DFuse: students, meet your future

Students and recent grads don’t shine on LinkedIn, so the right professional platform was needed to promote and connect them with solid entry-level hires. The idea was sound, and the UX had to be on point. That’s where Caravan came in.

The step from university life to the working world is a big one, and for some reason, there’s a ‘product gap’ that doesn’t make it any better. All of the big job search sites — LinkedIn, Monster, Indeed — aren’t designed for applicants just entering the job market.

At the same time, employers don’t have an optimized way to connect with students and recent grads. It’s as if the two sides should be having a conversation, but they find themselves unable to in a crowded and loud room.

Charles Parent and Alexandre Favre came to know this firsthand. In the midst of graduating from the International Business program at HEC, they were looking for the right job or internship. “We were finding it very hard to simply make first contact with companies,” said Parent.

Parent and Favre decided to take matters into their own hands. They’ve launched DFuse, the platform optimized for entry-level hiring. It gives students a great place to spread their professional wings, with a simple CV/profile page that highlights ambitions, values, skills and character. It lends an aspect of social media to the exchange, and has indexed so many terms that the search capabilities for employers is unparalleled.

The end result is the right first step towards professional fulfillment for students (it’s so easy to set up a profile, there’s no reason not to), and the right platform to find motivated, nascent talent for employers. DFuse is the career matchmaker for the next generation.

Caravan came onboard to help with the design, and went beyond

Our project manager Alexis, also a graduate from HEC, worked on a case study with the DFuse team. When the group discovered UX was a chief concern of their user base, they felt it necessary to turn to a professional agency for guidance.

Caravan had a lot of experience with UX design for a number of purposes that aligned with the objectives of DFuse. Our clean design for the City of Montreal, which is a site that also processes many dynamic fields, as well as our work with SourceKnowledge, an ad response tracking software for businesses, gave our UX team some of the chops required.

At first Caravan was asked to help with some basic visuals and schematics for the UX. But as the project developed, we realized that it was only natural for us to go a bit further, and the effort needed to transform some initial ideas into a full UX concept was a lot less for us than it would be with their in-house team. “Caravan really went beyond what we expected,” said Parent. “Along some best practices, they took a look at what was out there, what was cool and worked, and then designed around it.”

The all-important personal profiles

The basis of the site, in its most simple form, is as a dynamic CV for entry-level job seekers. The challenge was how to design something that’s friendly and simple enough to attract a large user base, and then grow from there in terms of what can be displayed.

Like with most social media profiles, an emphasis on clean design and standardization guided the UX. This canvas helps to clarify the information given and leaves it to students and recent grads to figure out how to amplify their profile. “Most recruiters are old school (familiar with the one-page CV), so we wanted the profiles to be clear and concise with as little clutter as possible,” said Dan, one of Caravan’s designers.

Everything searchable

The platform’s further merit comes from the fact that candidates will be recommended to companies according to positive field matches. To enable this automated liaison, profiles needed to be searchable by field and specific term. This is where the site really differs from LinkedIn (who might want to take note): each profile becomes a searchable database for candidates, meaning that it will ‘job hunt’ automatically for job-seekers, while ‘head hunt’ automatically for employers. This dynamic aspect influenced the design in that it must be communicated through the layout how each profile is indexed. It works a bit like ‘tags’ in photos or blog entries do.

Mobile and desktop compatibility

A platform like DFuse requires access on the fly and from home. The architecture of the UX was designed in a way that would make sense on a number of screens, big and small. Streamlining compatibility across platforms is an important consideration in any digital project. At the same time, programming frameworks and design best practices are reflecting and addressing these requirements. When creating the visual ecosystem of a new platform — and on an efficient budget and timeline — it’s best to satisfy clients with something that translates organically across platforms.

Going for the win with students, for employers

What encouraged us along the process of working with DFuse was the fact that we were helping to build a much-needed platform. We had all encountered the obstacles of finding our first jobs out of university, and we all butted up against the same frustration as Parent and Favre: that platforms like LinkedIn didn’t work in our favour.

In terms of designs, striking a chord that would be well-received by both students and HR departments at company’s (old school or otherwise) meant being completely logical, clear and friendly. We congratulate DFuse on their vision that will undoubtedly help students and employers in those crucial entry-level hires.

“If you’re a student or recent grad and serious about yourself, you have to try DFuse,” said Nicolas, another Caravan designer. “You have nothing to lose.”

For more information on Caravan products, check out some of our other blog posts.

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