Career Site Best Practices: 5 Lessons from the World’s Biggest Brands

Career Site Best Practices: 5 Lessons from the World’s Biggest Brands

Emily Smykal

As candidate expectations and behaviors have changed, so too have corporate career sites. At least, that’s the hope. Job applicants expect higher levels of functionality and user experience, much like the experience they get as consumers. So if your career site isn’t keeping pace with candidate preferences, you risk missing out on qualified applicants.

Job seekers today are more likely to search for opportunities through their own means, and do so using a broader range of tools. But most ultimately end up on an employer’s career site. In fact, 64% of candidates in a Talent Board survey chose career sites as the most valuable job searching channel, and few employers would disagree.

Yet most company career websites are not offering the experience candidates anticipate. Your career site needs to be just as elegant and easy to use as the consumer websites your applicants have become accustomed to. If you think yours is not up to par, read on for the five principles and best practices that make up a successful career site.

*We’ve compiled this list of career site best practices by evaluating the strategies of our highest performing clients in the Fortune 500, and the impacts of their strategies on the tens of millions of job applications we’ve processed.

1. Put Candidates First and See Recruiting from Their Perspective

A consumer-quality website is pretty self explanatory–one that puts a high quality consumer experience first. The same idea needs to apply to your career site. You and your organization may already have opinions of how a career site should look or operate, but those ideas shouldn’t take priority over how an applicant experiences your site.

Consider asking a colleague to “apply” for a vacancy listed on your career site, with the intention of gathering feedback. How long does the process take? How easy was it to understand and complete? Did anything not work as described? Take a good look at every aspect of your career site from the perspective of a candidate.

2. Let Your Brand Shine and Always Tell Your Story

Your brand as an employer is just as important as your brand as a provider of goods or services. And one of the best ways to highlight and utilize your unique employer brand is through storytelling. Compelling stories about working for your organization are very engaging from the candidate’s perspective.

But for many recruiters, effective storytelling is easier said than done. If executed poorly it can come across as insincere, or risk contradicting your corporate brand. Plus many company career sites were not designed to feature this kind of content. The best way to get started is to review how your career site can take applicants on a journey, and try to integrate social media as part of the process.

3. Make It Easy for Job Seekers to Find Your Site and Your Jobs

This may sound like an obvious point, but it turns out many career sites are difficult to find. Without strong SEO and a prominently placed search bar on your career site, many candidates will spend extra time trying to find your open positions. And from the candidate perspective, every minute they waste searching is time they could have spent working on the actual application. Or worse, applying to a different employer.

4. Leverage the Web to Lower Costs and Expand Reach

Your career site is important, but it’s not the only tool you and your applicants will be using. Your talent acquisition strategy should also include social media, content and employer branding on external sites, analytics–the list goes on. So it’s important to optimize each technique, and make sure they’re efficiently routing candidates back to your career site.

Take the time to learn which channels your preferred candidates use the most. If the applicants you target spend a lot of time on social media, but your social efforts are lacking, you’re missing a huge opportunity to connect with them. Often recruiters will find that optimizing each inbound channel will reduce talent acquisition costs over time and greatly expand their talent pool.

5. Treat Your Career Site As Your Most Important Recruiting Asset

We know most candidates rely on career sites to apply for jobs. And most employers have career sites to manage their open positions. So it’s safe to consider your career website as the most important aspect of your recruiting strategy. That means treating it as such, not taking it for granted because it’s simply up and running.

A CareerBuilder survey last year found that 80% of candidates use career sites at some point during their job search. In addition, 76% said they would compromise on salary in exchange for a good experience during the application process. So a well-designed career site might even help you negotiate more manageable salaries. Regardless of the benefit you expect from your career site, the importance it has to your candidates should be enough to merit investing time and resources in it.

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