Responsible Data Use Playbook for Job Seeker Tools

Introduction

Public and private agencies of all kinds have long attempted to develop useful job seeker tools. The massive unemployment crisis caused by COVID-19 highlights the urgent need for a more synchronized response from the philanthropic, private, and public sectors to enhance job seekers’ experiences and ultimately bridge the gap between available talent and workforce demand. Now more than ever, job seekers need a collaborative approach grounded in the lived experiences of the people struggling in the labor market today. We need to put their needs front and center and provide them more relevant, actionable information and support.

Newly laid-off workers do not have the technologies and tools they need to analyze their talents, highlight their expertise, and assess their skill gaps. They need information about how to choose the right career pathways for their goals and how to develop the skills needed to begin or continue their progress along those pathways. Job seekers want guidance on which pathways will be most effective, affordable, and targeted to help them grow and thrive in the labor market. They also need wraparound support services to help make sense of the sheer volume of available resources and make the best decisions possible.

The Responsible Data Use Playbook for Job Seeker Tools is intended to provide private sector actors, state and local governments, and the philanthropic community with guidelines to develop the most effective job seeker tools for newly laid-off workers. At the core of these tools is a commitment to data sharing and data governance, which are critical to providing job seekers with access to accurate information on labor markets and training opportunities. These plays serve as a framework for how to design initiatives and tools for workers, how to identify organizations critical to the implementation of this design, and how to create sustainable governance of those tools and resources. This is how we begin to build stronger engines of social and economic mobility.

In this playbook, you will find four guiding principles and seven plays—each illuminated through real-life examples. We hope that over time, the community will continue to offer suggestions for other useful examples of progress.

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Guiding Principles

This playbook was developed using four guiding principles to ground the overall vision and each of the plays.

  1. Job seeker experience and needs should be the focus, and should include support, guidance, and advising in addition to digital tools and resources.
  2. Equity, and eliminating equity gaps, should be a central goal.
  3. Cross-sector collaborations can produce the most effective results.
  4. Tools should be built with longevity and sustainability in mind.

Guiding Use Cases

The highest priority use cases for jobseeker tools at this time revolve around:

  • Mapping out all the job opportunities and credentialing programs in a region
  • Measuring the market value of the available credentialing programs and in-demand skills
  • Aligning on pathways to opportunity that fill local needs and meet the job seekers where they are
  • Recommending specific pathways to individuals given the skills and credentials they’ve got and their goals, and
  • Coordinating on wraparound supports among service providers (e.g. health, housing, childcare) to ensure the pathway is accessible and feasible for those most in need.

Examples of States at Work

As state and local governments, non-profit organizations, private vendors, and philanthropic organizations seek to provide the best information and resources for job seekers, here are a few approaches that exhibit best practices.

Arizona

[email protected] is a collaborative effort of the Arizona Department of Economic Security, Arizona Commerce Authority, Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity, and local workforce areas. It provides job seekers with a suite of tools, including a resume builder, targeted job search functions, and information about market trends. The tool highlights high-demand occupations to address the current labor market needs in the state, and the user interface is attractive and intuitive. The portal, which is itself an innovative solution for job seekers, is also supported by a statewide outreach effort, and the preliminary data suggest that outreach has been successful.

Colorado

Part of the Data for American Dream initiative, My Colorado Journey is powered by a new, multi-agency, public-private data trust that, over time, will both unite the existing fragmented ecosystem of data in Colorado and allow for the creation of new datasets that connect services, programs, and education and employment opportunities. Similarly, the My Colorado Journey platform takes a fragmented set of end-user experiences across agencies and provides a unified and personalized user interface platform, rooted in a strong partnership between multiple state government agencies, private vendors, and local philanthropy. By involving partners from a variety of sectors, Colorado ensured both that the needs of many user types are represented in the design of the initiative, and that users from each of these types are recruited to both test and utilize the tool.

