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‘What a feeling’

by Arabella Garvey

11th Dec 2018

Disclaimer! Though those of a certain generation may now be picturing female welders, leg-warmers, and big hair (all those not of this generation take a quick YouTube search for Irene Cara and Flashdance) this 1983 pop classic actually serves to introduce a few thoughts on the design of talent acquisition solutions, and of the application of the design thinking methodology.

The thoughts started to form after a meeting with a good friend recently. She had been looking for a new job and when we met, she also spoke passionately about what she had been experiencing during her job search. I have worked within talent acquisition for over twenty years, and my LinkedIn feed fills with great papers referencing the importance of the talent, business and recruiter experience but as I listened to my friend talk, what truly resonated was her emphasis on what that experience had made her feel.

Said friend is a bright, well-informed and logical individual, focused on finding the right move. But though she had done her research into the company, the people she had met had been smart and the role relevant, the recruitment interactions had in themselves created a feeling of who the organisation were, and what value they might place upon her if she was their employee.  In her experience, every required interaction had been in place, but the manner of their delivery had been flawed – an application acknowledgement but no ‘next steps’ information, an interview scheduled but to the wrong location, and no clear communication options for her to let the organisation know that she had been offered a role with a different company so she needed a quick decision. Every recruitment interaction had created a feeling of doubt.

There are articles in scientific journals debating whether systematic assessment or emotional intuition is the most valid basis for decision-making, and indeed whether it is even possible to make a decision without emotional bias. However, irrespective of where you land on this the importance of feelings created by the recruitment process should never be under-estimated, and this importance is one of the many reasons I advocate the application of ‘design thinking’ methodologies in my role as Head of Solution Design for Alexander Mann Solutions.

Design thinking focuses on empathising with human beings and considering inherently subjective concepts such as emotions, needs, motivations, and drivers of behaviours so as to create solutions that are typically more sensitive to the individual. In applying design thinking to the creation of talent acquisition solutions, we use insight and analytics to identify what the recruitment experiences need to be, why they should be bespoke to different needs and how ‘bots and bodies’ can blend resource and technology in delivery – and, critically, we evaluate and project what the recruitment interactions will make the different individuals feel. 

Someone explained to me, that every feeling begins with an external stimulus generating an unfelt emotion in the brain, which causes the body to produce responsive hormones which create feelings, sometimes negative and sometimes positive. As custodians of the recruitment experience, we have the ability to design and shape these external stimuli and that is both a huge responsibility and really exciting.  After all, whether an individual is looking for work for a few days, months or many years, the time involved in recruitment will always be short in contrast, so every interaction and every minute matters in creating a feeling that attracts talented, relevant, resource to join an organisation.


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