10 Career Site Design Considerations (in a social media age)

A couple of weeks ago I went through my thoughts on what a newbs 10 considerations should be when thinking about having a stab at social media recruitment.  The response to that was very positive (in terms of tweets, retweets, mentions, traffic driven to my blog, comments etc). I wouldn’t say it went viral… More of a contained sniffle, but it went further and wider than any of my previous posts in terms of activity (e.g. comments), reach and engagement (thank you Google Analytics for my insights)… So in relative terms was extremely popular.


* Look.  Let me just enjoy my moment of delusion please.*


Although it wasn’t in any particular order the first objective I listed was to have the aim of driving traffic to a central hub. Something we often lovingly refer to as your careers site.  For me, getting this piece of the puzzle spot on when formulating an SMR strategy is absolutely critical. Why? Your career site needs to be the epicentre of any online recruitment strategy, whether it be social media recruitment or otherwise.  It’s the place to direct your audience where they can have the time and space you want them to have with no distractions from the competition.  With this in mind It’s essential to ensure your career site is deserving of the increased traffic your social media (and other online / offline) sign posts will be directing to it. 


So… What should we take into account when constructing or redesigning a career site? Over the last couple of years I’ve attended a few seminars that have touched on the subject.  I’ve submersed myself in the ocean of the social media recruitment network – reading what thought-leaders have to say on the topic as I swim through its waters.  Most recently I’ve been loosely involved in the redesign of my current employer’s career site (work in progress) and have heard what our design agents have had to say on the matter. Throughout this journey there are large neon signs I’m seeing flashing up in almost every direction I turn.


So without further ado.  Here are the messages I’ve been hearing when it comes to top line careers site considerations (again, in no particular order):


  • Your careers site has to be intrinsically linked to your employer brand.  Their messages, tones, feel etc must be entwined in perfect harmony.  Employer branding is a science in itself.  A science I am by no means an expert in but in its simplest form it must answer your prospective candidates’ killer question, “Why would I want to work for your company?”


In John Kotter’s Leading Change methodology (bear with me on this) he states, “A useful rule of thumb – if you can’t communicate the vision to someone in five minutes or less and get a reaction that signifies both understanding and interest, you’re not yet done with this phase of the transformation process.”  Although we’re not talking change management here the same principle could be applied with your career site, but with tighter timescales.  Keeping people on any website for 3 minutes is a mission let alone 5 minutes! And ideally, you need them to “get it” within that time. Can you convey your key employer brand messages in this relatively small window?


Yes, you’ll obviously have candidates that are already engaged with your brand who’ll invest significant time perusing through your pages but what about the ones who aren’t interested or are starting from a base of disengagement? I would argue these are the people you need to think about getting your messages across to in as quick-a-time as possible, in a way that is as engaging as possible.


  • It’s extremely important to research how your target audience will use your site and then meet those needs. It’s got to be about answering the question, “what do they want?” Not, “What do we want?” Earlier this year I sat through a great presentation by Liz Dougall, Head of Online Recruitment at Boots.  Without going into details the key message was clear for everyone sat in the auditorium. Your efforts need to be driven by your candidates’ needs not the company’s. This attitude must be front-and-centre when designing every page.  Ensure your careers site = targeted development based on research and candidate feedback.


  • Always start with SEO in mind.  Although SMR is growing and shows no signs of letting up let’s not forget a huge number of people out there still aren’t bought into the concept (yet!). Large numbers are still, and will continue job / career hunting through search engines. In 2010 32% of candidates started their job search via this medium.  They typically do this with 3 key terms – title, sector and location e.g. Finance Manager / Retail / London.  Where do your vacancies appear in the search engines?  If you’re not on the first page you may as well not be there at all.  Another bonus is that it doesn’t require any advertising spend, making it an extremely low cost candidate channel (once you’ve got over the initial cost of getting SEO’d that is).

As a side, a little experiment for you.  If you go to Google and search under the words “Search Engine” where do you think Google comes?  Go check it out.  I’ll wait here a sec but be sure to come back and read the rest of my post!….


……. (*tapping foot*)…..


……. Ah, there you are. Cool huh?  Anyway, not sure why I showed you that. It just amused me when I found out.  Let’s continue:


  • Mobile.  If I asked you to tell me what your career site looks like on mobile devise would you be able to tell me?  You should.  The rumblings in mobile are getting way too loud to ignore.  JobsiteUK are predicting a rise from c. 8.5% to 25% in mobile applications to their site in the year to March / April 2012.  Make your career site future-proof by ensuring its either mobile compatible or you have a mobile version of it.  People are using their smart phones to shop, bank, sort travel arrangements and much much more. The expectation to be able to search and apply to new jobs and careers is growing significantly also.


