My dog applied for a job

With apologies to many hard-working responsive and ethical recruiters and companies.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I wish to apply for the role of xxxx on behalf of my dog Lexi. I attach her cv and photograph. I know that you don’t normally ask for photos and that to discriminate on looks is probably illegal, but she is very cute. I would expect you to be entirely professional about this, but if you do get to meet her I can provide treats for you to give her and she will be your friend and lick you.

You may be a little surprised that my dog is applying but I am assuming that she has as much chance as I have of getting an interview. When I applied for the role my cv matched your job description exactly and I have all the personal qualities listed. I can only imagine that your response to me must have been lost when my email server went down (although I wasn’t aware that it had). Your website describes your company values and I couldn’t imagine that you wouldn’t at least reply. In fact there have been some companies that I had an interview with who didn’t reply even after I had met them. Maybe if I’d taken my dog with me I would have been more memorable and had a response.

Given that you have been advertising the role for some time and continue to do so I can only imagine that you are finding it hard to recruit the right person, so Lexi could be a good solution.

Anyway, Lexi is very collaborative which is one of the skills that you are looking for. She is very open to anyone throwing her ball for her and will often bring it back, so she’s very easy to work with. I have found that introduced to a group of people she will often lift the mood and so will be a great asset in the office.

Her stakeholder management skills are second to none as she usually is very persuasive. She achieves this by staring at people with big eyes, a bit like the cat in Shrek. By the way if you’re more of a cat person we did have cats but sadly the last one disappeared recently otherwise I could have applied for her as well.

There is no question that Lexi is better behaved than many people. She has never thrown up due to drunkeness, is good to children, and doesn’t smash up city centres after football matches. She is clean and tidy – much more so than people, given the evidence of my local park or any beach after a sunny day. I have a good supply of poo bags for the only deposits she is likely to leave behind.

I believe that if Lexi is required to fill in a personality profile (I hope it will be ok for me to press the buttons on her behalf) she will sail through. She is assertive, ambitious, collaborative (as I’ve said), attentive, kind (she lets children stroke her), all positive attributes in a busy office.

Her cognitive abilities are also outstanding. She has great verbal reasoning skills, responding to words such as ‘sit’, ‘come’, ‘stay’ (for a while) etc as she reasons that she will earn a treat as a result, which is sometimes true. Lexi has good numerical skills. If there is one treat to her left and two treats to her right, she will turn to the right.

You don’t need to worry if the psychometric tests aren’t especially relevant to the job as that seems to be normal, although they are quite useful at reducing the annoyingly large number of applicants by applying an arbitrary pass mark that has been determined by highly qualified experts who have never done the job being applied for. You may find it simpler to spin a coin. If you do save a lot of money by taking this approach please send me a cut.

I hope it will be possible to make some reasonable accommodations to the office space for Lexi. A small grass mat in the toilets (or suitable location) would be required, and an open space where ball throwing is permitted would be desirable. The canteen may need to review the menu. I would assume that sleeping on the job is not an issue as you offer flexible working arrangements.

I note that your office is located on a flood plain. Should it be required Lexi is a good swimmer, and could potentially perform a first aid role by towing non-swimmers to safety. Provision would have to be made for a supply of small sticks to encourage her to go in the right direction. I attach a further photo by way of illustration.

Lexi swimming (sort of)

With regard to salary Lexi’s demands are quite modest, and she would be ok with the same shamefully low amount that you would have paid me had I not missed your reply.

If you do decide to invite Lexi for an interview the best question to ask her is ‘How are you feeling?’ because then she can say ‘Ruff’. It may be best for the rest of the interview to be skills based, as she can sometimes lose interest in having a conversation. Mind you, if she gets too excited she can shout quite a lot, which could be useful if burglars are in the vicinity.

The one possible drawback is that Lexi has little concept of your brand or what you company does. To be frank the same applies to me, despite the fact that I said in my application that yours was the only company I’d ever wanted to work for (I’m not sure if you got that far in the letter). I’d copied that bit from a website to which I’d paid several hundred pounds that guaranteed to get me any job I wanted. That clearly didn’t work and I will have to consult my learned friends about a remedy. Nevertheless I hope that Lexi’s honesty will count in her favour if you read as far as this.

Please do not attempt to reply to this application by email as it appears to be unreliable. Even the postal service isn’t what it used to be. I suggest that you leave the interview invitation with your receptionist (not sooner than one week please), and the next time I’m going past when taking Lexi for a walk I’ll drop in and pick it up. Please also ensure that there is a bowl of water and an appropriate treat. Mine’s a pint.

