Candidates are watching you. It sounds creepy but it’s true. They’re Googling your company, pulling up employee profiles on LinkedIn, reading reviews on Glassdoor. They’re stalking you—as they should be. After all, choosing an employer is a major life decision: the average person spends over 13 years at work over the course of their lifetime.
The place these job stalkers go most is your careers site, which is one of the primary fact-finding tools at a candidate’s disposal. So, is it ready for visitors? Is it easy to navigate? Informative? Search engine optimized? Mobile friendly? Personalized? Helpful? Most importantly, is it engaging? Because while it’s true that a new job is a huge decision, it’s also true that our attention span—even for important stuff—is minuscule (current stats put it at eight seconds; that’s less than the attention span of a goldfish!).
In short: Is your careers site up for the job? If not, keep reading. We’ll share some tips to get it there.
Choose the Right Careers Site Platform
Make sure to carefully think through the technology behind your careers site. We have more on that subject here. Does your tech play nice with your ATS? How about your CRM? How easy is it to create new pages? Do your research—the platform you choose can make or break your careers site.
Make Your Careers Site Mobile Friendly
One of the first tasks on your Careers Site To-Do List should be make it responsive—i.e., your site needs to work on mobile devices. If a candidate can’t research a company using their phone, they’re going to find another company.
[Warning: We’re about to get technical. If you want to leave this stuff to your designer and skip to the next section, do it. Just remember this important takeaway: Your careers site must be mobile friendly!]
Okay, where were we?
Responsive design allows your website to automatically adapt to any device or screen size. So whether a candidate visits your website on a phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer, it will look as you intended it to.
To achieve this, responsive design uses Cascading Style Sheets (you’ve probably heard this referred to as CSS). CSS—and the one-site-fits-all results—will make it so your site works everywhere, everything gets scaled appropriately, and you don’t need to send visitors to different versions depending on their technology. Check out side-by-side comparisons here, where you can see how a single site plays out across multiple screen types.
Mobile job applications: 2 truths, 1 solution
But what about job applications? How do you make those mobile friendly?
Mobile job applications truth #1: Most people browse social media on mobile devices.
Mobile job applications truth #2: Applying for a job on a cell phone is not a good experience.
What’s this mean for your candidates? Well, if your social links send job seekers to your careers site to apply, you may see an increase in drop offs once they get to the application.
Solution: Instead of driving to an application page, use social posts to send potential candidates to creative alternatives that are easier to tackle on a phone—maybe a page called “Five Things to Know About Us” or an opportunity to join your talent network.
Let Candidates Drive Your Content
The candidate should be at the center of every decision you make regarding your careers site. A job seeker lands on your homepage—and then what? Think about what’s in it for them. Imagine what they might want to know about your company. Picture their user experience. By putting yourself in your candidates’ shoes and creating content around them, you’re on your way to an effective careers site.
What candidates want to know
Your site should include some basics about your organization and what you’re offering. Consider including:
- Fast facts about your company, including number of employees, locations, years in business, etc.
- Company values
- Awards (especially ones related to employment)
- Career paths (more on this below)
- Volunteer opportunities and programs
- Employee resource groups
- Employee testimonials
- Social media feeds and links (more on this below)
- A call to action to join your talent network
- Events (job fairs, campus visits, open houses, meet-and-greets—list events you’re hosting where candidates can make a personal connection)
Showcase Your Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Let’s rephrase that: showcase your diversity, equity, and inclusion if you have it to showcase. Honesty is especially crucial when it comes to DE&I. If you have good data to share, by all means, share it! If you don’t, share what you’re doing to change that fact.
There are lots of places throughout your careers site where you can highlight or underline your DE&I. For instance:
- Imagery. Use images of real employees and avoid stock unless absolutely necessary (candidates will quickly spot a fake).
- Testimonials. Feature diverse employees discussing their roles, your culture, career paths, growth potential, if they feel they can be themselves at work, and anything else that promotes your DE&I.
- Employee resource groups. List your ERGs with a brief description so candidates can see how diverse employees support each other.
