Jason, Kevin and I are very psyched, and relieved, to have finished our “Unicorn Designer” search (welcome aboard, Max as employee #4!).

This Unicorn search didn’t start off easy: our first real screened candidate walked out out of our offices in the middle of our Topgrading interview — I had never seen that before.

And we also got beaten up (rightfully so) by some designers (click the job ad screen shot below to see the comments) for trying to find a “Unicorn” Designer, which we define as someone who can do:

  • UX
  • Visual design and
  • Some front-end development (HTML, CSS, Javascript and perhaps even some dev languages)

Some designers pointed out that if you ask for so many skills you will get a designer who’s not that great at any one of those disciplines.

UI/UX Designers are hard enough to find even without the FE Dev skills some folks point out.

However, Ongig decided to go for it in finding the Unicorn because they can be a game-changer for small startups because such a designer can design and code, enabling a startup to iterate much faster.

How We Found Our Unicorn

1) We Created a Free Job on Ongig — To find our Unicorn, we started off by eating our own dog food and creating the job ad (below) through Ongig (where we used video and pictures, social sharing and chat).

We made our headline/job title a little different. Instead of putting just “UX Designer” as the job title,  we named the job “UX Unicorn Designer (Employee #4)”. We did this because the “Unicorn” label is a bit provocative and the “4th employee” was one of our advantages over larger employers looking for UX Designers.

2) We Posted a Link to the Ad on Craigslist & Behance.net — We wanted some extra inbound traffic so we splurged for an ad on Craigslist SF Bay Area ($75) and Behance.net ($199).

3) We Shared the Job on our Social Networks — Every Ongig job has a social share button and we shared the job on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

4) We Checked out the Stats on Ongig’s FREE Dashboard — Ongig now allows anyone who creates a job (which is FREE) to also see the basic stats about the job’s traffic, applications and social shares.

5) Traffic — First, we checked out the overall traffic (which ended up being 734 unique page views) and where it was coming from.

Not surprisingly, Craigslist and Behance generated the majority of the traffic, followed by Direct (Ongig.com) and then Google.

We were a bit surprised about the social networks. While people shared them 35 times, each share only generated 1.1 visit over to the job ad.

It was cool to see that job candidates spent 15 hours and 19 minutes with the Ongig job ad video and the rest of the page.

As Ongig co-founder Jason Webster (a 17 year recruiter) points out, that’s the same amount of time as a recruiter spending 30 30-minute recruiting calls with candidates.

Not bad!

6) Applications — Next we started to see some applications roll in.

We had 50+ total applications but for this analysis we are counting only 14 of them as “real” applications — this is because 40+ applications were people from Craigslist and Behance who just shot us an email (often with no cover letter) (we had specifically asked candidates to click through to the Ongig job ad where they could see video and pictures of the Ongig team and office, comment directly with us on the page and then apply if they want to).

Note to candidates: It’s lame when you do that. 

The breakdown of “real” applications was:

  • Craigslist: 7
  • Behance: 3
  • Direct: 3
  • Google: 1

I’m a little surprised that not a single application came from any of the major social networks since Ongig co-founder Jason and I both shared it with our personal LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter connections, and we got 40 visitors from there.

Oh well, “social recruiting” isn’t the holy grail some think it is.

And the Unicorn Came to us from…

So, where did our winning candidate Max Brody come from?

Drumroll please….

…it was Craigslist — Max saw part 1 of our ad on Craigslist and then clicked through to part 2 of the ad (Ongig) per our request.

So, here is what  the final funnel looked like for the job ad:

  • 734 views of the job
  • 14 applications (1.9% of views or 1 in 50)
  • 1 hire (7.1% of applications)

And the Craigslist funnel was:

  • 7 Applications: (3.2%)
  • 1 Hire: (14.3%

The Behance funnel was:

  • 3 applications (1.6%)
  • 0 hires

The Craigslist ($75) funnel was clearly more efficient than Behance ($199) across the board.

This is a bit funny because we beat up on Craigslist for having a crappy looking job ad — which they do — and Behance is a place where designers specifically hang out.

However, there is no arguing that Craigslist is a cheap/effective sourcing tool for the top of the funnel and awesome people like Max still use Craigslist.

One important piece to remember about our whole process is that we further qualified the Craigslist/Behance traffic through Ongig’s own job ad which was very targeted (mentioning that this would be employee #4 (that’s not for everyone), asking for an ungodly amount of design skills and showing video and pics of the Ongig team and culture (I’m sure some people were turned off by the transparency).

