4 Tips for Improving Your Career Site UX (from a UX Designer)
Job seekers now have instant access to a broad, global scope of potential employers via modern technology, meaning no company is exempt from restless employees eager for a better opportunity. This creates massive opportunity for businesses with a great career site candidate experience to lure talented applicants away from their sub-optimal jobs. It also means that a poor candidate experience, which is far more common than not, leaves a business vulnerable.
In a 2014 recruitment survey by Jibe, vast majorities of job seekers described their online application process as time-consuming, stressful, discouraging, and even painful. And that’s when they’ve even gotten that far. Almost a quarter of job seekers suggested that they would rather “go skydiving without training” than interact with a company’s career site.
A career site is likely the first online contact point that a candidate has with a business, and in many cases, it is the last.
Advances in technology have led to a generally higher quality of user experience (UX) for most sites and apps. As such, the user/applicant has a base expectation of a flawless experience on a company’s career site. Anything less than this makes it unlikely that a candidate will be able to find the right job to apply to, let alone have the patience to complete a 30-minute online application.
As someone who has worked on consumer-facing UX, I’ve seen how it can make the difference between accomplishing goals and missing the mark in the digital world. A business can make substantial improvements to their career site by utilizing a few simple, effective UX strategies.
1. Make It Mobile: A Mobile-Optimized Career Site Is a Must Have
You don’t really need to hear statistics to know that most people are using their smartphones for just about everything. It’s almost foolish to suggest that something should “work well on mobile.” This is absolutely a given for any measurable amount of success in a digitized, modern world.
To really hit the target on hiring goals, your career site should be not just “mobile-friendly,” but optimized for mobile. To ensure that the mobile experience is frictionless and succinct, cut the clutter and provide clear paths for candidates to do what you want them to do most—apply to a job, or opt into a marketing relationship, so you can nurture them down the road with employer branding content and relevant jobs.
Additionally, Google is now actively penalizing sites in search performance that haven’t yet optimized for mobile, meaning all of this becomes that much more important. But no matter how you frame it, improving a career site’s mobile UX will lead to better recruitment results.
2. Make It Real: Don’t Deliver a Manufactured UX
Today’s users—a.k.a. applicants—are tech-savvy. They use awesome technology every day, and they’re accustomed to exceptional UX. It’s only logical then, that they would be extremely discouraged by an inferior candidate experience on your career site.
Content expectations are a part of this. Savvy users are not fooled by “ canned” content. This is the same “cookie-cutter” text and stock imagery that fills up otherwise unused white space in an attempt for a career site to appear more “substantial.” Even in the event that a business has devoted resources to grooming meaningful content for the site, it still remains to be seen if that content is truly useful to the candidate (as opposed to simply promoting the brand).
To create meaningful content you have to know the “persona qualities” of the candidates that will interact with your career site. This will enable you to link your content to their needs.
Content that is valuable to users will also increase engagement, leading to more applications, as well as helping with SEO. You also don’t need to fill every ounce of white space, as a modern, well-designed site should have “breathing room” on the page to promote better engagement. Even if the candidate does not apply, your optimized content will have left a favorable impression on them, maybe even to the degree that they share this feeling on social media, and so you will have still achieved an incredibly useful result either way.
3. Make It Personal: Forget Anonymity in Candidate Experience
You may have optimized your career site to look amazing on mobile, and tweaked your content to be engaging and relevant, but you can’t stop there. Always be prepared to consider the future and go to the next level. As such, the third key to creating an amazing candidate experience is to “make it personal.” The key is mining previous interactions. As software is better able to detect qualities about the user based on these interactions, and tailor a more personalized experience, users will start to expect this and interactions that are devoid of it will seem dated.
A great example of this in the consumer world is Netflix, which recommends content based on everything that the user has previously watched. Amazon is also very good about recommending products and content that the user would like based on past purchases. As this “predictive” technology improves over time, it will create a clearer picture of the user’s needs and surface alternatives with even higher relevance.
Increased personalization in recruiting in the coming years will help to drive better conversion rates, and assist in crafting the ideal message to catch that perfect, passive candidate—what has been dubbed the “Purple Squirrel.”
If a candidate is returning to your site, it’s appropriate to engage with them based on this repeat interest level and serve them more relevant content and job listings. Using whatever information is available allows a business to serve more relevant, personalized content and job listings, and thus create a truly unique, value-added experience for the job seeker. Our engineering team shared a great example of how this will work in the near future at the HRTech hackathon.
4. Make It Easy: The End Goal Is Candidate Conversions
If you follow these recommendations and make the necessary improvements to your career site, it will likely lead to a good problem—having too many qualified applicants. This is absolutely what you want and all efforts should be made to make it easy for candidates to engage and convert by either completing a job application or joining a candidate network.
A candidate network is a win for all involved as candidates get a sense of satisfaction in knowing that their info will be kept on file for consideration in the future, and the business can add another name to their network to nurture for an open position down the road. This will save the business time and money with a quicker rate-to-hire than if the recruiter was starting fresh. It will also assist in allowing the career site to serve a more personalized experience to a candidate that has voluntarily provided personal information about themselves.
The easier it is for candidates to cut through the clutter of poor, uncurated content and generally bad UX, the more likely they are to apply to jobs or join the talent network. Candidate conversions should be your goal above all else when you seek to improve the UX of your career site—and as shown in these steps, general UX strategies will be the same for everyone, but the execution may vary.
Candidates are consumers, and providing them with a consumer-quality experience will go a long way when few others are. Read our new eBook, “The Talent Acquisition Leader’s Guide to the New Candidate Journey” to learn more about this topic and what to do about it.