Your Corporate Website Is Boring Applicants (Part II of IV)

Providing Specialized or Localized Information to High-Priority Visitors

If you have identified something unique about visitors or you have classified these people as highly desirable, they should then be shown specialized or localized information that would not be routinely shown to every applicant, in order to excite and sell them. The website would shift or morph (shift the information provided) into a standard template based on predetermined personalization/localization rules in order to fit their profiles. Some of the elements that you should include under this specialized information future include:

  1. An Individualized Note. Applicants might receive relevant notes across the screen based on the information they provided. That note could express a high-interest level in order to excite them. If individuals appear in the customer database, the note might thank them for their patronage or designate them for customer-friendly responses if they are not selected.
  2. A Deeper Level of Information. The site contains multiple layers of information that are provided depending on the categorization or the interest level of the visiting person. Important topic areas may initially present only surface-level points made up of just a few words, but they could expand with a mouse click to more detailed information, possibly even an index of supporting documentation, such as podcasts, video clips, and third-party research reports.
  3. Format Choices. The visitor can choose the format in which information is presented, based on format preferences. The information can be provided using just text, or you can mix text with pictures, videos, audio podcasts, live chat, and downloadable case studies.
  4. People-Like-You-Already-Work-Here Information. For example, if they tell you where they currently work, they could be provided with information on the number of your employees who previously worked at those firms.
  5. Fitting Their Geography. The website could identify the IP address that the visitor originated at in order to determine their current geographic location. The information provided in the jobs listed could then automatically shift to fit their geographic location.
  6. Time-to-Fill Information. If they checked off a high priority job, the site could provide them with information on how soon a hiring decision will (on average) be made on that particular job.
  7. Information for the Ambitious. If the applicants' profiles or the information they provide indicate that they are highly mobile or ambitious, the website could excite them with information about promotional rates (showing them where they would be today if they had joined the firm two years ago). Information can also be provided about average bonuses, stock options, and typical development opportunities.
  8. Visitors from Competitor Firms. The IP address of the visitor to the website might reveal that this individual is working at a competitor's firm. If so, depending on local laws, that information could be used to subtly shift the message provided to the visitor.

Personalized Features and Expedited Treatment

Using any part of the initial identifying information gathered throughout the site, the Web server could invoke rules to provide expedited or special treatment for special visitors. Some of the elements that your webpage should include under this expedited treatment future include:

  1. Personalized Features. To get the attention of prioritized visitors, once you know what universities they attended, the site's colors could shift to those of their alma mater, or their school's fight song could play in the background. The site might also have text messaging capabilities so that personalized or automatic messages could be sent directly to the candidate by a live recruiter.
  2. Expedited Treatment. Individuals who fit into priority categories might receive expedited treatment in the hiring process. For example, individuals with a high desirability score might be immediately offered an opportunity to schedule an interview using your online scheduling feature. If the website matched their names to a name in the who's-who database, they might be asked to immediately call a recruiter or to contact the 24/7 call center. If individuals currently work at a targeted company, they might be asked to come in for an interview even if there was no current opening for their next-level job. If individuals have a great deal of experience and an interest in a hard-to-hire job, they might be shifted directly to the profile completion step. Priority candidates could also be given the opportunity to track the progress of their applications on a password-protected site exclusively for their use.
  3. Dream Job Element. A build-your-dream-job feature allows highly-qualified applicants to spell out the duties and features of their ideal jobs. For these highly-qualified individuals, this provides you with an opportunity to let them know that you have a job that meets their needs, or that you're willing to work with them to develop such an opportunity. For any position, knowing what an individual's dream job is, allows you to identify the job-switch criteria, which is important information for any recruiting sales pitch.
  4. Hiring Both. In extreme cases in which a candidate is highly desirable, you might provide him with a hire-them-both option. It's a highly effective tool, with which you offer the possibility of hiring both him and a colleague at the same time. Obviously, the final decision couldn't be made until you interview both candidates.
  5. Remote Work Option. For exceptional individuals, the option of working remotely is a major differentiator between jobs. Information on this option would only be made available to target special individuals.

