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

Other Information-Gathering Elements for All Visitors

In addition to assessing qualifications and capturing resume details, there is other information you should attempt to get from all visitors, whether they are active or passive, during their visit to your site. Elements under this feature include:

  1. Capture Their Job-Switch Criteria. This element requires applicants to list the criteria they would use when they decide to switch jobs. By identifying applicants' job search criteria, interests, or job acceptance criteria, you can better sell them on your firm and the job.
  2. Identify From Where They Came. If individuals are visiting from a computer owned by a particular company, you can identify that by its IP address (this allows you to treat visitors from target companies differently). In addition, technology often allows you to identify the last website they visited right before yours, which might (if they came from another firm's jobs page) help you determine what other firms they are considering and whether they are active job seekers.
  3. When Do They Need a Job? Great websites treat active job seekers with a sense of urgency, because you are likely to face competition in landing candidates. As a result, you should attempt to find out if visitors are actively seeking jobs at this time. Usually just asking them to tell you the number of weeks before they desire to have a new position or the number of firms they are presently considering will tell you all that you need to know. If they do not specify, you should now classify them as "non-lookers," and assume that you'll have to treat them differently in order to convince them to apply and accept.

Careers Page Features That Sell Them on the Firm

In most cases, it is necessary to convince visitors that you are a viable employer before you sell them on jobs. Selling them on the firm or organization is usually done on the initial landing pages of a site. The key to success is identifying the compelling and differentiated features that make working at your firm unique and exciting. Elements that are generally effective in this selling-them-on-the-firm feature include:

  1. List Best-Place-to-Work Awards. Nothing builds your employment brand image faster than winning a "best place to work" type award. Each page should highlight your awards and provide information on each of the national and local "best places to work" awards that the firm has received. Be sure to highlight the specific features that helped you win the award. Whenever your firm was among the top firms in your industry, make sure that visitors are aware of that fact. Also include when your firm is listed among the "most admired" firms or when it is recognized for excellence in diversity hiring.
  2. A Recruiting Video. Provide a five-minute or less recruiting video (Google has an excellent example of one) featuring a few of your employees. It can either be professionally done or done in a more amateurish fashion by one of your employees (to make it appear more genuine).
  3. Show the Physical Aspects. Many candidates want to know about exciting physical aspects of the firm. You should include a list with examples and provide pictures or a virtual tour of the headquarters or local site. Include aspects like an onsite gym, great food, recreational aspects, "green" features, modern technology, and equipment. In order to identify these physical features, survey recent hires and employees to identify what might excite visitors.
  4. A Live Web Cam. Providing a live Web cam showing the hustle and bustle and the energy can be a powerful tool. You can also utilize multiple cameras to allow them to choose different views of your facility (including the lobby, onsite childcare, the cafeteria, the gym, and the weather). Another option is to provide taped footage.
  5. Employee Testimonials. This element provides short testimonials (video, audio, or narrative) from selected individuals on why they find your firm to be a great place to work.
  6. Demonstrate Your Firm's Success. Provide graphical information to show the successes of the firm that would impress potential applicants. Consider successes in the stock price growth, profit growth, market share increases, growth in employee headcount, expansion into new geographic regions, and the fact that the firm has had no major layoffs. Include positive comments by industry analysts or from the leaders of admired firms that are your customers.
  7. Demonstrate Your Firm's "Greenness." As more potential recruits expect firms to have an excellent environmental record, it becomes increasingly important for organizations to demonstrate what they've done on their home pages and careers websites. Highlight both the actions you're planning and those you have completed in the areas of sustainability, minimizing your carbon imprint, utilizing alternative energy, recycling, purchasing locally, utilizing electric and hybrid vehicles, encouraging the use of mass transit, and the support you give your employees so that they can reduce their impacts on the environment.
  8. A Day in the Life of an Employee. This element provides a more detailed profile of the activities of a typical day of one of your employees. It can be a narrative, audio, or video format, and it could include a question-and-answer feature as well.
  9. "People-Like-Me-Already-Work-Here" Feature. This element allows individuals to see that people with similar backgrounds and interests already work at the firm. The simplest format is to provide profiles of your employees (narrative or video). You should also consider a search that allows them to both enter their interests, background, education, demographic features, sexual orientation, hobbies, university affiliation, etc., and to seek out similar profiles of individuals. On the opposite end of the spectrum, profile employees who have won major awards and honors. Some firms make the profiles anonymous (to avoid raiding) while others provide only the first name. However, providing the picture and the full name has a more powerful impact.
  10. Highlight Your Diversity. Merely stating that you celebrate diversity will have little impact on applicants. Instead, you must demonstrate your diversity in the most desirable jobs (manager and professional positions). You should also use statistics, employee profiles, lists of diversity-related activities, use of diverse suppliers, community activities, and your firm's support of diverse affinity groups.
  11. Illustrate Your Culture and Values. Provide information illustrating your company's values and unique aspects of your culture. Listing them is not sufficient. You need to provide examples that show how the company actually lives up to its values every day.
  12. YouTube Links to Demonstrate Excitement at Your Firm. Include links to videos that appear on YouTube or similar sites that positively highlight the firm or demonstrate the energy and excitement associated with working there.
  13. Meet the Manager. The careers page will have a "meet our managers" feature (video, audio, or narrative) that allows visitors to understand the culture and management style of your firm by seeing the profile of one or more of your managers. It may be general in nature or it can provide the specific profile of the manager who they might be working with. Profiles should include how managers communicate, involve workers in decisions, encourage innovation, and praise or recognize their employees.
  14. Profile Opportunities to Learn. The careers page should provide detailed information on typical growth and learning opportunities. It's important to note that general statements or lists of educational benefits is not powerful enough to differentiate your firm or to convince potential applicants that managers are superior to what they have now. Consider including video clips of some seminars that are offered, a listing of specific courses, a sample employee learning plan, or the average amount of money or number of hours of training that the average employee gets (compared to the industry average). Also, consider a profile of the learning experiences of a selected employee whom you profile.
  15. Profile Outside-of-Work Activities. The site provides information about outside-of-work activities, such as community involvement, employees' sports teams, sponsored recreational trips, and other fun events the company helps organize.
  16. Profile Technical Accomplishments. Include listings of the firm's recent patents, innovations, technical awards, and technological advances to demonstrate that your firm is on the leading edge.
  17. Press Releases. Include a link to recent press releases to let visitors see for themselves what's happening in the company.
  18. Articles Highlighting the Company. Include copies or links to articles from leading publications that mention the firm or its key employees. Also, include the best articles written by your employees and a listing of books and key research reports they have written.
  19. TV Show Clips. When technology allows, include video clips (links or transcripts) from TV shows featuring the firm and its employees.
  20. Professional Presentations. Provide copies or links to samples of professional presentations and speeches given by key employees. It can be as simple as a link to the presentation slide show or a video of the presentation.
  21. Highlight Your Firm's Alumni. Demonstrate how your firm is an excellent training ground for future leaders by listing the firm's alumni who have achieved fame in the industry or in public service after leaving the company. In the same light, consider listing the names of some new hires and their credentials to demonstrate the quality of people who are joining your firm.

