Designing Recruiters: How Design Thinking Can Change Recruitment

Digital has blurred the lines and requirements for many jobs today and also within recruitment. Therefore, understanding and applying design processes…


Digital has blurred the lines and requirements for many jobs today and also within recruitment. Therefore, understanding and applying design processes is crucial for digital transformation and innovation to take place.

This is something that I’m really excited to share, and the beginning of a series of blog posts about the impact of design methodologies on our daily workflows as recruiters.

You would be forgiven for never mentioning design and recruitment in the same conversation. But, for a while now, I’ve straddled both sectors and the crossover is indispensable. As a design leader and now as a talent strategist, my approach to problem-solving has always been the same – people first.

Digital has blurred the lines and requirements for many of today’s roles and also our own tasks and roles in recruitment are changing dramatically. Understanding and applying design processes is of huge importance for digital transformation and innovation. It focuses our attention on customer experience and helps us to stay future fit. If we understand ourselves as problem solvers, creating human-centred service experiences, then we can learn from current design methodologies. Therefore I´d like to invite you to think and act more like Designing Recruiters*.

Why apply design processes?

A CareerBuilder study gathered data on negative candidate experiences while applying for jobs, and the overall quality of their experiences was low. Historically, recruitment has had a negative reputation, which needs to shift, and I am sure that the lack of attention on ‘experience’ is a key contributor to this.

  • 42% of candidates with negative experiences said they would never consider employment at the company again
  • 22% of candidates with negative experiences said they’d actively tell others not to work for that company

Human-centric recruiters

To create a positive service experience, the focus should always be on the candidate – client relationship. This is a human-to-human sector and our aim should be to improve the lives of those we touch. To make a true impact, we need to deeply understand the psyche of the individuals we speak to and the experience we give them.

Design processes do a great job of enabling this. They allow you to define, disrupt, and rebuild processes in a human-centric way. By applying these structures and methodologies, we are all forced to think differently.

Consider yourself a designer

Recently, UIE founder Jared Spool, tweeted, “We live in an era where all can become Designers. In the sense that anyone who influences what the Design becomes is a Designer”.

Applying a ‘design-thinking’ framework enables transformation and evolution. Some people may prefer to call this ‘process ownership’, where they look at the end-to-end processes that influence customer decisions – before and beyond the physical design itself.

At Cogs, we’ve started to think about design as a process rather than a skill. It utilises a systematic approach with several participants, all sharing the common goal to deliver the best possible service experience.

On a practical level, we have started to apply visual management processes adapted from Kanban. It supports decisions on what, when, and how we operate. It’s a visual interpretation of the pipeline but also of all things that need to be done, making the process tangible, observable, and transparent.

By creating a visual model of our work and workflow, we are also more sensitive to potential bottlenecks. Ultimately, it increases velocity and flow from briefing over placement to retention and therefore success.

In my next post, I’ll present a practical, step-by-step model for applying “design thinking”  to recruitment. And I’m sure that the same methodologies could apply to any organisation that is looking to enhance its customer experience.

*My colleague, Julian Klomsdorf coined the term “Designing Recruiters”. He is currently training in UX to become a true advocate of this thinking.

This post was originally published on LinkedIn.

For questions on this topic or any talent solutions request, please connect with Jan or reach him at

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