Features for Attracting Top Employed Performers (aka Non-Job Lookers or Passives)

Almost invariably, the most desirable hires are currently employed people whose skills are up-to-date. Unfortunately, most top employed performers don't currently need a job and, as a result, they are unlikely to visit your corporate careers or jobs page. There are, however, other ways that you can capture their interests and build a relationship with them. One is to provide them with information that allows them to progress and learn as a professional.

The number one reason why people use the Web is to look for information. As a result, the best corporate sites have features or links that cause quality, employed people to visit the site periodically for either information or for fun, but not initially for a job. The best websites will provide access to the following types of content outside the domain of the careers/jobs page. The content types include:

  1. Product Information. It has links to your products for potential buyers or current users. It provides information about exciting new (or coming) products. By renewing their excitement about your products, you hope to eventually shift that excitement from your products to your firm's jobs.
  2. "Wow" Technology. Provide "wow" website features or unique technology features that are so exciting they become talked about just because they're so unique and advanced. Talked-about features are things that you will tell (or e-mail) your friends about (through viral marketing).
  3. Affinity Features. This information sends a message that people who work at this firm share similar interests with the applicants. It has features that target/find candidates who think like them. For example, it excites people with unique or common interests in sports, animals, hobbies, or demographic characteristics. By providing this information about the interests of your current employees, you can convince others that many additional people just like them already work at your firm.
  4. "Answer Guy" Information Features. This corporate page builds your brand as the "answer place." It includes information, tools, or links that allow visitors to do their current jobs better. Because the page focuses on professional improvement, the best (those who are constantly learning) will visit the site on a regular basis. Include on the site industry events, the latest tools, frequently asked questions, benchmark information, and industry interviews. Once individuals realize that your firm is "in the know," it's almost automatic that they will eventually consider you as a future employer.
  5. Draw Return Visitors. Include interesting things that might draw return visitors, such as music, news, opinions, people changing jobs, hobbies, chat, industry gossip, a contest feature (like "win a car" or other drawing contests or prizes).
  6. Fun Features. The website is fun to visit because it has features like cartoons, jokes, virtual tours, compelling videos, top-10 lists, industry gossip, and even video games. The goal is to encourage regular visits and to show that your company is a fun place to work.
  7. Push Future Job Openings. This element allows visitors to go to your jobs page and sign up for an automatic notification system, which will let them know by e-mail whenever a particular job becomes open. Although this feature is designed primarily for those who are not currently looking for a job, it also works for those that are actively looking. Sophisticated recruiting systems will automatically push jobs to individuals in their database who work at firms that are currently undergoing problems or turmoil (because these individuals might suddenly be more interested in moving).
  8. Self-Assessment Capability. This feature allows visitors to do self-assessments of their skills in order to determine if they are ready to move up. It encourages job movement by providing information to professionals about their potential future earnings, promotion potential, or the soon-to-be-required future competencies.
  9. Prequalification Element. Who hasn't been enthusiastic and encouraged after learning about being prequalified for a mortgage or loan? Well, websites can also excite potential applicants by providing a feature that allows those not currently in the job market to be assessed and later prequalified for an interview for a particular position (though this is not a guarantee of a job). This capability allows individuals who are curious or who anticipate their future availability to find out in advance if their formal applications would be welcomed. Similar to when you prequalify for a car loan and begin shopping in earnest for a car, in the same way, this encouraging information might spur these individuals to become active job seekers at your firm.
  10. Quick Application. Because these individuals are not in the job market, it's necessary to make it easy to apply when they begin to show a passing interest in a new job. This quick application feature might even be outside your careers or jobs page. The goal is that this feature allows the individual to apply for a job in less than five minutes for those in a rush and those with a high likelihood of dropping off if they get bored with the application process. You must time the process to ensure that it is both quick and painless.

