You can lead a horse to water but can you make it drink?

Mixing metaphors, the elephant in the corner of outplacement is the extent to which job seekers accept and act on the guidance they are offered.  A good many do.  They take advantage of the knowledge and experience offered them and benefit accordingly.  But a meaningful proportion does not.  For reasons such as cynicism, depression, pessimism, disillusionment and lack of confidence they simply don’t engage with the process.  A negative spiral kicks in and the consequences can be long-term unemployment.

This is very frustrating for all concerned.  The people who work at my company, MyWorkSearch, and our competitors get up in the morning with the intention of helping job seekers.  We passionately care about the results we achieve and are saddened by those who don’t take the useful guidance that is made available to them.

This is the leading the horse to water bit.  But what about the drinking?

Last year, in October, I wrote about how we had identified this as an area we wanted to research ( and stated that I would return to this as a topic.  Since then we have made considerable progress.  Our research has helped us discover the areas to focus on and our design and development teams have made great strides in implementing improvements.  For example:

Usability is an area we have to work really hard on as if it is difficult or not obvious what to do next a proportion of people will give up.  We have transformed MyWorkSearch with a comprehensive redesign. We have looked at ‘user journeys’ and tried to eliminate the areas where a person can get confused and cease activities.

Allowing flexibility whilst providing the option of a guided route.  Some people want the freedom to self-serve our advice, content and tools.  Others want to be guided through a stepped process.  One size does not fit all and providing this choice removes usage barriers.

Sometimes there is provision for a person to assist individuals as they progress on their path to re-employment.  Knowing who is succeeding and who needs help is key to providing targeted assistance that makes the most of this expensive resource.  We therefore developed a reporting engine that allows a person to see who amongst a group is effectively using MyWorkSearch and the job seekers that would benefit from personal assistance.

The above are all hygiene areas.  They are the basics of a sensibly designed system.  Although they may not be easy to get right we know that they are essential for an effective online re-employment solution.  The area that has most long-term potential and goes above these quality foundations is our Nudge Engine.

Our Nudge Engine is designed to understand each job seeker as an individual and provide personalised guidance and prompts that nudge the person towards the best outcome possible.  Through understanding human psychology and statistics we can populate our Nudge Engine with rules that help each person get the most from MyWorkSearch.

We started work on the Nudge Engine a few months ago and it is about to go live.  We see these personalised small steps as the key to helping individuals succeed.  I will let you know how we progress.