Deep Dark Truthful Mirror: Your Career Site Blows

Elvis Costello said it best: "One day you're going to have to face the deep dark truthful mirror. And it's going to tell you things I still love you too much to say."

Well I don't love you at all. I don't know you, so here goes: Your career site blows.

I talk with a lot of people from a lot of corporate recruiting organizations. And when it comes to discussing their career sites, conversations get cut short. "We know it sucks, we're really busy with other things. No time to focus on it."

"But you are sending all your potential candidates there and only converting 10% of your visitors to applicants," I say. "Really? Well, we can't focus on it right now. Maybe later," I often hear.

Honestly, most people I talk with know nothing of what happens on their career sites, even though it is the foundation of their entire recruiting effort.

Even the ones who have the means to measure it, at least on the surface, don't monitor their sites to understand the key online recruitment metrics and adjust their approach.

The recruiting function needs to pay attention to reality. The reality is that they have sunk a lot of money into career sites that at on one hand work beautifully and on the other hand sabotage their efforts to engage high value talent every day. 

It's so simple to fix, but they don't.

Why? Many reasons, none of them good:

"We did a brand overhaul already last year." Yes and it looks great. But you bolted it on top of a poorly designed navigation flow that buries your jobs, and an application process that kills any buzz built up by your employment branding work.

"We already have more candidates than we can handle." Yes, but your career site is designed so that only the most desperate will find and apply for a job. That's why you have such a hard time finding skilled, hard to fill positions.

"Our marketing department handles that." No they don't, obviously. I am a marketer and I can tell you that your marketing department spends nary a nanosecond of thought on your career site. Not unless you push them...hard.

"We know our application sucks but there's nothing we can do about it." Some ATS' are better than others, but you don't have to replace your ATS. There's always something you can do to improve what you have and most of the time, and your ATS provider usually has more bells and whistles than you know about or use.

"We didn't know that we lose 90% of our traffic." Well now you do.

Download this free white paper, "Five Keys to a Passive Candidate-Friendly Career Site." It tells you everything you need to know to whip your site into shape, why you need to do it. Take it to your recruiting leadership. Show it to your marketing department and web master and use it as the foundation of a blueprint to fix your flow and make your site a magnet for passive candidates.

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Comment by Christopher Poreda on October 20, 2011 at 10:23am

Great post Ian.  Unfortunately I don't think many will change and there is one reason for that; from a job advertising standpoint, most find more traction with job boards then they do from their own site. 


Of course it's far more efficient from a job seeker standpoint to use a good job board vs. going to individual company sites.  But I do agree that a company career site is an entry point and should be kept simple and relevant.  I think any site that requires a job seeker to log in or enter any personal information see a huge opt out rate. 

Comment by Ian Alexander on October 20, 2011 at 11:34am

Thanks Christopher. Good point. 

Part of the white paper deals with knowing what you're up against from an analytics standpoint (something that few truly track these days).  

For Survale clients, the conversion rate from traffic to applicant is three times higher for visitors that come directly to the career site vs. those from job boards.  To your point, for those that use job boards, the traffic volume is the highest %, but with a lower conversion rate.  I see a mix, with job bards being a big part of it. But social and Google and aggregators make up a huge part of that mix and that is growing.

At the end of the day, I believe that most of your passive candidates end up at your career site for direct engagement (referrals, competitors, social, etc), whether that is at the beginning or somewhere in the middle of the engagement process.  The cost of ignoring the career site's role in the process is much higher than the typical recruiting organization believes.

Comment by Ian Alexander on October 20, 2011 at 11:53am

Thanks John! Excellent landscaping metaphor.


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