Jobs Page Features That Sell Visitors on "This Job"

No matter how exciting the company appears on the website, you won't get very many applicants unless your follow-up jobs page (where actual job openings are listed) also excites the visitor. Some of the elements that can help sell visitors on your individual jobs include:

  1. Exciting Job Descriptions. The action with the most impact on the jobs page is to write position descriptions so that they're compelling. Unfortunately, most job or position descriptions that are posted on websites are painfully dull. Don't let compensation write whatever you post on the Web. Instead, the duties and responsibilities should make the job interesting. When appropriate, make sure to show that the job involves teamwork, innovation, and the latest equipment, and that the job's output is important to the company. Work with marketing to ensure that each description makes the job sound like something that would be a step up from the ordinary. Test them to make sure that they have the desired effect of exciting the potential candidate.
  2. FAQ's About "This" Job. If individuals have questions about a particular job, it causes them to hesitate before they apply for it. The best way to avoid this problem is to provide a link to frequently asked questions and answers about this particular job or job family. Unless it's a brand new job, you should be able to identify the likely questions by surveying candidates and new hires in those positions. You can also identify the typical frustrations that people in those jobs and at other firms frequently face, and then provide information to show that those frustrations are less likely to happen at your firm. Be sure to test your answers to ensure that they clear up anything that could be vague. As an alternative, you can allow potential applicants to e-mail their personal questions to a designated recruiter.
  3. Job Search Feature. It's important to make sure that the search feature on the jobs page (there might also be a search feature on the careers page) allows potential applicants to enter terms related to skills, tools, responsibilities, locations, or their hobbies in order to display the jobs that fit their interests (even if they don't know the job's title). If visitors used your jobs page's keyword search feature to identify their relevant opportunities, use technology to highlight each of the search terms they entered within the actual position description, so that they can see its relevance.
  4. Selling the Location. Because most jobs are location specific, the jobs page itself should provide a link to positive information about the facility and the city in which the job is located. This information could include compelling features of the job facility as well as information about the region's weather, low crime rates, great recreation, cultural activities, clean air, easy commutes, low housing prices, or superior schools and universities. Global jobs, in particular, need to provide more detailed information to convince leery potential candidates.
  5. Convince the Family. Because family and friends can influence an individual's decision to seek a new job, the careers page should target information that also helps to sell anyone who might influence this individual. For those who are part of the millennium generation, information should be included to help convince the parents, should they get involved in the job-search process (Enterprise Rent-A-Car excels at this).

