• Kindergarten for career sites: Best practices to enhance the candidate experience

    Posted by Matt Adam on May 5th, 2016



    You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a First Web-pression.

    So, you’ve got lots of great candidates coming to your site. These are smart people you desperately want to hire. Let’s break down, in very simple terms, what a candidate wants when they visit your website. To make this easy to remember, let me take you back to a great teacher from your past…your kindergarten teacher. Kindergarten is when you learned your vowels. Everyone remember their vowels? A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y. Every word has got to have at least one of these and, in my opinion, every website has to have ALL of them. Let’s drill down on each.

    A: Authentic. Your site has got to be authentic and real. Here are a few guidelines to make sure your site delivers on this tenet. Cut the corporate mumbo jumbo. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see. Candidates don’t read sentences, let alone paragraphs and paragraphs of information on the web. They scan; they look for facts and figures and the information most useful to them. Focus on the differentiators. Include content that sets you apart, rather than information that sounds just like what everyone else is saying.

    E: Employment Brand. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen it. A company has an amazing employment brand and has spent gobs of money and resources to get this brand exactly how they want it at every touchpoint a candidate may come in contact with…except their website. The company’s website – which is hands-down the greatest employment branding vehicle – is inconsistent with its employment brand. It is a travesty, and it happens all the time. Don’t let it happen to you.

    E also stands for stands for engaging. Let me give you some examples that can make your site more engaging: Podcasts to communicate corporate vision and messages from leadership; Video to tell your story; Blogs to give candidates the scoop as to what goes on inside the company; and Virtual Experiences to show what its really like to work there. Most organizations are not yet incorporating virtual experiences, but it’s good to know what the leaders are doing.

    I: Intuitive. I think we can all relate to this. There is nothing worse than a confusing site where you can’t get to what you need quickly. A good site is not only visually stimulating, but also very intuitive. It’s not overwhelming, it’s simple to navigate and just plain appealing. Sites like this don’t happen by accident. It all starts with a blueprint called a site map. If I asked you to build a house, you wouldn’t just go ahead and start laying foundation. No, you need a blueprint that tells you how big the house is to be, how many bedrooms, the budget, etc. The same goes for websites.


    O: Options. Here are the options that most sites give candidates. You either apply or you leave without a trace. The websites of the future are all about options. For example, if a candidate is just dipping her toe into the water and doesn’t want to apply just yet, she can sign into a Talent Network. She selects her area of specialty and enters a few pieces of information. A quick two-minute process. For the candidate this is painless, and it allows them to receive information about relevant jobs in the future.

    U: User-Friendly. Culture, Diversity, College Recruitment, Benefits, About Us, Career Paths, Jobs. Candidates come to a career site expecting to get all this information and more. However, you have to balance meaningful and robust information with a user-friendly interface. Navigation is the key. Your navigation must be clearly marked and intuitive to the candidate. And always, always, at any page within the careers portion of your website, you must be no more than one click away from exploring jobs. Whatever moment you reach that candidate and get them motivated to apply, it’s got to be right there waiting for them.

    And finally Y. The rule was A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y. Right? Well, for a website the rule is A, E, I, O, U and ALWAYS Y. And not the letter ‘Y’ but the word “Why,” especially as it relates to the application process.

    Why are you putting me through this? As mobile apply becomes more prevalent, the laborious hour-long, invasive application process will become history. Get a jump on this by streamlining your application process now, gathering just what you need to make an initial candidate evaluation.

    Why are you asking for my Social Security Number?  I mean, I know why YOU ask, but if I’m a candidate, I’m wondering why you need this. Stats show that 98% of candidates drop right then and there.

    Why won’t you tell me what to expect?  We ask a lot from candidates, but often don’t give them the courtesy of letting them know the process that is ahead of them or, at worst, we never even respond to them and leave them hanging for eternity.

    To sum it all up: I want you to take your recruiter hat off and think from the perspective of the candidate. After all, this is what it’s all about, right? The experience candidates have on your site can make or break their impression of your organization. A mediocre experience can take you off their radar. A great experience will engage them and get them excited about your organization and your jobs.

    Check out some of the career sites that NAS has created and contact us to learn more.

    Matt Adam

    Matt Adam serves as Executive Vice President & Chief Talent Strategist for NAS. Having spent 20 years as a recruitment strategy consultant for a diverse client roster, Matt has worked with a wide variety of organizations to develop effective recruitment marketing strategies that define and shape an organization’s recruiting efforts in today's interactive marketplace. He is a featured speaker at various organizations including SHRM, CUPA and NAHCR.

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