- Volunteer opportunities. Use video or photography of your employees engaging in volunteer opportunities to show an inclusive, empathetic workforce.
- Transparency. Your shift towards true diversity and inclusion may be a work in progress—that’s fine. Be transparent about it. Consider sharing data and goals so job seekers can get a true picture of the current state of diversity at your company, and a sense of how it’s evolving.
- Equal Opportunity Employer statement. An EOE statement expresses your commitment to diversity, equality, and inclusion. You can include a basic version or take it up a notch with a branded statement.
The sections above are important, but what’s more important is to think about what the candidate wants to know—not just what you want to tell them.
One of the most powerful ways to put candidates at the center of your careers site is through personalization, which uses AI and machine learning to tailor content to a specific site visitor.
Imagine a job seeker has visited your careers site several times (they are stalking you after all …). With personalization, you can serve them new, relevant job postings. You can share blog posts related to the field they’re interested in. You can direct them to a veterans’ landing page if they have a military background. You can offer employee profiles of someone who works in a similar role. The more tailored the content, the more of an impact your company can make.
With the right personalization technology, the candidate won’t even be aware that the process is happening—suddenly, they’ll just have the information they want exactly when they want it.
Stay Consistent with Your Employer Brand
Your careers site is a major (perhaps the major) communications touchpoint. It needs to accurately convey your employer brand.
Remember that an employer brand is everything a candidate thinks of when they think of an employer. That includes color palette, imagery, tone of voice, featured content, even ease of use (or lack thereof). If there were no logo on the screen while you viewed Facebook’s careers site, you’d still know it was theirs. Same with Apple, Nike, Chipotle. The employer brands of those companies come through loud and clear, creating consistency and trust. Make sure yours do too.
Be honest about your company—remember, you don’t want to set up a disconnect between what you promise candidates and what they’ll find if they join the organization. Go for authenticity above all else—no stock shots of diverse engineers if you don’t have any, for example. No boasts about work-life balance if your company culture encourages long hours. No elaborate descriptions of your collaborative work environment if that’s just an open-plan office.
Instead, be transparent. Use videos of real employees—even better, make it user-generated content. Link to Glassdoor, Indeed, or Comparably reviews so job seekers can get an unvarnished glimpse of your organization.
Honesty creates trust. Trust creates loyal employees. And loyal employees create stronger companies.
Keep Copy Concise
According to Chartbeat, 55% of web users spend less than 15 seconds on a given page. And then there’s that pesky attention-span deficit we mentioned above. You may get a small uptick in attention for a careers site—a job is a major life decision and all—but the point is: get to the point. Websites are a visual medium, so let your images do the heavy lifting and keep copy short and relevant.
Make Your Careers Site Accessible
As companies transition toward more inclusive cultures, there’s been a greater push for website accessibility. Accessible websites are designed so that anyone and everyone can use them, regardless of any barrier like learning disabilities, visual impairments, hearing-related disabilities, motor impairment, restricted bandwidth, and speed, or any other roadblock.
When your careers site is correctly designed, it gives all users equal access to information, brings in more diverse candidates, and supports your work to create a more inclusive workplace.
6 ways to make your careers site accessible
- Screen reader compatibility
A screen reader is an assistive technology used by people with vision impairments that turns text, buttons, images, and other elements into speech.
- Video captions
Subtitles are a translation for people who don’t speak the language being used in the video. Video captions go a step further. These are designed specifically for people with hearing challenges and include non-speech elements like footsteps, slamming doors, a throat being cleared, etc.
- Alt tagging
Alt tags (aka “alt attributes” and “alt descriptions”) give screen readers a way to communicate visual content like images and photographs. (Bonus: they also give search engines a text alternative to images, which helps with your SEO.)
- Extended time on assessments
If you require timed assessments on your careers site, provide an option to request more time if needed to provide equal opportunity to job seekers with cognitive impairments.
- Color contrast
Website users with visual disabilities may have trouble perceiving your content if the colors don’t have enough contrast.
- Keyboard accessibility
Many candidates with motor disabilities are unable to use a mouse or touchpad. Be sure your content can be navigated using a keyboard only.
