With low unemployment, a candidate-controlled market, and social review platforms that have magnified transparency into corporate cultures, attracting candidates to job postings has become a tougher nut to crack. Candidates today have higher expectations for their job searches and the technologies that power them. Younger 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, mobile apps, and Tinder-esque hiring platforms, the career site is far from dead or forgotten. 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 relevance and impact of polished career sites.
Career Sites Showcase Your Employment Brand...or Lack Thereof
According to LinkedIn data, candidates are 1.8 times more likely to apply for a job if they know the company. That’s an important figure for a couple of reasons. First, as LinkedIn also stated, 90% of prospective workers, including passive talent, remain open to new opportunities, even if they’re already employed. Second, career pages have proven to be more effective advertisements of a company’s culture and employment brand than social networks or review sites such as Glassdoor. Consider some other vital statistics.
- As RecruitingDaily’s Matt Charney pointed out, 85% of job hunts begin with a search engine. Why? Because candidates want to research their potential employers before considering any aspect of the posting.
- Career pages continue to climb as critical sources of hires. Based on numbers from CareerXroads, well-crafted career pages account for 94.1% more hires than in previous years.
- Despite the demonstrated increase in applicant volume from revitalized career sites, they persist as an underutilized resource. From Aman Brar’s recent article in Human Resource Executive, “In fact, around 40% of Fortune 500 rely on their ATS only or link jobs to their ATS job-search results and descriptions. By making major improvements to a career site, employers will be able to unlock new opportunities to engage with more high-quality candidates.”
- Close to 75% of companies, LinkedIn said, see a lift in career pages when they run traffic driver ads, further increasing the power and effectiveness of promoting an employer or client.
It’s true that people analytics now drive the focus of contingent workforce leaders in the staffing industry. We concentrate on metrics, key performance indicators, Big Data and business intelligence. And that information is instrumental 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 spotlight on corporate culture, opportunity, vision, mission, and career development. In short, our success often hinges on our command of stellar marketing techniques.
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.
SmashFly released a report in 2016 on effective career sites, driving home the incredible advantage of a renewed candidate experience. The conclusions remain just as relevant today.
“Your career site is not always the start of the candidate journey, but it is the pivotal touchpoint in your recruitment strategy where you convert passive visitors into leads, active visitors into applicants and communicate employer brand over job requisitions,” the paper begins. “The keys to success are an authentic and vibrant employer brand that speaks to candidates’ ambitions and emotions and a thoughtfully-designed site that drives and measures action. It’s a perfect blend of art and science.”
These attributes—the mix of data, technology, and aesthetics—create the wow factor that will draw talent to a company. The impact must be immediate, powerful, and alluring. If you consider the scientific studies sponsored by Microsoft a few years ago, in which researchers discovered that the average human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds over the last decade, we require more instant gratification and pizzazz to keep focus than a goldfish. The culprit? Smart devices.
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.
Captivating Career Page Elements
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. As SmashFly explained: “Your career site is a hub to attract interested leads and then convert them to an applicant or part of your talent network, which is why it’s critical to measure your success. If you can’t engage leads and influence them to act on your career site, then all of that 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.
Front End: Marketing
- 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 such as Periscope, Livestream, StreamNow, and Facebook Live have had tremendous success in helping companies showcase their employment cultures to prospective talent. 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.
Back End: Data Collection
- Ensure that your webpages and 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.
Use the data generated by the site to track key performance metrics for hiring and outreach success.
- Visits and visitors
- Job views
- Search and referral sources
- Engagement, pages per visit, and time spent on the site
Social media 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.
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.
Make the Candidate Experience an Exciting Journey, Not a Chore
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 mere seconds to capture a candidate’s interest, a fresh, authentic, and engaging career page could be the wow factor you need.