How to Use The Design Thinking Process in Hiring: Part 1
March 22, 2019 | Design Thinking
by ExperiencePoint

How to Use The Design Thinking Process in Hiring: Part 1Talk to any human resources professional, recruiter, or hiring manager and they’ll tell you about the great unemployment rate paradox. It’s a seller’s market for good talent, forcing recruiters to get creative about their hiring strategy.

That’s where design thinking comes in. While most people think of design thinking as a tool to create more innovative products, or marketing campaigns, it can be a great technique to improve hiring.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate is at a historic low right now: 3.8 percent overall. That’s great for the economy, right? More people working, earning a paycheck, buying goods and services — it’s what makes the economic world go around.

But it’s not all wine and long-stemmed roses when you’re talking to someone who is charged with hiring top talent for key positions, or even (let’s face it) average talent for entry-level positions. There simply aren’t a lot of people looking for work right now at any rung on the white or blue collar ladder, which has turned hiring into a competitive contact sport. It’s like Hunger Games out there if you’re trying to hire good people. And the odds may not be in your favor.

Sure, paying a lot more than your competition is one way to snag the best people for the job, but that’s not always (or ever) a feasible solution, or the best solution even if it is feasible. It takes creativity, and thinking way, way outside the box, to attract, hire and retain top talent in this kind of job market.

Design thinking can get you out of that box and into a talent pool teeming with potential candidates. The design thinking process may feel a little wonky for recruiters, because they have to get inside the heads of people on both sides of the hiring coin: job seekers and…that’s right, themselves. Why? Because recruiters (and hiring managers) are the ones with the problem to solve. Job seekers are holding all the cards, skipping blithely from interview to interview, knowing they can afford to hold on for just the right fit. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have issues to solve, too.

So, the first step in the design thinking process is to gather information about HR’s own challenges. It’s a tight labor market out there, but that 3.8 percent figure is an aggregate of all job seekers. Drill a little deeper and you’ll find a more accurate figure that is broken down by age group.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the unemployment rates as of October 2018:

So, what does that tell recruiters? It gives them a new way to look at the problem they’re facing, based on not the age of the person they’re seeking — but on the level of experience they’re looking for. Depending on whether you are hiring for entry level, mid-level or senior position, you face different challenges in terms of the size and skill of your potential labor pool.

In industries like food service and retail, that typically employ part-time, younger workers, an unemployment rate of 8.3 percent doesn’t look so bad. Whereas if they are hiring entry or mid-level corporate workers, 3.6 percent is sobering. And, if they’re looking to replace seasoned pros with a career of experience behind them, the numbers are downright bleak.

When recruiters take the time to understand their specific labor pool (their customers), rather than the entire nation of candidates, it will help them get into the heads of those job seekers to come up creative benefits that will attract them.

Next, it’s time to think about budget, benefits, and any leeway or wiggle room recruiters have in job negotiations. Sleeves rolled up, armed with those age stats and budgetary limitations, they need to get out of their own heads and into the minds of job seekers. And that’s where we’ll pick it up next time.


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