New Jersey

In New Jersey, the current job seeker solution is a trio of tools. New Jersey was one of the first states to stand up a rapid response effort to help those laid off as a result of COVID-19 days within the declaration of the public health emergency. The pre-COVID-19 job seeker solution is the New Jersey Career Network, a digital coaching tool that helps people navigate their job search. Finally, there is a more targeted approach for low-income, lower skilled, and under- and unemployed individuals being developed as part of the Data for the American Dream initiative. The New Jersey Career Network and Data for the American Dream initiatives are led by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development; the COVID-19 rapid response effort was led by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority in consultation with Labor. The Governor’s Innovation Office is the digital lead on all three of these tools.This approach will help the state ensure that it meets the demands of different audiences of job seekers in the state.

Acknowledgements

BrightHive owes its gratitude to co-authors Alli Bell (Three Arrows Up Consulting), Michelle R. Weise (Imaginable Futures), and expert contributors Patrick Lane (Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, WICHE), Kelle Parsons (American Institutes for Research), and Brian Prescott, (National Center For Higher Education Management Systems, NCHEMS), for the creation of this playbook.

BrightHive would like to thank team members Maithri Vangala, Danielle Saunders, Matt Stevens, Hana Passen, Kelly Dolan, Natalie Evans Harris, and Matt Gee for their expertise and contributions to the development of this playbook.



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PLAY 1

Build and Align a Diverse Coalition

Job seekers look to numerous resources and supports as they consider their options, but sifting through the volume of available information can be overwhelming. Developing and aligning a coalition will make sure that everyone is singing from the same song sheet. The most effective way to provide positive outcomes for job seekers is to unite organizations in a coalition with common goals that include: developing and promoting job seeker tools and resources; ensuring job seekers have adequate support to help them navigate and interpret the tools; developing accountability measures and metrics; and sharing and using data.

Job seekers operate in noisy environments – with many options and opinions – and it is difficult to know which resources should be trusted and which are the most effective.

A coalition involving a wide array of agencies, organizations, and voices will help ensure the inclusion of necessary voices, relevant data, and outreach. By inviting multiple stakeholders, coalitions will be able to facilitate discussions about job seeker needs, how to promote equitable and successful outcomes, and the potential impact on society. The collaboration will be more representative of the experience of the job seeker who must successfully interact with multiple agencies, interfaces, organizations, barriers, and the situations that arise from the combined interactions. These discussions will include job seekers’ and potential intermediaries’ input and needs, to ultimately ensure stakeholder buy-in.

The key to any successful, sustainable collaboration among multiple organizations is a clearly defined and documented shared goal or priority, especially when collaborators must share sensitive data to achieve that goal or priority. Collaborators can identify the crucial data and information that job seekers need by identifying a common user of the data and resources.

Checklist

  1. Determine a common goal or extremely short list of goals to focus on, while leaving the longer list for next steps. Taking on too much at once can muddle and overextend resources.
  2. Determine which organizations have relevant data, services, and capacity to shape and contribute to the common goal, especially those who have specific resources to reach and serve communities of color, rural populations, etc.
  3. Start by establishing partnerships with the most targeted group necessary to accomplish the goals of the coalition - you can grow the coalition over time.
  4. While the coalition should start small, consult widely - include all relevant stakeholders and partners, especially voices that can speak to the experiences of vulnerable job seekers.
  5. Include job seekers, or a representative of job seekers, as a critical part of the coalition.
  6. Bring in employers as an important partner throughout the process, including working with them to reduce bias in the job posting and hiring process.
  7. Develop cross-sector relationships with a personal touch – reach out and meet with people, develop a shared understanding of the challenge and potential solutions.
  8. Evaluate current partnerships to determine whether there are existing resources to deploy in service of the goal.
  9. Identify the needs of job seekers and employers, equity gaps that need to be filled, and economic opportunities that will be addressed.
  10. Make equity an explicit part of the conversation, especially around how data and support services can be used to both identify and rectify issues of historic and structural inequity.

Key Questions

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Resources and Examples

PLAY 2

Design for the Job Seeker

Job seekers need tools that are easy to access, navigate, and understand, and that provide them with the resources, information, and connections they need to find a job, leverage their experience and skills, and access support. The most effective job seeker tools will provide individuals (or intermediaries) with the information they need on a variety of platforms.

All too often, job seeker tools are difficult to access or navigate, only address a single worker need, or do not provide adequate information for users to make well-informed decisions. In the worst cases, the information provided is biased, inaccurate, inaccessible, or incomprehensible. When designing these tools and resources, take special care to ensure that they are offered through various modalities (particularly in communities where internet access is limited) and are easy to understand. These tools must help job seekers communicate their qualifications and must inform them about other helpful support services and resources.