Explain What Candidates Should Expect
Candidates don’t want surprises, so tell them upfront about your hiring process. Give them a quick timeline or list to walk them through what happens after they submit their application, explaining your procedures for review and assessment, interview(s), offer, onboarding, etc.
Put Social Front and Center
This best practice should go without saying, but you’d be surprised what slips through the cracks! Be sure to place your social media links where they’re easy to find and use. In fact, you can even try built-in widgets that display tweets and posts so users can explore your social channels while remaining on your site.
However you handle social, you want to communicate that your company has a thriving community and allow the candidate to picture themselves as part of it.
Feature Growth Opportunities
There are several different categories of growth at work. Focusing on one or all of them will help convince job seekers that your company is the right fit.
A job seeker is more likely to apply for a position that has growth potential, so be sure to showcase career paths on your site. Even if you’re hiring for entry-level call center positions, for example, you can still include a few bullets about where employees can go next within the company: technical support, sales manager, executive director, etc.
Video will come in handy for this section of your careers site. Showcasing inspiring video testimonials from employees who began in the mailroom and worked their way into the corner office is a great way to motivate job seekers to become candidates and ultimately employees. (Bonus: this is also a good way to showcase your company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion.)
Money talks. If you offer performance-based compensation, be sure to feature it to motivate potential candidates to apply.
There are other ways to grow at work that have nothing to do with promotions or paychecks. Consider highlighting your work-life balance (if you have it—remember our point about honesty!) with a snapshot of ways you encourage employees to pursue personal goals.
Learning and development
If you have a robust L&D program, let candidates know. The right training is a stepping stone in all of the above categories.
Make It Easy to Apply
It’s human nature to seek the path of least resistance. A job search is no exception. So, make it easy for candidates to apply by being sure your application is no more than two clicks away and that you have multiple “apply now” buttons throughout your careers site.
Create a Clear Call to Action
Your call to action (or CTA) is the thing you want candidates to do after they visit your careers site. You may have multiple CTAs (“Join our Talent Network” and “View Open Positions,” for example), but whatever you’re asking the job seeker to do must be easy to spot and easy to complete. Place your most important CTA (“Apply now,” “Join our team,” etc.) “above the fold” (meaning it will be visible without scrolling) so that it’s the first thing a candidate sees. Other tips: make the font large and easy to read and be sure your CTA button stands out from the rest of the page. It also doesn’t hurt to repeat your CTA again lower on your page, “below the fold.”
Tracking will tell you if your careers site is doing its job. Google Analytics is a good place to start for insights into candidate behavior. It can tell you:
- Where job seekers are coming from: paid media, organic traffic from your SEO strategy, etc.
- Your conversion rate: the Google Tag Manager provides data on number of clicks to apply, completed applications, and more. It will help you determine what sources drive the highest conversion rates.
- If your application process is successful: the Google Analytics Funnel Visualization feature lets you track the application process so you can see where candidates drop off. (Bonus: Google Analytics is free and used by over 60% of businesses online.)
Once you’ve nailed the basic careers site best practices above, it’s time to start getting creative. Put yourself back in the shoes of your candidate. What would add to their experience? What would delight them? What would express your employer brand in a way that’s true, a way that connects with the type of candidates who will thrive at your organization?
Here are a few thought starters:
- Video tours of the office
- Interactive infographics and apps
- Scheduled webinars or chats
- Opportunities to connect with a future colleague
- Company playlist
- Recruitment blog
- Assessment quizzes or gamification
- Newsletter sign up
- Deeper dives on hard-to-fill roles
Remember, you want your careers site to be functional, of course, but you also want it to stand out. Look through the resources below—behind each link is a curated list of great careers site examples.
- The author explains what makes each of these ten examples work.
- A designer gives their perspective on what makes these seven careers sites stand out.
- This post lists common challenges (“you’re not a popular brand,” “you have jobs in multiple locations”) and provides examples of careers sites that solve the issue.
We hope these ideas will help you get your careers site off the ground. Now it’s time for the fun part: improving, tweaking, and developing a site that evolves along with your company.