Tech 100: ‘We aspire to have a service that meets the demands of the digital world we’re in’

Written by Douglas Shirlaw on 8 February 2017 in Comment

Douglas Shirlaw, chief digital officer at COSLA, on their next refresh of recruitment portal myjobscotland

Douglas Shirlaw, chief digital officer at COSLA - Image credit: COSLA

2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the launch of Apple’s iPhone and the start of the smartphone revolution.

No matter if you are an Android fan, an Apple fan or a luddite, there can be no doubt that how we interact with websites is very different to how we did in 2007 – and that is directly related to the phone we have in our pocket.

Our mobile screens have taken over our lives, with some recent research suggesting we spend over eight hours a day interacting with them, yet it seems some of us spend a similar amount of time complaining about the battery storage on those devices.


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The prevalence of digital media, real-life distractions and our busy lives all contribute to the eradication of what used to be a normal linear journey on desktop computers into something that now resembles a series of micro-moments.

According to Brian Solis, a digital analyst and futurist at Altimeter, our brains have become reprogrammed and our behaviours and expectations have all transformed the way in which we engage with the digital world in which we now live.

As a result, customer experience has subsequently evolved, meaning brands are now directly associated with their equivalent online experience, and that is no different for us at myjobscotland.

With a refresh recycle every couple of years to remain relevant and up to date, spring 2017 will see our fifth design refresh, which will be our most radical yet – and that’s despite winning the best job board in the UK in the 2016 Recruiter Awards.

Since our inception in 2008, we have worked with an increasingly diverse range of organisations within the public sector, all of which benefit from our continually developing suite of online recruitment tools.

This growing client base means our aspiration needs to be aligned to the common digital experiences of the crowd so that we adapt accordingly to their expectations.

Whilst we listen, respond to and learn from every complaint and suggestion we receive, it’s important to understand each client’s intent during that process, so thinking about how we run our “business” needs to be seen in the context of customers’ lives.

This can prove to be a challenge in organisations where the entire experience is controlled internally: it’s more of an issue for us given that we are expected to provide a frictionless experience that is imperceptible to the user but relies heavily on our front end developers and software suppliers working together.

We can only provide the direction based on the feedback that we receive.

Now that this relationship has been established with our technology partners, they recognise there is an “engagement gap” between how our employees experience their back-end tools in relation to how our candidates do.

This “engagement gap” needs to be a focus for myjobscotland to reach the next level of success.

With our own 10th anniversary coming up, we aspire to have a service that meets the demands of the digital world we’re in.

We don’t have traditional performance metrics, so our success is focused on our candidates. 

Last year we had over 525,000 applications and registrations for over 31,500 jobs, so getting the experience right every time for our 490,000 user base means we try to improve incrementally.

Otherwise there’d be the danger of digital darwinism determining our fate – but that's another article entirely.

Douglas Shirlaw is chief digital officer for COSLA and is responsible for the implementation, developing and marketing of shared recruitment portal, myjobscotland.gov.uk

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