Yours

Nick Gassman (on behalf of Lexi)

UX, Design and Research are critical core functions for fintech

Fintech is buzzing

Financial services in general have been undergoing significant change for some time driven by digital technologies. The ongoing closure of high street bank branches has been a matter of much public comment. The application of new technologies to financial services has generated the term ‘fintech’, and there’s a lot going on. It’s fascinating There are some companies offering the same services as have existed for a long time – such as insurance or lending – and using tech to drive down the costs for the end customer. There are others using tech to offer something a bit different.

Whatever the business though, it’s not enough to have a good idea or even a good execution Whereas in previous times transactions were always mediated by people – over the counter or the phone – who could provide a buffer to clunky systems and terminology, with digital the user interface has to be good enough, and can be a competitive advantage in its own right. If customers can’t navigate your system, you’re out of business.

Digital coin exchanges

Here’s an example from digital coin exchanges.

This is an extract of Bitrex homepage. Erm…. maybe they are just targeting expert traders who know them and know what they do. They aren’t going to suck in many mainstream investors. ‘Explore markets’??? What markets? Sign up for what?

Bittrex section of homepage

Their homepage blurb is this.

Lloyds mortgage page

There’s an obvious difference in apparent complexity between these designs. The aim should be to make it easy for any individual to find their path. The first two designs would seem to achieve that aim. With Lloyds, should I go to ‘Find out more’ or one of the other choices? Is this the right place to tell prospective customers that their homes may be repossessed?What’s all that legal-looking text at the top about? And what’s a ‘Club Lloyds current account customer’ that gets a discount? How can I be one? There’s no information here.

Lloyds are talking to Club Lloyds customers at this point, but what about everyone else? At British Airways there are benefits for members of The Executive Club – the airline’s frequent flyer scheme (despite its name anyone can join for free and earn miles). Around the site there would be, for example, a description of how to choose a seat, with a rider of ‘and Executive Club members can do x’. It was aimed at Executive Club members who (mostly) knew that they were a member. However, many non-members didn’t know if they were members or not – or how to become one. It’s important when presenting messages to think not only of the people who it’s for, but also the people who it’s not for, and to provide supporting information where needed. In Lloyds case it would help if there was some in-context information available (such as a mouseover) that could inform the curious customer as to what a ‘Club Lloyds current account customer’ is.

Borderless banking

There are a growing number of digital nomads working remotely and moving around the globe, and so more borderless bank accounts are appearing, along with other methods of cheaply moving money across borders.

ipagoo┬áhave a multi country account, and TransferWise has recently added a ‘borderless account’ to their list of services.

The ipagoo website needs work. The contrast of the text to background is poor making it hard to read and key information doesn’t stand out. Also, one of the obvious questions that digital nomads will ask is ‘what countries does this account work in?’. Where can I get paid? It’s not obvious how to get that information on the ipagoo site. Here’s part of their homepage.

ipagoo home

There are no obvious navigation options to tell me which countries I can get paid in. I spent some time looking around but ultimately I had to contact the company to find out. You have to ‘apply now’, which is counter-intuitive. I don’t want to apply yet, I want more information.

Here’s what you get on the apply now page.

ipagoo apply now

Even more oddly, you now have to click the link to find out if you are eligible for an account. This is structured the way the company thinks about it – not the way that customers think. From ipagoo’s point of view, if you aren’t in one of the listed countries, you’re not eligible. But it doesn’t help customers to structure the information that way.

Here’s what you get if you click the link.

ipgoo eligibility page

At last, here’s the list, but I would never have found it and I would never have opened an account.

By contrast TransferWise present the information in a more customer-friendly way.

TransferWise information

There’s a summary right there as to which countries are covered.

HSBC do offer an account that does something similar, but there is a list of eligibility criteria that will exclude many of the new generation of international workers, some of whom will end up rich but sticking with the new players. Maybe HSBC have their eye on this but history is littered with the remains of businesses that didn’t move early enough to deal with challengers.

UX, Design, and Research are critical functions for fintech

Fintech startups and established businesses, like all digital businesses, need to treat the customer experience as a core business competency. That means doing the research to understand the customer perspective – what information does the customer need along the way? Can they find it easily? Can the customer transact easily? Does the design reflect brand values and support the usability?

That means recruiting and keeping specialists who know how to do this stuff. Good UX/UI and research people will be able to apply their skills across business domains.

A founder or CEO who thinks they know what a user interface should look like, or how it should work, and thinks they don’t need design expertise is unlikely to be the success they think they should be.