Why A Good Career Site Is Important and What Makes One Great

If your career site is tacked on to your company website as an afterthought, or if it looks like you designed it in 2000 and never revisited it, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to sell your company to potential candidates. The Talent Board’s 2015 Candidate Experience Research found that 64% of candidates consider career sites the most valuable resource when researching new opportunities. Further, according to Bersin by Deloitte’s 2015 Talent Acquisition Factbook, company career sites drive more hires than any other source.

Career Site OptimizationHow your career site presents your company to candidates matters. It can mean the difference between sparking the interest of a potential future great hire or being written off. “Your business website is the face of your company” says Roberta Chinsky Matuson, President of Human Resource Solutions. “Now is the time to refresh your look to maximize the efforts you are putting into your recruitment process.”

Your career site should be designed to have a lot of impact in a short amount of time. "Our research shows that the average candidate will spend less than 60 seconds on a career site before deciding if they want to pursue a job with that company, so it’s important that a career site be strategic and impactful," says Jason Berkowitz, vice president of client services at Seven Step RPO. To engage potential candidates quickly, make sure your career site is great.

What Makes a Career Site Great

1. It’s SEO-friendly.

Your career site should be littered with keywords. Make sure that you don’t go overboard and that the keyword use feels organic, but remember that a potential candidate must first find your career site before s/he can be wowed by it.

Nick Leigh-Morgan, CEO and founder of iKrut, also recommends taking advantage of your open jobs list to give your site a SEO boost. Each open job in the list should be linked to a separate page, where the job title is included in the URL. This makes it easy for search engines to index that job posting.

Similarly, stick to transparent job titles. It’s fun to assign creative titles, like Queen of Smiles or Head Happiness Agent, but search engines won’t know that you’re referring to a human resources manager position. Don’t sacrifice SEO, and therewith the likelihood of being found, for an opportunity to show off a fun company culture. Don’t worry, there are other, better ways to show off your company’s culture (starting with #3.)

2. It’s mobile-optimized.

Mobile Career SitesOne of the main things to consider is that almost everyone has a smartphone nowadays” says David Goldin, CEO of Capify. “Is your site mobile-friendly? If not, you've already lost a lot of candidates." He’s right.

According to research by iCIMS, 70% of people have used their smartphone to search for jobs and 65% of job searchers using mobile devices will leave a company’s site if it isn’t mobile-optimized. Of those 65% who leave, 40% view companies more negatively when their career sites aren’t mobile optimized. Don’t put off great candidates - mobile optimize your career page.

If you need another reason to get with the times, Google punishes websites that aren’t mobile-optimized. On April 21, 2015 Google changed its algorithm so that mobile-friendly sites rank higher in the results of mobile searches. With 70% of people doing at least part of their job search online, you want your site to be findable.

For an example of great mobile career site, check out Marriott International. Marriott International’s career site is streamlined so that it’s small screen-friendly, but still shares the information that candidates need to know.

3. It uses high quality, original photos.

Photos humanize your brand by showing candidates a bit of your company and some of the people who may be their future colleagues. Of course, this only works if the photos are actually of your company’s current employees "We always recommend our clients use photographs of real employees on their career site instead of using stock photography” says Berkowitz. “It's easy for a candidate to tell one from the other and real employees are much more authentic than stock photos.”

Hire a professional photography to come to your office and take photos of your employees at work. In addition to happy, engaged employees, the photos should ideally show a bit of your office space and your employees’ work spaces. Photos from team outings, lunches, and volunteer days help paint a more complete picture of your company.

4. It uses high quality, engaging videos.

Ideally, your career site should feature a few high quality videos, as well. You can feature employees working, employees enjoying company outings together, or employees talking about their jobs and why they love working at your company. Videos are the best low-contact way to give potential candidates an inside look at your company and a feel for your company culture.

Keep videos short, engaging, and true to your company. For examples of great career site videos, check out Apple and Lyft.

5. It sells your company.

Recruiting is like dating. If you want to be successful, you must remember that you’re being screened for fit just as much you are screening the candidate for fit. Don’t make them guess why they might want to work for you. Tell them!

