How can we do better?

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by Rob on September 5, 2010

Here is a collection of some of the ideas and feedback that we received following last week’s request for feedback.

We want to use this post to summarise what we heard, to provide an Esc response to the ideas, and to continue the conversation on how we can keep improving the site and the concept.

We’re particularly interested in hearing what you think about suggestion no#5. Please use the comments section to let us know what you think about any of these points.

I would also like to thank you all for taking the time to send us some really constructive comments.

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1. Option of a daily email digest with any new opportunities that day

Great idea for those people who really want to jump on opportunities as soon as they are featured on the site. Obviously this wouldn’t work for everybody as it would soon clutter up an inbox. However, this is definitely something we can look at incorporating. The other thing worth mentioning here is that we are looking at ways of developing your personal settings via ‘Account’. This is an option that we could offer there.

2. Deadlines on opportunities

Deadlines aren’t currently clear enough (they’re at the bottom of listings and don’t appear on the main Opportunities page). We’ll change this asap to make it more clear when listings will be coming off the site. Nice one.

3. Re-posting opportunities

Unlike some job boards we don’t list opportunities that aren’t available. We do however repost interesting listings from other sites and companies to share them with Escape the City members – directing our users back to the source page. However it is obviously important for us to list 3rd party opportunities accurately and we are working hard to ensure that they come off the site at the appropriate date, etc.

There’s nothing more annoying than finding that an opportunity is no longer available. We had a short period a while ago where opportunities weren’t coming off the site at their deadline date. This bug is now fixed.

4. Keep filtering opportunities that appear on the site

Deciding what opportunities make it onto the site is always a challenge. One person’s idea of a dream job is the next person’s nightmare. We try to keep the definition of an ‘escape the city’ opportunity relatively broad (but without selling out and just listing any old job).

We’re well aware that the reason so many of you chose to use our site is that we work hard to list different, unconventional and exciting opportunities. We’ll continue to do this.

In order to clarify what we’re looking at posting (and what we’re not) we created ‘The Esc Test‘.

5. Ask Esc members for more information about themselves

This is potentially a really interesting feature. We haven’t done it so far in order to get a functioning site online, launch the concept etc. It’s certainly on the radar though and it is pretty clear how more intelligence on people who use the site will allow us to match-make them with the right opportunities with a much greater degree of accuracy (helping both the individuals and the employers). The cons to this argument are over-engineering a solution, the info is only useful if it is up-to-date, and people are sometimes reticent to provide more info.

That said, if it’s optional and there’s a clear benefit we can see why it would be a good idea! Watch this space.

Actually, we’re really interested to hear what other people think about this:

  • Would you be happy to have the option of providing Esc with some information about you, your experience, and your aspirations if it meant that you would be proactively matched with organisations who can offer what you’re looking for? Other benefits could include first dibs on opportunities and being approached by organisations that you might not have heard of before, but who you’re a real match for.
  • Taking this one step further, would you consider (perhaps anonymously if you’re still in your job) having a profile of yourself up on the site where prospective Esc employers could read about you and potentially approach you if they were interested in hiring you?

6. Request application responses from the companies

There’s nothing more frustrating than putting the time together to apply for a position and not hearing anything back from the company. While we can’t control any given company’s recruitment practices, we can request that they respond to all Esc applications – as a matter of courtesy, etc – and we’ll seek to structure the application processes to ensure that you’ll always hear back. Watch this space.

7. Requirement to enter a password

We understand that it’s frustrating to have to enter a password if you want to view our Opportunities. You can’t always remember it or you can’t be bothered to type it in. The ‘remember me’ button was introduced to keep you logged in – but we know that this doesn’t always work on computers that wipe things like that.

Esc is conceived of as a community and a movement of like-minded people. This means that we define ourselves by the fact that some people ‘get’ the idea and want to be involved – and some people don’t. Unfortunately this approach comes with technical considerations (such as having a log-in barrier). We’ll have a good think about how we can arrange things to make it easier to quickly click in from work to check out an opportunity in the Monday email. However we do want to continue to ask people to join us – because this is at the heart of building something bigger than just a passive website.

Vive la revolution, etc.

Hopefully if you’re serious enough about doing something different then you’ll be happy to join. And – in the nicest possible way – if you’re just here for a casual look then you’re not going to make the biggest difference to other Esc members or to the success of the concept. :-)

8. More short-term, part-time, work-shadowing, internship opportunities?

Our challenge is that including too many internship / graduate positions waters down the opportunities for those Esc members who are more advanced in their careers. Unfortunately a lot of the opportunities to ‘test the waters’ in another industry or company are at the more junior end of the scale. What we could do is build up a separate section for the more junior, more informal opportunities. Watch this space!

9. More information on exactly what people’s jobs involve day-to-day

Absolutely. One of the toughest things about leaving one job or industry for another is knowing what the next one is really going to be like. We really want Esc to help you research and understand different walks of life. The second question we ask our Heroes is “What does this involve on a day-to-day basis?” If you search our new Heroes section based on the industries and areas that people are working in you’ll begin to get a flavour of what different jobs involve. And, if the answer isn’t satisfying, you always have the option of asking them a question at the bottom!

10. What if you take a test, or pick certain tags and that automatically creates a list of ideas/job opportunities?

This is a good idea and something we have been thinking about for a while. We have been considering publishing a list of ‘Esc-approved’ organisations for you to browse and potentially to find employers you would never have considered but would actually love working for. As we’ve said before - How to get an interview when your dream company isn’t hiring – an organisation not having a position available is not a reason for not approaching them.

11. Educating employers that skills are transferable….

This is one of our biggest challenges (and, hence, one of our biggest focus areas). Unfortunately a lot of employers and organisations still employ a more traditional attitude to skill-sets.

However, companies listing directly on Escape the City already understand that our community is a community of career switchers – so by definition they are more inclined to consider people from diverse backgrounds as long as they are good people. Educating employers and proving that it works is the key, as you say. We’re working on it. If any site is going to list opportunities from organisations with a more progressive attitude towards hiring one would hope that it would be ours!

12. Internships not relevant for a lot of people working in ‘the city’

See answer to No. #8 above.

13. I like the way you and Dom update us in the Monday emails with what you’ve been doing the last week. It’s encouraging.

Cool – thanks! We’re using this blog to track our progress, learnings, and basically the personal story behind Escape the City. Keep reading / subscribe via RSS if you want to keep hearing about our various adventures.

14. I don’t like the text size in your emails. The text needs to be 1-2 points bigger in my opinion.

Working on this one. It’s a question of fitting it all in. Will have a look at the font size options. Might be transferring to a shiny new newsletter format soon – so we’ll bear this in mind. Thanks.

15. Send a copy of the job advert as well as our application as I imagine a lot of people like me apply near the deadline.

Will try and figure out an easy way to do this. Opportunities come off the site at their deadlines – so you might not have access to the description in preparation for your interview. Our advice in the short term is to copy and paste the job description into a word document! However we could look at building in a function whereby you can email yourself the description. Good idea.

16. Coaching is really useful. Can you suggest some coaches?

We’re actually currently working on an Escape the City specific coaching plan with a couple of really great coaches. Watch this space. Launching this autumn.

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Thanks again for all of these suggestions. What else could we build, improve, change, or introduce to make Esc a better resource for all you aspiring Escapees?!

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