  • Stop posting boring adverts on your career site! If all you’re doing is copying and pasting job descriptions instead of appealing, exciting ads that are designed to attract and engage the very best candidates then…  Well, I won’t go on too much about this here as I’ve already shared my thoughts on the topic in a previous post.




  • Video content is an absolute must – the more the merrier.  Its interactive, engaging and the easiest way to get across complicated messages. It needn’t cost you an arm and a leg either.  Remember, with social media, corporate gloss and speak can be a  big turn-off.  Keep it real. A flip camera and imperfections may be a good thing.  It’s real.  It gives an air of, “this is us, warts ‘n’ all” – Professionalism is obviously a good thing but a lot of people in social media recruitment appreciate and expect transparency and honesty.


  • If there is a section of your career site aimed at / that will include a large volume of the younger end of the employment market it’s key to remember parents, guardians and friends can be gatekeepers to applications of the young. Your careers site needs to appeal to them as well when trying to attract younger employees.



  • With social media in mind – people love interactivity and the ability to share.  As a small example – many Gen Y / Millennials have also grown up with gaming.  Either casually on Facebook or their phones (Farmville or Angry Birds anyone?) or via other platforms such as Xbox, Nintendo and Play Station.  Can you incorporate a game on the career site where candidates share their prizes / awards via Facebook?  Their friends could see this and the knock-on effect might be an increase of traffic driven to, and application activity on your careers site.


  • How easy is your application process?  Does it include loads of unnecessary clicks and drop down menus that will disengage and lose your audience? as an exmaple, can you include functionality where key areas of the application form (address, name, email, contact numbers etc) are automatically populated by pulling in the data from a candidates CV?  There is software out there that enables this.  Hunt it out and get it incorporated.


  • Remember the rule Give! Give! Give! From my SMR post?  What advice, assistance can you offer prospective candidates. Can you give them a glimpse into what your interview process will look like and / or generic interview advice? Can you provide practice questions if there are any tests they will need to undergo? Can you include a section that provides updates on the industry you’re in? Do you have Managers, Directors or a CEO that tweets? (company specific tweets obviously.  Not the fact their eating their lunch or blowing their nose).  As on my blog, can you include a feed for these tweets that updates in realtime to really engage your audience and keep them in the loop with what’s going on at your company.  Is there anyone in your company that would be happy to blog about life in your organisation? Can you then add this to your site – again a superb way of engaging your audience and giving them a real feel of what it’s like to work in your environment.

The increase in engagement and awareness mentioned in the final point and throughout the post is critical.  There are many reasons why.  As I mentioned in my previous SMR post, a large part of it is all about reaching out and significantly increasing engagement with your target candidates.  An important knock-on effect of this increased egagement is that it’s been proven to have a positive impact on later areas of recruitment cycle, such as improved onboarding and retention of new incumbents.  It makes sense really when you think about it.


My aim with this list was to keep things very top line. There are 100’s of things to consider when pulling your career site together and i’m sure many books have been written on the subject.   In the final point I saw myself starting to get into more of the detail side of things so thought it a good place to stop.  What you’re willing and / or able to do will inevitably depend on the time you have and size of  the team and budget at your disposal.  If you’re lucky unlucky enough I may write another post in future continuing the topic.


I’ll leave you with some career sites I’ve been introduced to over the last few months that I happen to think are excellent. All in terms of a differing combination of content, engagement, interactivity and social media integration.  I hope you find some inspiration is some (if not all) of them. Enjoy

Hungry for more?  Check me out at www.trecknowledgy.com - training and coaching through recruitment complexities.  Follow on Twitter @TRecKnowledgy


Views: 2055

Comment by Dave Haygarth on May 17, 2011 at 11:39am
Brilliant post.  So neatly summed up.  It's amazing in this day and age that you (and I, and others) should be needing to tell people not to put boring content on their sites.  ... and they wonder why their conversion rates are low!
Comment by Ben on May 17, 2011 at 5:49pm

Hi Dave.  Thanks for your feedback - always appreciate the positivity. 

I'm not sure i'm telling anyone to do anything. More a case of sharing opinions of what people might like / want to do.  I'm sure i've missed loads of things but would be willing to hear from anyone with any more ideas.


Cheer ;o)


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