Ever tried applying to your dream PM, Designer, or Developer role through LinkedIn?
The job posting may have 100+ applications, but you decide to still give it a shot.
You submit your application and then wait… and wait some more. Eventually, you get a templated email saying they won’t be moving forward with your application.
Sound familiar? Landing your dream role in the tech industry isn’t easy!
There are plenty of open opportunities with businesses predicted to lose 70% of tech employees this year with the Great Resignation.
However, getting noticed and standing out is hard. Especially if you are early in your career and from a non-traditional background where you don’t tick all the boxes.
This is a problem close to our hearts as everyone in our team has persevered through this exact challenge. We created Mesh to help tech talent explore a more effective approach to launch their careers.
Research Insights & User Pain Points
We found in our user research that many early career candidates were not getting traction when applying for jobs through traditional methods like:
1. Submitting resumes and/or CVs through LinkedIn job postings
2. Cold outreaching to recruiters, hiring managers, and employees within companies
This lack of traction led to feelings of frustration and decreased motivation.
We noticed a small segment of candidates that were getting traction through networking. Those that focused on building their network opened up new relationships which helped launch their career.
This is reflected in our industry research with CareerHorizons reporting that 70-80% of all jobs are not published online - meaning that the vast majority of hiring is friends and acquaintances hiring other trusted friends and acquaintances.
Jeff Weiner, Former CEO, LinkedIn, highlights the ‘network gap’ as a significant challenge for tech talent. This refers to the advantage some people have over others in accessing opportunity based on where they grew up, where they went to school, and where they work.
Furthermore, LinkedIn Survey participants indicate that 73% have been hired as a result of someone they know making an introduction or a connection, or because they had a personal connection to someone within the company. The problem is that too few aspiring tech talent are effectively networking. Many feel unsure of how to network with unfamiliar people and intimidated by putting themselves out there. We believe online industry events are a unique opportunity to bridge this network gap and to help tech talent make meaningful connections that open career opportunities. While a complete solution to building a professional network is beyond the scope of our MVP, we will start with small steps toward the solution: event discoverability and notes.
Problem statement: How might we make it easier for tech talent to discover industry events and organize their professional network so that they can build meaningful connections that launch their career?
Mesh is a mobile web app to help explore industry events and organize your professional network:
Mesh has two key features that we are launching:
Event Feed: Our discoverability feature curates event listings from online sources like Meetup® and presents users with a minimalistic event feed where they can explore industry events fit for their needs. The feed consists of Event Cards which provide key details of the event. Users can click through the Event Card to the Meetup® listing and register for, save, and share the event.
Notes: Our notes feature allows users to write notes about who they met and what they learned at specific industry events. When users save these notes, it will also save the Event Card in the Notes tab. Users then have an organised system for managing learnings and follow up actions after an event.
Original Hifi Mockups
Iterative Design Learnings
We created a Figma prototype based on our HiFi Mockups. We conducted 8 usability tests across 3 weeks. Each week we had core learnings which drove the Design iteration for the following week.
Our users wanted to better understand the Mesh value proposition before creating an account. We built an onboarding sequence to further explain the Mesh value proposition, while increasing user engagement.
Users didn’t value the Save Event or Share Event feature. We initially thought the ability to Save Events would remind users to attend and the ability to Share Events would help users find colleagues to attend with. We learned that users would get this job done through Google Calendar and Share features from pre-existing event platforms. We de-scoped these features and built a new Notes feature instead.
While we had an aspiration to help tech talent to build their professional network, this was beyond the scope and time constraints of the Mesh MVP. We changed our designs to better reflect the key solution of Event discoverability and Event notes.
After having a design-developer discussion, we decided that using the Auth0 package for authentication was much simpler than rolling out our own authentication methods from a technical feasibility standpoint. This was due to time constraints and changes in development contributions. We put our existing authentication designs on the back burner in favor of using Auth0 and their integrated styling.
Final Hifi Mockups
Mesh is initially a mobile-web application.
Our stack uses the following technologies and languages:
- Netlify - for hosting and deployment
- Node.js - backend server language
- Axios - a promise-based HTTP Client for node.js
- Cheerio - a lean implementation of jQuery for the server
- Auth0 - User Authentication
- PostGres - SQL Database
The high level flow of a user request is detailed below:
The hardest part of the development process is sourcing the Industry Event data from 3rd party sources. We originally conducted API research and were unable to retrieve the required event data. We pivoted to building our own web scraper which took additional effort but gave us the data we required.
In our MVP, we will use a volatile Event Feed which will refresh every 12 hours.
As our event sources continue to grow, we may encounter some scaling challenges in how we can best filter and curate the right industry events for tech talent.
We will continue to develop Mesh as an open source community project.
We have additional opportunities to help tech talent network effectively to launch their career.
Some of these opportunities might be:
- Playbooks to prepare for industry events
- Building contact profiles for connections made at industry events
- Mechanisms to share interesting content with fellow event participants
- Followup reminders to help build relationships after industry events
We will keep exploring this as a passion project to keep paying it forward for tech talent who are starting to build their professional networks.
Product Manager Learnings:
- Importance of an inclusive and supportive product development process
- Building skills beyond opportunity validation through to delivering a MVP
- Developing product sense: spotting user signals and make sharp product prioritization decisions as a team
- Importance of communicating designs to devs early on in the process
- How to pivot user stories and prioritize design scope to create a product that will help solve user problems but is also feasible within technical and time constraints
- The importance of creating an integrated design file and how to communicate how the design file and prototypes work as the only designer in a team with others unfamiliar with design software
- Importance of communicating how much effort and time will be spent coding each piece of design
- How many non code related technical issues can occur while building a full-stack application
- The importance of communicating with your designer often to make sure each member is on the same page about every detail, then relaying that information to the product manager so they can plan accordingly