Trapeze — Shifting the focus on a broken recruitment industry

The growth of enterprise HR SaaS

In 2016, Josh Bersin of Deloitte estimated that the HR software market was worth in excess of $14 billion dollars, of which application tracking and talent management platforms made up a significant portion.

Understanding the marketplace

Looking at providers including: Recruitee, Jobvite, Homerun, Greenhouse, Workable, and Breezy, we found a crowded market place in which differentiators rarely ventured beyond pricing models in order to compete.

From an applicant point of view, the experience was equally generic and unfulfilling. From 12 applications, only two companies provided any form of response, with adventure camera manufacturer, GoPro, highlighted for their swift rejection email. More Samurai sword than dull axe but appreciated none-the-less.

It seems that in the race for market share, software providers are embroiled in a ‘red ocean’ mentality where they are focusing too heavily on each other and not enough on creating differentiators that work for each party in their multi-sided market.

For companies, even those using paid-for services were still struggling to create a cohesive experience for applicants, one which can make or break a company’s employer brand reputation in one fell swoop.

The many applicant tracking system (ATS) contenders. Who will be the undisputed champion?

The many applicant tracking system (ATS) contenders. Who will be the undisputed champion?

Validating assumptions

We designed an in-depth survey asking respondents to detail their experiences of searching, preparing an application, and applying for new roles.

Great insights that only primary research can give

Key findings

  • Their greatest challenge was translating role expectations and requirements which are often generic and bloated, into a concise and focused application free of ambiguity
  • Concerns around confidentiality when applying weren’t being adequately addressed by hiring companies or software providers
  • Time poor candidates were frustrated by the level of customisation required when applying to each new role as well as the number of stages required in the end-to-end hiring process
  • Most respondents who had applied for a new role within the past 12 months required a CV/resume when applying
  • Communication was cited as the greatest challenge when applying for a new role. This was particularly apparent for roles involving recruiting companies whose consultants didn’t understand the technicalities of the role or how the applicant would fit into the hiring company
  • Respondents cited skills and work history as the most important factors when finding a new role

Missing opportunities

We believe there is a holistic benefit to providing a service that helps users to track their skills and experience in the long term, not only when they are preparing for a new challenge.

Early ideas focused on creating a Dropbox-style repository where users could store and augment content which would then be ready for populating into the ATS platforms at will, however a data-centric platform provided little appetite during further research.

This second shift brought us closer towards the idea of what would eventually become Trapeze.

Early wireframe concepts

The skill tracking app for everyone

It helps personal users track their skills and experience so they can respond to new opportunities with greater speed and confidence; while Trapeze Business helps high-flying companies improve diversity, retain great people and reduce recruitment overheads.

Value proposition — Personal users

  • Access and manage supporting files from any device
  • Track and manage skills to spot gaps and build on strengths

Value proposition — Business users

  • Improve diversity and inclusion as standard
  • Make better data-led decisions by tracking company and industry-wide KPIs
Setting the proposition and tone of voice

Building the UI

The final UI ready for usability testing via Skype and Invision

Creating value


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Jamie Hylands is a Designer and owner of Manaseven, a UX strategy and design company based in Scotland.

Jamie Hylands Portfolio

The online home of Jamie Hylands - Product Designer, Tech Geek, Human.

Jamie Hylands

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Designer | Recovering Muso

Jamie Hylands Portfolio

The online home of Jamie Hylands - Product Designer, Tech Geek, Human.