Checklist

  1. Determine the end user (including intermediaries).
  2. Content is critical: develop wording, information, and outputs that are relevant to those users. It may be necessary to develop multiple versions of the same tool for specific audiences.
  3. Consider engaging an external user interface designer.
  4. Establish a quality assurance process and criteria to assess the information provided to job seekers, in order to determine whether the stated goals of the tool are being accomplished.
  5. Plan for evaluation and continuous development, including incorporating stakeholder feedback.
  6. Provide versions in different languages as appropriate.
  7. Develop tools to be accessed across a variety of platforms (mobile, desktop, phone, printouts, brochures, etc.).
  8. Guide users in translating their qualifications and skills into a record of their experience for potential employers.
  9. Evaluate design principles and criteria for equity.

Key Questions

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PLAY 3

Make It Relevant

Job seekers require current information tailored to their specific needs. They need to know the precise skills to acquire to get better jobs in their local labor market. All of this depends on quality labor market information curated in a way that makes it relevant, accessible, and understandable. Job seekers need to know which opportunities are priorities and which pathways will pay off meaningfully both in the short and long term.

The demand for workers is unique to a specific geographic area. Tools need to leverage the most current labor market information to ensure that the information provided by the tool both serves the worker and helps the local economy. Stakeholders must therefore set up data sharing initiatives in a way that compiles up-to-date and accurate information about the training programs and jobs that are available, maps them to the relevant skills, and enables this data to be recompiled on a regular basis to generate data resources that reflect rapid and local changes in the economy. The utilization of cross-sector experts is critical in making sure this work is done correctly and reflects on-the-ground realities, as well as immediate needs or opportunities in a region. The need for this data already existed, but the economic impacts of COVID-19 has introduced the need for new design considerations that ensure this data is calculated often, accurate within localities, and sustainable so that this data continues to be generated without creating a heavy lift on data providers.

Checklist

  1. Determine specific regional and local needs using the most current, reliable labor market information.
  2. Include newly emerging jobs as well as jobs in both long-standing sectors (for example, not focusing tools solely on COVID-19 related jobs presently).
  3. Provide information on the specific skills needed to obtain and be successful in these jobs.
  4. Utilize emerging technologies to customize data and information for individual job seekers’ needs, goals, capacities, interests, and skills.
  5. Ensure all information provided to job seekers is accurate, timely, locally relevant, and ideally, engaging.
  6. Keep up to date on research and initiatives at the cutting edge of workforce development, focusing on trends in directions that may be enabled by current decisions.

Key Questions

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PLAY 4

Solidify Data Use, Sharing, and Governance

Job seekers need comprehensive, reliable data they can trust. Strong data-sharing agreements ensure that the information passed on to job seekers and other audiences is accurate. Moreover, these agreements can take complex data and relationships and distill them into salient, easily understandable information.

The kinds of data needed to provide accurate, timely, and comprehensive information for the most effective job seeker tools come from a variety of sources. This includes information about available jobs, current and future economic demand, wage and earnings data, the kinds of skills necessary to fill labor market demands, training providers, and information about related support services. Members of the coalition or data collaborative are responsible for making sure that these data are connected and that a governance structure protects the data while ensuring its usefulness. Ideally, the governance body includes members from a number of stakeholder groups, including job seekers and employers.

In considering the types of data to be included in the agreements, remember to include those data that will help with continuous improvement and accountability assessment of the tool and job seeker experience.

Checklist

  1. Create a governance structure that is sustainable and specific enough to satisfy members’ needs but flexible enough to both respond to new needs quickly and evolve over time, as opposed to fragile agreements that require lengthy legal review to update and become clunkier with revision.
  2. Ensure shared ownership of the data collaborative or trust.
  3. Make provisions that protect each member’s ability to control the data they contribute.
  4. Identify someone who specifically represents job seekers within the data governance process, and include this job seeker or relevant representative in the conversations and decision-making around data
  5. Create a diverse governance body that ensures that all stakeholders’ perspectives are heard.
  6. Identify data that will help job seekers directly, as well as those data that will aid in tool design and continuous improvement for inclusion in these agreements.

