Chen Zhang Design Portfolio

Job Opportunities for Passive Candidates

Design an experience that presents job opportunities to a passive candidate to gain interests in a new position, and garner a response.

Design Prompt 


LinkedIn is a network of over 500 million professionals. We use the power of professional networking and profile data to connect individuals with relevant opportunities. Hiring managers and recruiters are frequently interested in people who are already employed or satisfied with their current positions.

Design Task

Design an experience that presents job opportunities to a passive candidate, who is not actively looking for a new position. Find creative solutions that gains the passive candidate's interest in a new position, and garners a response.


Problem Definition & Research Assumptions

User Interviews

I started off with some initial questions:

  • What's the definition of a passive candidate ? 
  • What are the motivations and reluctance that people considering when changing to a new job? 
  • What do candidates usually check and consider before people make the final decision to accept a new job position? 
  • Why do people use LinkedIn platform? (Value Propositions) 
  • How does LinkedIn monetize from its products and features? (Business Strategy)

In order to better understand the target user groups (passive candidate), I did 5 in-depth user interviews to gather some qualitative data about our persona. I reached out to some of my colleagues and friends, and we had about 30min causal chat each about these questions above.

Based on the 2014 Talent Trends survey data from LinkedIn, about 75% of fully-employed professionals describe themselves as passive candidates, whereas only 25% are actively looking for a new job. 

LinkedIn Talent Trends 2014

After gathering preliminary qualitative data from the interviews and online research, I define the passive job candidate as someone who is employed currently, but not being proactive in the interview mode to look for a new job. I assume a few characteristics for this group of candidates: 

 (Context) Passive candidates are content about their current employer, and quite picky about making a move because:

  • They may just land a new position and only have worked at a new place for a few months;
  • They feel that it's quite a hassle to prepare for interviews and learn new skills to get ready for a new job; 
  • Their mindset is not 100% focused on the job as they have some other priorities (family, travel plans or personal hobby) at hand; 

– (User Needs) Passive candidates are still open to hear new job opportunities even if they're not actively interviewing because: 

  • They want better compensations & benefits;
  • They want to work for a company that is in the hot product space and catch up with industry trends;
  • They want more challenging projects to get themselves out of their comfort zone;
  • They want to have better career growth opportunities (promotion & impact);
  • They want to have better work-life-balance (less work overtime, commute time and business travel)

Target Users & User Needs


– (Context) Passive candidates usually don't prepare themselves fo the interview process for a new job. They're not ready. 

  • They may not have an up-to-date resume or CV;
  • When a new job opportunity is in front of them, they may not do any research about that company, product or team;
  • They may not prepare themselves for the interview tests such as design portfolio presentation, engineering coding whiteboard exercises and behavior questions. 

– Passive candidates usually wonder why the new job opportunity can be a good match, so they typically will do the following next steps if they have interest but hesitations:

  • Reach out to their personal connections to know more company insights; 
  • Read about company news and social media updates to know company culture, vision and industry trends;
  • Prepare for the interview process such as portfolio presentation, engineering coding tests and behavior questions. Learn new skills and industry trends by taking some online classes. 

Linkedin Value Propositions

Since this is to improve the user experience for the existing LinkedIn platform, I want to step back to think about the big picture about why candidates choose to use LinkedIn as the professional network. 

  • Over 500M professionals are in the platform;
  • Job opportunities; 
  • Online resume and professional profile;
  • Company news;
  • Connection updates; 
  • Learn new skills (LinkedIn Learning)

LinkedIn BUsiness & Monetization Strategy

  • User acquisition and retention; 
  • Paid service: Premium account subscriptions;
  • Paid service: LinkedIn Learning; 
  • Paid service: Talent solution, Sales & Marketing solution etc

I decided to design for mobile based on LinkedIn product usage data tracking that about 60% of unique visiting traffic are on mobile platform by Q3 2016. 

