote work being the new norm (thanks a lot, COVID), younger generations are actively seeking fully remote opportunities. It’s important to be very careful when choosing to use these words in a job posting.
- Technology Adopters are Attractive. Younger generations are more tech-savvy at 18 than previous generations. They are aware of ‘the algorithm’ and how certain technologies are designed to operate—that also means they might know how to navigate or ‘game’ them. If your recruiting technology isn’t modern, you immediately lose great candidates before they even give you a real chance. By the way, relying on job boards to solve this problem isn’t the answer (check out the r/recruitinghell forum on Reddit for proof).
We dove deep into the weeds of our target audience. Leadline has taken pride in asking the hard questions and meeting candidates at eye level to see the problems they face and the friction they experience when applying for jobs. The theme of applications that lead nowhere, candidates spending an hour on an application never to hear back, the candidate that had to create a login and start a color-coded spreadsheet to keep track of it before making a new login for the next application. The list of horror stories goes on. We were able to hear about these experiences firsthand, and we took advantage of the opportunity to use this data to influence the future of recruiting directly.
As the baby boomer generation inches closer to retirement, Generation Z will inevitably become the next wave of candidates entering the job market. Acknowledging this generation’s unique preferences, expectations, and technological fluency is so important. The fresh perspectives and tech-savvy insights these students brought opened up new dimensions to our understanding of user experiences. And here’s something else worth mentioning – the next generation of recruiters, professional social networkers, and talent acquisition managers will be that much more powerful because they grew up fundamentally understanding this stuff.
So, in the end, the project was a huge success. It wasn’t just about identifying areas for improvement; it also shed light on the features that resonated most with the students. Their feedback on the user interface, ease of navigation, and overall user experience will prove invaluable as we continue to refine our product. It was particularly enlightening to see what elements of our platform naturally aligned with the preferences of the upcoming workforce.
The Journey Continues
The partnership between Leadline and Loyola University Maryland doesn’t stop with the Systems Design & Analysis course. As part of fostering experiential learning with students, Leadline is excited to continue this engagement with a new spring semester with an Project Management course that allows the students to review how project management is carried throughout a product to build successful teams, features, launches, and happy customers. We can’t wait to take them along for the next six months of real-life tech adventures!