Key Questions

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PLAY 5

Integrate Wraparound Support Services

If you build it, they may not come. Job seekers need more than a tool that gives them options for skills training and job openings; they need career navigation, advising, and wraparound support services, including more direct connections to employers.

It is not enough to simply develop the tool and make it available. Instead, build a careful outreach plan both during development and implementation. Job seekers often have questions like: What will this skill or credential buy me in the job marketplace? What’s the deeper value of this learning to me—now and in the future? How long will this take and how much will it cost? How do others who follow this path fare, and where can I expect to land if I give this a shot? Who can help me and where can I find that help? Is this a family-sustaining job? Where can I find childcare and transportation?

Checklist

  1. Identify both digital and non-digital avenues through which job seekers may access the information in the tool and related support services.
  2. Determine effective dissemination and marketing opportunities, and consider consulting a UX designer.
  3. Develop relationships with intermediaries, if they are not part of the original coalition, and equip them with guides or other collateral that help them leverage the tools with their clients. Make sure to solicit and respond to their feedback.
  4. Listen to users (whether job seekers or intermediaries) on the most effective strategies for disseminating information, and which information is most useful.
  5. Test the tool functionality and job seeking process with a representative sample of diverse end users, including job seekers, to get a sense of the end-to-end experience using the tool.
  6. Promote equity by providing wraparound support services for vulnerable and at-risk populations, including those who do not have access to an online platform or are not able to use one.
  7. Engage employers to ensure more direct connections with job seekers and remove bias from hiring practices.
  8. Work with employers to ensure that hiring practices value skills and experience over degree attainment.

Key Questions

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PLAY 6

Be Accountable

Develop robust, reliable, and transparent methods for measuring and reporting the success of the movement and tools, the impact on job seekers, and project milestones. These outcome metrics must be identified and gathered from the beginning, as they will lay the foundation for proof points and policy changes for the future. The collaborative should set specific, measurable goals for the movement, rooted in job seekers’ successes.

In order to ensure that the goals of the collaborative job seeker tools are being met, it is important to develop and monitor key metrics of success. Are workers using the resources that have been generated? Are they finding the resources useful? Are they achieving the intended outcomes? Are there mechanisms in place to collect user feedback? Creating these evaluative feedback loops will ensure that the needs of workers are central to each conversation and improve the opportunities to both identify and fulfill their data needs. These feedback loops will also help identify areas for improvement.

Checklist

  1. Identify specific metrics that are aligned with the stated goals of the project and related movement. Be sure to include both leading and lagging metrics - leading metrics can be measured early or immediately, such as usage, which contribute to the lagging metrics like hiring increases.
  2. Develop a method for collecting data for these metrics.
  3. Early, often, and at regular intervals, collect and analyze the performance data.
  4. Make the results of the analysis transparent through public-facing dashboards and reports, when possible.
  5. Based on the information gathered, create a plan for improvements.
  6. Work with policymakers and other decision-makers to create a plan of action based on findings.
  7. Use accountability processes to ensure equity.

Key Questions

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PLAY 7

Create a Movement

Job seeker tools that are part of a larger movement are more likely to have an impact. Job seekers, employers, and other stakeholders will coalesce around a call to action, or a campaign to improve economic outcomes for a given population. To build a stronger foundation for a better functioning ecosystem, job seekers will need information, resources, and services to come together in a seamless and more easily navigable way that they can trust.

Campaigns with intentional goals, a call to action, and a specific plan for achieving the goals can drive support and stakeholder buy-in. Tools that are anchored in a larger movement will ultimately better serve the job seekers, intermediaries trying to help job seekers, and localities and states. Creating a movement brings a larger sense of purpose and meaning. A movement will also provide a broader foundation for sustainability.

Checklist

  1. Evaluate the needs of job seekers, the state (or other geographical area), and employers.
  2. Identify gaps in what is available, and to whom, and what needs resonate loudly with communities.
  3. Recruit stakeholders who have an interest in job seekers to participate in the coalition.
  4. Set attainable and measurable goals.
  5. Develop a communications and outreach plan.
  6. Incorporate various viewpoints.

Key Questions

Public Agencies

Private Sector

Philanthropy

Resources and Examples