Product Platform

Ideate & Sketch


Problem Assumptions and Workflows

Wireframe Sketch

Refine Wireframes & Design Visual Pixels 


High-level Workflow and Main Use Cases Diagram


Use Case 1– Vertical Job Match Experience


Option A: Card pattern is used to present the curated job match opportunities to users, and we can have horizontal cards or stacked cards to visually represent multiple job opportunities. I believe horizontal cards are better than stacked cards because of its visual affordance and similarity to another LinkedIn feature – "Mentor Match". 

If the user selects "View More", more curated job position information is presented in a structured layout, and user can take other follow-up actions.

If the user selects "Not Interested", we gather reasons why this job opportunity is not the right fit so that we can optimize our recommendations based on these input data collected. 


Option B


Option B: The main difference here is to present the curated job match in a list view instead of the card view.

After comparison between these two options, I decided to go with Option A because option B requires one more interaction tap to see the actual job recommendations, and I assume the number of jobs in the list won't be a lot since I assume we may recommend 5–7 job opportunities to a passive candidate each time. 


Use Case 1: Visual Design


I followed the overall visual design direction the same way as existing LinkedIn mobile app by using blue as the main LinkedIn branding color, and keeping the layout consistent with existing LinkedIn design style. 


For the job match card UI, I think using tags as the visual design element is better than using icons because, A) it's easier to scale to other highlight points; B) Icons in the card take too much visual emphasis and make this overall page more busier. The visual hierarchy and focus should be focused on other date such as compensation, hiring trends and connections. 


Use Case 2 – HOrizontal contextual Job Match Experience

This is the horizontal job match feature – contextual job match recommendations based on company news, connections' update and LinkedIn Learning courses. 



To summarize, I assumed passive candidates are a quite unique group of users. They're quite picky about job opportunities, so I have to come up with a creative way to present relevant job information to them in the context of LinkedIn mobile app. 

With the design solution I created, I use Job Match card to present a few recommended jobs to them each week with curated content, such as compensation, company product focus and industry trends. If they're interested with this simplified version of the job, they open the card to know more about the position and company. I assume it's more effective for passive candidates to take certain actions by progressively revealing the relevant job information than the current workflow (job recommendation list – full job detail – apply jobs).  

The next-step action items for passive candidates are also quite different from active candidates. Based on my assumption that they're not fully ready for the interview and company research, I provide more actions just than "Apply Job". And it's super helpful to let them give us the reasons why they decide to pass a job. 

Design Solution Summary


Since this is a brand new feature to roll out to the LinkedIn community, we can try a few small-scope alpha & beta testings to gather feedback. It's important to validate my previous research findings and design assumptions based on both quantitive feature usage tracking and qualitative feedback data from usability testings.

Also, it's quite important to work closely with engineerings to understand the technology feasibility, and with PM or Data Analyst to discuss the implications with features from "LinkedIn Premium Account". 

A few of the success metrics can include: 

  • How many average job match cards per user does each user swipe to view? 
  • How many jobs per user got saved with our newly-launched Job Match experience? 
  • What's the Click-Through-Rate for the steps in the overall workflow from the initial notification to "Save Job" and other actions? 
  • What's the conversion rate for the contextual job match recommendation feature in the News Feeds, Connection Updates and LinkedIn Learning? 
  • What are the most popular reasons that users don't see this job a right fit? 
  • What are the top 10 successfully-matched job positions and companies?  

A few open questions in my design solutions: 

  • I only interviewed 5 friends and did some online research to come to my assumptions for passive candidates, it's better to validate with a larger audience. 
  • Can we have an alternative workflow to ask passive candidates their job preference at first, then present them job match positions? 
  • In the design, I use iPhone X layout. iPhone X user penetration is still low, so how to present this information in a smaller form factor? How about Android devices?  
  • What if passive candidates don't visit the Jobs page or use Notifications tab? So I thought about use case 2, but is it possible to be more aggressive to show Job Match card directly in the Home News feed?  
  • Can this experience scale to active candidates or all general job seekers? If so, there should be a "Close" button to close/reopen the job match recommendation sections in the Jobs page. 


Based on both quantitive and qualitative data, we should keep iterating and refining our product decisions. The more and earlier we try, the greater possibility we'll meet our success metrics and deliver a enjoyable user experience. 

Success Metrics & Testing Considerations