February 25, 2021

Career Sites: The Misplaced Keys to Unlocking Direct Sourcing Success

Since January, we’ve been discussing the trends that will influence the staffing industry in 2021, many of which emerged from the ProcureCon Virtual Expo. If you didn’t have a chance to attend, here’s a detailed recap of the topics and panels. It’s clear that things are changing, and not exclusively because of the pandemic. In some ways, the shifts forced upon us by COVID-19 served as an accelerant for paradigms that were already hovering on the horizon. And the topic that most preoccupied the panelists at ProcureCon was direct sourcing. Yet despite the rush to capitalize on this new model, it seems that some basic elements have gone unacknowledged, primarily the importance of career sites. 

Career Sites Are Your Employment Brand Showcase

Candidates today have higher expectations for their job searches and the technologies that power them. Young talent grew up in a digital world where social interactions and sprawling vistas of information opened up in a few clicks of the keyboard. Workers also have more options in selecting employers and conducting their own research into best-fit cultures. Despite the emphasis our industry has placed on social recruiting and new hiring platforms, the career site is far from dead or forgotten—at least to job seekers. As contingent workforce program leaders and their staffing partners hunt for the most skilled talent on the market, perhaps it’s time to rethink the importance of career sites.

It may surprise people to learn that 64% of candidates said compelling career sites were the most valuable resources for exploring job opportunities, according to research by the Talent Board.. 

After surveying 100,000 candidates from among some 200 companies, company career sites turned out to be the most valuable resource candidates use when looking into a company. Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of candidates listed it among the five most valuable resources. That was not far off from twice the next most mentioned resource, job notifications or agents.

What does this have to do with direct sourcing? Well, as LiveHire Co-Founder Mike Haywood pointed out, only 6% of Fortune 1000 companies even have contractor roles posted on their career pages. So they’re not leveraging their employment brands, they're hobbling their efforts to grow a direct sourcing talent cloud, and they’re not proactively building a pipeline of candidates to curate for speedy deployments. 

The industry over the past few years has understandably been consumed by big data, people analytics, and technology. All of that remains essential behind the scenes. Our recruiting strategies, however, must sell an employment brand—the client’s and the staffing firm’s. It’s not enough to provide candidates with compensation figures, numbers about the company’s growth or competitive rankings. We must engage them, entice them and inspire them. That means shining a brilliant spotlight on corporate culture, opportunity, vision, mission and career development. In short, our success often hinges on our ability to become recruitment marketers.

You Can’t Fish Without Bait

Just as consumers visit the websites of their favorite retailers to study their brands, so do candidates explore a potential employer’s career page to gauge a sense of employment brand. People seek strong connections with companies in which they’ll invest. The same holds true for workers looking to invest their skills and talents in a position. An engaging career site remains one of the most prominent displays of an employer’s values, mission, commitments and incentives. 

The mix of data, technology, and aesthetics creates the wow factor that will entice talent to a company. The impact must be immediate, powerful, and alluring. According to scientific studies sponsored by Microsoft, researchers discovered that the average human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds over the last six years. To put it in a different perspective, scientists now believe our attention spans, long-term, are one second less than that of goldfish. The culprit? Smartphones. 

To be fair, it’s not that smartphones and instant access to scores of data have made us less intelligent. The study found that people have grown adept at multitasking. They absorb tremendous amounts of information quickly and have high bursts of attention in the short-term. However, that means people now discern what will be relevant or meaningful to them at accelerated rates. If your career site fails to capture a candidate’s interest right away, he or she will rapidly move on to another.

Key Elements of Captivating Career Sites

Think of your career site as the culmination and showcase of all your recruitment marketing efforts. It should combine your strategies, tactics, social media, hiring events, targeted content, SEO, case studies, testimonials and even analytics. People, whether as consumers or job shoppers, respond to the pitch yet want data to bolster the claims.

On the backend, the career site becomes your reporting mechanism. It’s a hub to attract interested leads and then convert them to applicants or members of a talent network. As with any other marketing endeavor, the results must be measured and analyzed to ensure ongoing performance improvements. If you can’t engage leads and influence them to act on your career site, then your recruitment marketing spend is wasted.

In order to design a platform that meets the needs of candidates and your internal marketing analysis teams, here are some best practices.