Deloitte’s career site is a great example. The site includes the top 10 reasons to join the firm, listing detailed benefits, work/life balance, perks, and opportunities for advancement.

6. It doesn’t confuse perks with benefits.

You should absolutely list your company’s perks, whether that’s free meals on the job or customizable work stations. But don’t forget that perks and benefits are not the same thing and that candidates, who are trying to form a complete picture of working for your company, will want to know both.

"By all means, emphasize your perks -- if you have free food, foosball tables, flexible work arrangements, casual dress -- but make sure that's not the only thing you say about your culture and your purpose” says Sarah Nahm, CEO of Lever. “If you value a flat organization, if you believe in letting employees set their own hours or book their own travel and expenses, that says a lot about trust and independence." Don’t just tell potential candidates what you will give them, tell them how you will treat them.

7. It sells the job.

Job descriptions are very important. Instead of creating a long, largely copy-and-pasted description that’s cold and reads like a laundry list of requirements, tell potential candidates why it’s a great job. "You should emphasize the opportunity for the job seeker, and how they can grow, rather than just ‘have a job’” says Nahm. “You end up with candidates whose strengths and accomplishments are a better fit for your firm.”

8. It’s easy to navigate.

Career SitesA link to your career site should be clearly visible on your corporate frontpage. Once you get to your career site, the list of job openings should be equally easy to find. "If you bury your job listings three or four clicks deep into your site, you are going to lose a lot of people” says Berkowitz. “We always advise clients to have the job listings either present on the main career page or, at most, one click away from the main career landing page.”

Your career site should also make it easy for a potential candidate to take action, once s/he finds an appropriate job opening. “Your site should make it extremely easy to inquire about jobs, easily search and find the individual to contact and submit such requests digitally,” advises Chad Barr, president of CB Software Systems. Make sure, also, that your career site is uncluttered and easy to navigate overall, so that potential candidates can explore the site and easily return to relevant content.

9. It has a FAQs section.

Leigh-Morgan recommends a frequently asked questions section packed with helpful information. Helpful topics include how to apply, how to sign up for email updates about new jobs, how to update existing candidate profiles, what to do if you forget the password for your candidate profile, when candidates can expect to hear back after submitting an application, and so on.

10. It outlines the process.

Application ProcessTransparency is appealing in all professional interactions, including applications. Letting candidates know what they can expect after submitting their application makes the process less mysterious and less intimidating. Include how many rounds of interviews there will be, whether/which interviews will be by phone or video or in-person, whether there will be tests, and ideally a general sense of timeline.

Check out AirCanada Rouge for a great example of a step-by-step breakdown of the application process.

11. It’s manned by an attentive HR person.

“I’d be remiss not to mention that your reply responsiveness makes a huge impact on the way you’re being perceived by job seekers.” advises Barr. If a candidate applies for a job on your career site, especially if s/he spends a lot of time drafting a compelling cover letter or filling out a lengthy application form, and then doesn’t hear from you for weeks, if at all, it’s unlikely that s/he will feel encouraged apply for another opening at your company. Even years later, when more career experience and development might make that candidate the ideal fit for an open position, s/he might remember the negative experience and decide to pass.

Make sure that all applications and candidate emails receive responses in a timely manner.

BONUS: It has a job matching tool or quiz.

While including a job matching tool or quiz is not necessary for having a good career site, it’s a great way to engage candidates and direct them to consider positions that might be a good fit. Amtrak’s career site has systems that match candidates, based on profiles that they create, with suitable open jobs at the company, so that they see the jobs that are the best fit. It saves candidates time searching and it can save you time reading through applications for poorly matched positions.

A bland or confusing career site is a devastating lost opportunity.  Robin Erickson, vice president of Talent Acquisition Research at Bersin by Deloitte, calls employment branding and ease of website navigation “critical.” Whether or not you decide to have a fun bonus, like a job matching tool, it is increasingly important in today’s digitally connected world that your career site makes a great impression.

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Danai Kadzere

Danai Kadzere

Danai is a Content Marketer at Happie. Before Happie, she worked as a freelance writer, ghostwriter, and children's book author, after graduating from Harvard University with a BS in Human Evolutionary Biology. If she's not working, she's probably reading, baking, or getting lost.