When you think of a recruitment-focused conference or customer event, images of employees talking one-on-one with customers and listening intently to their feedback — then hunkering down in a hotel room that night until 4 a.m., busily strategizing and coding and making immediate improvements to a product based on what they’ve heard, Hackathon-style — probably don’t immediately come to mind. But that’s exactly what members of the tech and product teams at CareerBuilder do each time they attend a customer event. After all, there’s no better way to instantly make changes and add the features our customers need most than by talking directly to the people using them each day.
I recently talked to Adam Parker, manager of consumer web applications at CareerBuilder, about how CareerBuilder’s technology and product teams quickly adapt to client feedback to make changes in our products – or create new products altogether.
1. How do the tech and product teams tap into what clients are asking for?
Trying to guess what a client is asking for is easy; actually knowing what they want is much harder. We have learned from experience that to truly know what a client needs you have to interact with them. You have to work alongside them and feel their pain. We are constantly gathering feedback from clients. Our sales and account management teams are a powerful first line in discovering those pain points. We have what we call “Cagility” (a term CareerBuilder CEO Matt Ferguson coined, fusing the values of candor and agility) calls and meetings with clients where we partner with them to find unique solutions. We use the feedback we get from every part of the business to make our products better. Our product and technology is structured in such a way that everyone is empowered to advocate for the best interests of our clients.
2. How was CareerBuilder’s Talent Gather product a result of quickly changing the business to meet clients’ needs?
Talent Gather is actually a product that was born from a client’s need. The entire premise of digital candidate capture started with clients wanting to get more value out of college recruiting events. During the course of a single 24-hour Hackathon, we were able to create a working prototype of what would soon evolve into Talent Gather. Since then we have continued to pursue a quick development cycle where small improvements combined with client feedback result in real gains in product value.
3. How do you decide when to make changes to a product based on outside feedback — and when not to?
Feedback is an essential part of product development. As a product gains more and more stakeholders, it becomes challenging to know how to prioritize that feedback. When we prioritize our work, we try to consider the following: 1) What will benefit the largest number of users, 2) What makes our product more reliable or easier to use? and 3) What additional technologies or practices can we incorporate to create value in our product? Features created in a vacuum cannot develop to their full potential. Only with the feedback of our users can we be assured the work we have done is truly valid.
4. You’ve been with CareerBuilder for a long time. What’s the biggest/most drastic change you have seen in the company or in the tech team since you started?
The technology industry has transformed into such an intelligence-driven field over the last 10 years. Watching CareerBuilder incorporate those changes has been amazing. Our industry, like many, used to rely on sheer volume and power to deliver value to our users. Today we have such an intelligent team using the most cutting-edge techniques and tools to help enrich every part of our business. Being able to instantly reveal insights to the customers using our products helps make them both more confident and more efficient. We constantly develop ways of working that make us wonder how we ever did things the old way. We’re just scratching the surface of what is possible.
5. What makes you want to get up and go to work every day?
Being able to solve problems and create value is the most rewarding part of my work. The power that technology has had on simplifying some of the hardest parts of our lives is amazing, and at CareerBuilder we have so many opportunities to do the same thing. From seeing a stack of resumes turn into instant value at a career fair, to helping employers discover new markets for amazing candidates, to showing job seekers the value of their resumes — every day brings new and rewarding challenges and opportunities.