The Marketing Vehicle

  • Feature testimonials from clients and actual employees who supported contingent workforce programs at those sites. Encourage them to share their experiences with your staffing firm, in their own words.
  • Make sure the site is responsive and can be easily accessed on multiple devices. Your core content should be simple to see, read and digest. Google offers a great tool for testing your site’s responsive design across media: computers, smartphones, tablets, etc.
  • Promote messaging that invites diversity candidates.
  • Provide regular updates of hiring drives or campus recruitment fairs.
  • Always use authentic images and videos. Streaming video apps have had tremendous success in helping companies showcase their employment cultures to prospective talent around the globe. Many companies have live streamed their internal talent discussing the business culture, the work, the perks and more. Candidates want a genuine sense of the company, not stock photography and actors.
  • Post job descriptions that impart engaging, accurate and informative details about the position, the company, its culture and its opportunities.
  • Develop relevant content and specific candidate resources. A regular blog with useful job searching tips is a great start. Premium content can elevate the experience through white papers, studies, webinars, resume templates and more.
  • Try to refine your content so that it emphasizes the employment brand more than the duties of the job.

The Data Machine

  • Ensure that your landing pages for job opportunities are search engine optimized (SEO). Keyword-rich content, links to resources, headings, URLs, and images all contribute to your site’s authority, which determines its ranking in searches.
  • To really fuel your SEO, incorporate unique keywords that are specific to each job description. Successful companies create individual landing pages for each job posting, optimized with keywords and descriptive content.
  • Integrate your social media with the career site and the client’s profile. 
  • Capture, track and report on data across devices, especially mobile.
  • Convert “leads” into “customers” (job searchers into applicants) through compelling calls-to-action (CTA). These should appear throughout the site, on blogs and landing pages. 
  • Consider issuing job alerts as CTAs where candidates can apply for opportunities.
  • Design a seamless flow from your career pages to the actual applicant tracking system or hiring software.
  • Enroll your site in a roust analytics platform such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

Other Creative Approaches

Passive Candidates

Not every person checking out new car models online is in the market to buy. Talent are no different. Over the past two years, the industry has witnessed an Increased focus on passive talent. According to LinkedIn’s data, 73% of employed professionals were receptive to hearing from staffing firms as passive candidates. Passive job seekers often become the best employees. On average, staffing providers spend 80% to 90% of their efforts developing networks and courting passive talent. Corporate teams, conversely, often have time enough only to source active candidates.

Your career site can become a magnet for these passive professionals. Consider creating a talent network CTA on your site. Invite employed talent to register as members of this community, where they will receive alerts for upcoming positions that may interest them. Using a simple form, you can gather details about their interests, experience, skills, motivations and more. 

Reviews and Awards

Social media now dominates how people perceive a business. Poor ratings on Glassdoor, Yelp, Indeed or other networks can cripple an employment brand. Great reviews solidify it. Be sure to feature awards and recognition you have earned, from the industry and clients. There is a caveat to this, though. Any content you push must be relevant and demonstrate value. Put another way, ask yourself: “Do my candidates care about this award?” If your site is filled with nothing but niche business association memberships, industry accolades, or vanity honors (like those “40 Under 40” things), you risk turning the audience off. Candidates don’t care if you gave a speech at the local chamber of commerce. They don’t care that your VP was named “best dressed” in the industry. They want to see awards that speak to your success in placing talent, providing an amazing culture, embracing inclusion, promoting growth, and advocating for stellar worker treatment.


A diverse talent population is instrumental to any company’s growth, competitive advantage in the market, morale, innovation and bottom-line profits. Career pages are excellent places to tell your story. There, you can reach out to diverse talent directly through emotional testimonials and personal experiences from colleagues. Many companies include educational resources, reports, press coverage, data on the organization’s investments to diversity, and content that speaks to the benefits of an inclusive workforce.

Your Career Page Is a Limousine in the Candidate Journey, Not a Cab

The candidate’s journey to job discovery informs his or her experience in a contingent workforce program. Unlike a direct-hire scenario, contingent workforce engagements involve more moving parts. Although talent are often the W2 employees of staffing firms, their roles may expand to support MSPs and clients. In a way, every group in the program has an employment brand to sell. Staffing suppliers who develop amazing career pages focus on highlighting their clients and even the MSPs running those programs. MSPs may consider using their influence to help clients revamp their own career pages to appeal more to contingent professionals. With eight seconds to capture a candidate’s interest, a fresh, authentic and engaging career page could be the wow factor you need.

Image by Joshua Woroniecki from Pixabay

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