I expect that many of us recognise the triangle above from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. this theory looks at how all of us have a basic set of motivators that drive our behaviour on a day to day basis. Split into basic (physical & safety), psychological (belonging and esteem) and self-fulfilment (or actualisation), this is still a popular basis for many sociological models almost 80 years after it was first published.

So think about this for a minute while I talk about something else that’s been on my mind. I’ve been thinking a lot about personalisation lately. It’s a word that anyone working in customer experience will have been hearing for a good while now and its also one that us folks in HR have been rolling around too.

The effect of personalising messages to consumers has been talked about a lot. So much so that Global research firm Gartner is able to estimate that getting this right can lead to a 16% positive impact on commercial outcomes. Within Talent Acquisition there are many reports and data points suggesting that similar benefits can be achieved.

The main aim of personalisation is to deliver an experience that matches user needs or interests, with no effort required on the part of the individual to disclose ‘in the moment’ what they are That’s interesting for me because it means that to stand any chance of getting it right you need to know who you’re aiming at and what they want.

As Maslow stated, there are bunch of basic psychological drivers that sit underneath our reaction to personalised approaches. In his model the desire for belonging and esteem would be the main one. A couple more that I would say are present would also be the desire to acquire something of value (purpose and meaning fits here) and the desire to feel in control and prepared for the unexpected.

The effect of personalising an experience for someone then is to make them feel valued. And, conversely, an experience designed to meet the needs of one individual is likely to be off putting to someone that doesn’t fall into that group. This then is important in several ways when we think about experience design within a recruitment context.

In your average recruitment process, there tends to be a lot going on. Managers are looking for the right person. Recruiters are trying to sort through all the people in the process and pull forward any that match the brief. Candidates are applying for a job that they hope to get, whilst at the same time making decisions on their prospective employer based on each interaction they have.

So, if you are personalising your recruitment experience, who exactly are you personalising it for? And how can you be certain, apart from at a very top level, that you understand their needs in all of this?

One of the best ways to manage overlapping needs in this kind of work is to focus on outcomes, not features. the NN Group, leaders in research-based user experience, were talking about this as far back as 2016 “One of the biggest traps in product planning is focusing on outputs over outcomes — that is, discussing what to build before clearly defining its purpose”.

If one of the outcomes needed to increase the effectiveness of a recruitment process is to create a sense of belonging and esteem, whilst also aligning purpose and meaning in a way that lets the people interacting with and moving through them form connections, applying this type of outcome lens to the stages you use in recruitment is important.

In many organisations it is common for people to get some significant distance through a process without anyone ever actually meeting or interacting with each other. How is this approach supportive of people connecting and forming bonds? How does it give a valuable experience to those engaged in it and help them to feel in control of the outcomes?

Generally, the further forward in your recruitment process that you can achieve direct contact between people the greater the satisfaction level the people involved have. This is time intensive and not always possible but there are multiple ways that the experience of connection can be given with the actual event following later.