Features for Attracting Active Job Seekers (Who Want Jobs in the Immediate Future)

Although not as desirable as currently-employed individuals, it is also important to pay attention to those who are actively in the job-search mode. Active job seekers will make up over 90% of the individuals who visit your careers page. But, it's important to note that because they are actively seeking jobs, they might be applying for jobs at several firms. Which means that if they are any good, you will have to act quickly, because the best ones are likely to be available for only a short period of time. Some of the elements that you should have under this active job-seeker feature include:

  1. Profiler Tool. It's important to make it easy for recruiters and hiring managers to assess applicants. One of the best approaches (in addition to scanning the resume) is to have the applicant fill out a quick profile or summary of their qualifications. It should only take a few minutes but this profile can help both recruiters and the ATS system swiftly qualify this individual.
  2. Broad Acceptance of Formats. Your webpage should accept resumes in a variety of formats. This is particularly important if your firm does not have a strong employment brand, because if applicants cannot use their existing resumes, references, and experience summaries, you are likely going to have a high drop-off rate because they won't be willing to take the time to reformat their resumes just to fit your system.
  3. Links to Job Boards. Because you're targeting active job seekers, it is critical that your careers page has links posted on most job boards and career-oriented sites.
  4. Links to Strategic Partners. If your organization has strong relationships to its strategic partners and large customers, it's wise to provide links to your corporate home page (in a few cases, directly your jobs page).
  5. Sending Jobs to Friends. This element allows the visitor to your jobs page to forward an active job (or any element of your careers or jobs page) to a friend.
  6. Critical Information for Active Job Seekers. Because active job seekers are likely to be looking at many firms, you can better assure they will apply for your firm's jobs if you give them more detailed information than most job sites provide. That supplemental information might include salary ranges, your average days-to-fill, the percentage of applicants that are selected for interviews, and the actual number of vacancies for each posted job. The key is to provide information that causes these active job lookers to differentiate your jobs from the jobs at other firms that provide only vague information.
  7. Discouraging the Unqualified. This element serves to discourage applications from under-qualified and unqualified individuals in order to both ease your recruiting burden and to minimize potential legal issues. To discourage unwanted applicants, use features like profiles of rejected candidates, a list of the common reasons for rejection, accurate and realistic job previews alongside the job listing, precise and accurate minimum qualifications (with warnings that each and every one is strictly enforced), and features that allow visitors to pre-assess their chances online before they officially apply.
  8. Listing of Future Competencies to Warn Applicants. Another way of reducing the volume of applications from marginally-qualified individuals is to provide them with a list of the key competencies or skills that the firm forecasts will be essential for any employee in the next few years. It should also highlight and forecast potential industry problems and opportunities. By demonstrating to the visitor that new and complex competencies and problems lie ahead, you encourage those with these competencies, while discouraging those who are unwilling to change and learn.
  9. Focus on College Hires. Ideally, the careers page would link to a separate page focused on current and former students. It would contain information on targeted campuses for visits and interviews as well as a listing of regular college and diversity job fairs that recruiters would attend. It might also include profiles (written, audio, or video) of successful interns and college hires from several different universities, and a list of the competencies and capabilities that the company looks for in recent graduates. The firm could also provide links to part-time and summer projects for students, as well as online technical contests that the company is sponsoring. The experiences of recent interns as college hires could be profiled through video, podcasts, or blogs. This page could also include information on educational reimbursement benefits for those who wish to pursue advanced degrees.
  10. Listing of Contract Positions. If your firm has a significant contingent workforce, it is important to realize that active job seekers are more willing than most to accept contract or part-time work. As a result, your jobs page should include a section listing contract jobs as well as full-time and part-time employment opportunities. The site should also include language and information that encourages individuals to accept these "lesser" positions. This information might include the conversion rate for benefits that contract workers receive compared to those of regular, full-time positions. While not all ATS systems manage them effectively, emerging sites should allow active candidate to pursue both regular and contract jobs.

That's it for this issue. In the next article, I will tackle features for collecting additional information and will start to talk about features that sell the organization to various audiences.

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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