Unique Treatment on the Jobs Page for Targeted Jobs and Highly-Qualified Applicants

In some cases, hard-to-fill jobs and high-volume positions need to be treated differently than other opportunities that are posted on the jobs page. In the same light, individuals who are assessed to be highly qualified should also be treated differently. Some of the elements of this targeted approach include:

  1. Direct-Contact Opportunity. For highly-qualified individuals or for any nearly-impossible-to-fill jobs, the site should provide an opportunity for direct personal contact (phone or e-mail) with current employees who are in or are familiar with the position (the Cisco "friends" program was an excellent example of this concept). When direct contact is not feasible, having an employee write a blog related to the particular position can also have an impact.
  2. Profiles of the Team. Consider linking hard-to-fill jobs and high-volume hiring jobs with brief narrative profiles of the hiring manager and team members in order to give potential applicants an idea of what kinds of individuals they would be working with. Employees can be profiled in a baseball card format.
  3. Additional Information for "Hard-to-Fill Jobs. Any jobs that have been historically hard to fill should receive special treatment. That is an opportunity to view more in-depth information in all areas in order to increase the number of qualified applicants.
  4. Additional Information for High-Volume Hiring Jobs. Jobs that involve hiring a high volume of individuals during the year should also get special treatment. Potential applicants should be given the opportunity to link to more detailed information (including short video clips of workers in this job) in order to increase the number of qualified applicants and help reduce recruiter's workloads by decreasing the number of unqualified ones.

Features That Make it Easy to Find "My" Job

Many times, visitors don't want to read through the painfully long list of job openings that is found on the jobs page of a corporate website. As a result, it's critical that the page prior to it (usually the careers page) contain a search feature that allows an individual to go directly to the job that is the best fit for him. Although on the surface it might seem easy to find the right job, it often is not because different firms use markedly different job titles. If you want to avoid frustration and ensure that applicants apply for the most appropriate jobs, your website must have a sophisticated job-finding feature. Some of the elements of that find-a-job feature include:

  1. "Find the Right Job" Search Feature. The jobs search engine on the careers page allows a visitor to find a job without knowing its title. Like any search engine, this feature would allow you to enter job titles, skills, and responsibilities and instantly call up any relevant jobs. Like a Google or Yahoo! search, it should rank in descending order the jobs that the search feature finds based on how closely they fit the search string the candidate entered. The search feature must be continually tested to ensure that it brings up all relevant jobs without any omissions.
  2. A "Suggest a Job" Element. This element is similar to many shopping websites in that it identifies other jobs that previous searchers who looked at a particular position also applied for. By providing the visitor with suggestions about similar jobs that he would likely be interested in (based on the search experience of others), you help ensure that he easily finds all of the relevant jobs.
  3. Jobs That Fit the Targeted Region. The job search feature on both the careers page and the jobs page should only pull up jobs that are within commuting distance of where the individual wants to work. Remote jobs would appear regardless of their targeted geographic area.
  4. Jobs That Fit the Targeted Pay Range. Much like shopping sites, this job search feature would allow you to enter a minimum salary and would only provide jobs that have the potential for meeting that minimum. In addition, if the individual only wanted a job that included full benefits or certain perks, only those positions would be listed.
  5. A "Closed Position" Search Element. Because not all positions are open whenever a potential candidate visits, this element allows the visitor to search all existing jobs. The individual would then be told how frequently a selected job comes open. In addition, he or she could sign up for an automatic "push" notification via e-mail when that position does open up.
  6. A College Student Search Element. The search feature would allow students to search for internships or co-op or part-time positions that would be of interest to undergraduates. It would also allow soon-to-be graduates to identify the types of jobs that recent graduates have successfully obtained at your firm.

Hopefully, you can see that creating a "wow" career site really is all about servicing the candidate. In the next and final issue of this series, I will tackle the remaining feature categories and a few miscellaneous things you should do.

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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