And if you want to create an awesome job ad, please give Ongig a spin (all the screen shots above are part of the FREE Ongig product). We’d love you to try it.

Note: Special thanks to Nadya@Google, Gabe@Facebook, Nefaur@Square, Tai@Inflection, Todd@Causes, Puja@Monitise, Keather@A&S, Josh@Aclima, Peter@MM, Jen@rRobi, Saba@Ancestry, Noah@EchoUser, Kevin@Wells, Ja Gold, LouietheLowe and Matt Jalbert for being Obi-Wan Kanobes to me on this Unicorn Designer search.

by in Job Ads

4 Responses to “How Ongig Found Its “Unicorn” Designer for Free…Well Almost!”

  1. Dragomir T

    It’s great that you are sharing your experience with your own product, more start-ups should do the same!

    And number of points I consider important to add:

    a) this article gives the impression of a recapitulation as if the task of recruiting is already done. The title says it: “Ongig Found Its “Unicorn” Designer…” The recruiting job could be considered done only after we see that person stay with the company and operate constructively in its environment. That is, at least six months or a year after hiring. Welcoming somebody on board is just the beginning, not the end, so I personally would’ve named the article “Ongig took on a promising “Unicorn” Designer…” or something like that;

    b) as others have pointed out and as you admit it, you are putting too much in this single role. I’d say you are asking for a nearly impossible mix of skills. And you say this is because being a start-up you need to keep tight on budget. A lot bothers me here.

    First, the feeling of a logical fallacy in the air. “I need an artist, an engineer and a psychologist (+ project manager, maybe, as well?) all in one. They it’s nearly impossible to get that combination. I cannot afford to hire different people for each of those roles. Thus I will be looking for that combination.” It turns out that just because we cannot afford to have the possible, we should pursue the impossible.

    Second, even if it were possible to find that Swiss army knife person (you claim you have found him!), what makes you so sure it really comes cheaper? Have you taken into account the cost of risk management? What if that person, for some reason, becomes unable or unwilling for some to carry out his duties? Are you going to look for the next one in a million wizard man or would you be going to hire people for each different role and for the first time develop the mechanisms to coordinate them? Also, it is my conviction (and professional experience), that cost reduction comes, above all, from efficient, streamlined processes (no matter how many diverse roles therein) and never from all in one employees.

    Third, you never admit, that no matter how talented person you stumble upon, it would always be some compromise in skills between those three roles. What is most important of the three for you?

    c) “I’m a little surprised that not a single application came from any of the major social networks since…” – I am pondering over a hypothesis of my own about the driving factor behind conversion rates. I think it that it is more important with what intention people hang at the place we are targeting, rather than what kind of people hang at that place.

    Behance – artists hang out there with the intention to publish their portfolios and have somebody come up to them rather vice versa.

    Social networks – people hang out there for a myriad of different reasons – build a network, track updates and news, investigate a specific professional, show off their experience (so as to the ones being sought, again, instead of vice versa) and job hunting is only a small fraction of the intentions there.

    Craigslist – well, people certainly hang out in the jobs section with the straightforward intention to get a job.

    These are all speculations of course, I am more than curious to see what you think about it.

    We should not also miss that you have three direct and one Google applications – it is highly probable that somebody saw the ad somewhere (e.g. LinkedIn), opened the site, bookmarked it and in a few days decided to apply by directly opening the bookmarked link or by searching in Google.

  2. Rob Kelly

    Thanks, Dragomir. I appreciate the thoughtful approach.

    And you’re right that it’s possible that hiring a Unicorn Designer like Max could cost us more and be a compromise in some skill areas. Perhaps we’ll do a follow-up one day to some of our assumptions.

    Thanks for calling us out on that and sharing your other ideas. +r

  3. MissDisplaced

    I think Craigslist works sometimes because it is so hyper local. I’m glad you found your UX Unicorn.
    I’m a bit of a “unicorn” myself as I do communications, writing, research, social media, graphic design, web design (not coding), photography and video editing. And yet many employers want still MORE.

    I was recently on an interview and they wanted even more web programming, which I don’t really do. At some point I work with the developer as my coding skills reach their limit. Hey, I can’t code all day AND research and write content, AND layout the 2 brochures and 2 catalogs you have. It’s good to be a unicorn candidate, but where do you draw the line?

    • Rob Kelly

      Thanks, MissDisplaced. It’s great to hear of another breed of Unicorn — that’s an impressive list of skills you’ve got. Many a company would love to have all of those skills in one person!


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