Research & prototype RE graduate employment

The following artefact has been designed to create social utility by educating and inspiring students interested in the following:

– Finding fulfilling employment

– Gaining understanding into the current state of graduate employment

– Learning about User Experience Design (UX) and User Interface Design

The artefact has been designed with reference to common tools utilized by User Experience Design practitioners. The tools are as follows; research, analysis and static prototype. These tools paint a very incomplete picture of the extent to which a UX process could potentially be conducted. However, due to time constraints I have chosen to prioritise on tools previously listed as I find them suitable for the given timeframe.

The problem

Between 2008 and 2014, the percentage of university graduates in full-time positions dropped from 56.4% to 41.7% (abc 2016). It is becoming increasingly hard for university students to find full time employment. This is due to a variety of factors including changes in economy and the substantial increase in students. Australian universities are expanding their outbound marketing efforts to increase the amount of both international and local students. The education industry is within the top two service exports alongside tourism and mining. The education industry is seen as a ‘super-growth sector’ that shows no signs of slowing down (Senator Hon Richard Colbek 2016). Increasing the amount of students may be good for our economy however, the decreasing rate of graduate employment shouldn’t be ignored. The following research has been designed to assist in solving a common problem faced by many university students in technical and creative industries – how does a university graduate acquire a job they find fulfilling?


1. Design and technical university graduates will have a better chance of getting a job they want if they have the assistance of a recruitment professional.

2. Recruitment professionals are willing to work with and give guidance to university graduates regardless of their level of expertise.

3. There is a current discounted between the two parties. If the two parties were to collaborate they could form a mutually beneficial relationship.

Reason for this report

The goal of this report is to find insights into what sorts of jobs people are seeking and the learn about the various paths they take in achieving employment. I’m eager to understand what the process is like for students, learn of their past experiences, what worries them and what actions they are taking. I am also interested in learning more about the state of the recruitment industry to try and gauge if there is a gap in the market. A study of 724 working Australians found that 87% of these people want to hear about new career opportunities (LinkedIn 2016). If 87% of working professionals are eager to hear about new career opportunities this percentage would be even higher for university graduates. Yet I believe that graduates are not being approached with opportunities not because they lack talent but rather because they lack connection to those who can help them.

In person interview findings

The majority of the students interviewed believe that it is necessary to do unpaid work before they should expect to be paid. This may be in the form of volunteering or unpaid internships.

Other interviewees thought that their is a degree of luck involved in the path to employment – that if you keep creating things, working on projects and / or volunteering you may ‘hit the jackpot’ and find a job that you like.

Some students believe that through doing university or community projects they would meet others who could potentially help them find a job. I also believe they saw these projects as a way to meet likeminded people with similar interests.

Applying for positions through online job boards was thought to be the most participle path to acquiring professional employment.

Key insights

It was clear that out of the 5 students from UOW that I interviewed none of them considered the possibility of seeking the assistance of a recruitment professional.

4 out of 5 students did not know as to what is involved in working with a recruitment professional. After the interviews I gave the students a brief overview of how a recruitment professional works, explaining that they help place people in employment in return for a percentage of that person’s salary. The students were skeptical at first due to there being no upfront costs. After they grasp the concept however, all 4 students seems to become open minded to the idea of working with recruitment professionals. The students still saw the possibility of being exploited as a negative aspect of the arrangement.

A summary of my thoughts:

– Students did not see a clear path to employment.

– Students interviewed believe unpaid work to be a necessary part of finding employment.

– Some students believed online job boards to be a possible way to acquire a job however,

– they thought the success rate of applying through job boards to be very low.

Recruiter interviews

As part of this research project I also wanted to talk with and gather insight from recruiters. I have met a handful of recruitment professionals in the past through networking events and specialised courses. Each time I have talked to a recruiter I have been fairly astonished with the amount of knowledge they have about the industry that they operate in. These professional are constantly researching companies in their niche so they are a wealth of information when it comes to understanding what skills are valuable. These recruiters are also mostly eager to have a conversation with students and provide free advice as they know that the relationship with them may be beneficials down the line.

The two recruiters that I talked with both said that they would be willing to have conversations with students with no prior working experience. They also mentioned that they would be willing to share advice and give guidance to students with no expectation for the favour to be returned. They were not sure however, if they would be willinging to have an ongoing working relationship with a someone with no experience if they had a feeling the person won’t succeed.

They believe that students with no prior experience could still have a chance of securing a full time position. If the student had a good understand of context they could be guided into obtaining professional employment.

Key insights

It seems that if a student seeking employment were to contact a recruiter it would surely be beneficial. Recruiters were very positive about the idea of students contacting them and were open to sharing valuable advice.

Recruiters typically have a very in depth understanding of the industry and people in general. They can help students gain better understanding as to what type of job may be best suited for them. If students are eager to find a job they like but are not yet sure on what it is that they want to do a recruiter would be a great place to start.

Insights from online survey

My online survey of 22 people that that 94% respondents explained their ideal job as something in a creative field. The respondents’ ideal jobs ranged from journalist in the beauty industry to designer in IT.

The majority of respondents thought that their chances of finding professional employment after university where only ‘somewhat likely’.  

The large majority (55%) of respondents believe that university students main method for seeking employment is via online job boards such as

38% of respondents claimed that they did not know what recruiters do and 52% had somewhat of an idea. 9.52% were confident they knew what a recruiter does.

An equal amount of people thought that recruiters were ‘good’ as did people think they were ‘only okay’ while just over 40% of people had mutual feelings towards recruiters.


I will keep this conclusion brief as I have already included short ‘insights’ sections throughout. My key takeaway is that the students I have interacted with seem to have no clear understanding of the next steps in finding a job they want. The majority of students thought job boards to be a practical tool for getting interviews however, a study of over 2,500 full-time employees found that only 18% of these people got their job by applying through a job board (The Opportunity index).

The majority of my research findings did in fact work to confirm my hypothesis however, I am concerned that there was not enough variety in my research. All of the university students I had in person interviews with were from UOW. Due to the location of UOW it may be acceptable to assume that these students have less chance of encountering recruitment professionals compared students in metropolitan areas. The recruiters I interviewed mentioned that meeting in-person with potential candidates is an important part of their work. Considering Sydney CBD homes most of the recruitment professional in Sydney it is not as likely that a student from UOW would come in contact compared to a student from Sydney University.

With this information I plan on developing a platform that connects students with recruitment professionals.  The following static wireframes and prototype display the online platform. You can see how both students and recruiters can create user profiles and interact. Students will have the ability to search for recruiters in their area and recruiters can search for students. When landing on either profile the user has the opportunity to read a little about the person’s personality and background while also seeing their prior experience and / or projects.  From here either party may choose to make contact via email or mobile.


Click on the thumbnails to enlarge:


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