5 Common Career Site Mistakes Companies Make

Did you know your career site is considered the most valuable resource candidates use when researching employers and job opportunities? After surveying more than 130,000 candidates from over 200 companies, the Talent Board found that candidates prefer to go directly to the source to learn more about a company and a job before checking third-party sites like Glassdoor.

What does this mean? Your career site really matters. And having a career site with job postings is simply not enough. Today’s candidates expect companies to share relevant information and content related to your company culture, values and employees.

I was very lucky to be invited to share my thoughts on the art and science of career sites in a webinar last week, along with Kathryn Minshew, CEO of The Muse, and Tracey Parsons, Director of Recruitment Marketing at SmashFly. Check out some of the most common career site mistakes we talked about, as well as our top tips on how you can create a career site masterpiece.

Mistake #1: Trying To Be Everything To Everyone
One of the most common mistakes we’ve all seen many companies make with their career sites is trying to be everything to everyone. Many employers try so hard to not leave a single person out. But in doing so, it can actually create inefficiencies in your hiring process because you’re attracting a very large and broad amount of candidates – many that may not actually be qualified for the roles you’re hiring for.

Get as specific as you can about who you are, your company culture and the types of people who will be successful there. Candidates will self-select based on the content you share. And by giving them an opportunity to screen themselves in or out, this ultimately lowers the amount of unqualified candidates coming in and increases the quality of candidates that do apply to your company.

Your career site is the place that will help candidates understand if your company is right for them and if they are right for you. Help them make that decision on your career site with specific, relevant and accurate content that educate and sell your company to the right candidates.

Mistake #2: Confusing Culture With Perks
Ping pong and foosball tables. Free snacks and drinks. Nap rooms. Yes, company perks are great and incredibly important, but they shouldn’t be the only reason why candidates should or want to work for you. Your career site needs to go beyond promoting the perks you offer to truly stand out from your competition and capture the attention of your target candidates.

When visiting your career site, candidates are looking to understand why they would want to work at your company – they are interested in seeing how people interact, the sort of challenges they get to work on, and how decisions are made at your company, just to name a few.

I’ve seen a lot of career sites where companies talk about the “what” – what their companies do and what it’s like to work there. But very few employers talk about the “why” – why do people work there? Why are they excited to go to work? What is the mission or problem your company is solving for the world? Why is that important?

Talk about the kind of meaningful work and impact candidates will get to make at your company and on the world. If you’re able to represent that on your career site, including the unique offerings, experiences and opportunities your company offers, you’ll start to win and attract the right people to your brand.

Mistake #3: Telling, Instead Of Showing
Another big missed opportunity we see with many career sites is a lack of real, authentic photos and videos. Don't just say what makes your company a great place to work--show it! Your employees are what makes your company "you," and they are ultimately the biggest differentiator to help you stand out and attract the best talent.

Make your employees the “face” and advocate of your brand, and get them involved in telling and sharing your culture, values and their experiences at your company, through both written and visual content, to show what a candidate’s life may look like if they were working there.

People believe in people more than they trust brands. Brand messages reach 561% further when they are shared by employees compared to official brand channels. And research has shown that people find a person like themselves or employees much more credible than the CEO or other sources, such as advertising and traditional media. So get your employees to help build and promote your employer brand content for your career site and other recruiting channels.

Mistake #4: Not Measuring Your Results
How do you know how well your career site is performing if you can’t measure it? When talking about measurement, I always love to share this quote from John Wanamaker, who is considered to be the pioneer of marketing: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.”

Measurement is key when it comes to the success of your career site. It helps you see what is working and isn’t, and how you can improve if something isn’t working. So if you aren’t currently tracking or measuring any metrics, where do you start? How do you know which KPIs are relevant to your career site efforts?

Here are three questions you can use to help guide you when setting your KPIs:

Question #1: Is it objective?
Real measurements will tell you how your career site is really performing, not how you think it is performing. With objective metrics, you will know what content is resonating, what people are looking at, and what drives desirable actions. This can help with the ongoing design, content creation and improvement of your career site.

Question #2: Does it support your business challenges?
Great KPIs are tied to your company’s business challenges. For example, if your company has high employee turnover, cost per hire is probably not as important as cost per quality hire. That’s because you want to hire quality talent to come work for your organization and stay. So when setting your KPIs, start with the business challenges your company is trying to solve.

Question #3: Is it actionable and trendable?
Effective KPIs will not only tell you whether your career site content is working or not, but also how it is performing over time, whether candidates are taking the actions you want them to take, and what you can do to improve your performance.

For example, are your employee profiles and videos driving people to apply? If so, which spotlights or videos are people looking at? Another example would be going into your HRIS system and looking at trends that tell you which sources are providing the best talent and ROI, and the interactions they have with your career site. With these data-driven insights, you can adjust your strategy accordingly to improve your recruiting results.

Mistake #5: Not Optimizing Your Career Site
Your career site is ultimately transactional like Amazon or any other e-commerce sites. Candidates come to your career site to make a transaction, either in the form of applying for a role or to subscribe to your talent community or network.

So if your career site is like an e-commerce site, you need to think like an e-commerce site. How do you transact? With conversion. You want to look at how many visitors have converted into leads for your company, so you can start building your talent pipeline for future roles. You’ll also want to look at your applicant rate and see how many leads have converted into applicants.

Tracking these data will help you identify areas to work on to improve your conversion rate. For example, take a look at your job descriptions. Do they still read like long, templated job postings? If so, it’s time to revamp them. In today’s competitive market for hiring top talent, the candidate is king.

Your job descriptions need to read like a love letter to your target candidates. Talk about the impact they get to make in the role and what they’ll get to accomplish at your company. You’ll still want to talk about what you’re looking for in an ideal candidate, but you need to relate that back to the skills and experiences they have. It’s all about the candidates and what’s in it for them.

Providing simple call-to-action at the end of every page or piece of content on your career site also improves your conversion rate. Make it clear what you want candidates to do and make it easy for them to take action on.

Another way to optimize conversion is encouraging top talent to join your talent community or network, so you’re able to pull those qualified candidates into the organization quickly when you need to. Make your sign-up form quick and easy to fill out, and have it in a place that’s visible and consistent across your entire career site so it’s not hard to find or completely buried in your site.

A great career site does not happen overnight. You need to continually track, measure, iterate and improve, to drive better talent attraction and engagement. By taking some of the tips and best practices we’ve shared here, you’re on your way to building an exceptional career site that will deliver dynamic content, boost your employer brand, and ultimately help your company attract, convert and hire the best candidates out there.

Do you need help with auditing and optimizing your career site and other employer brand channels? Contact me here and let’s chat about how we can help improve your recruiting strategy.

Will Staney

Will is the Founder and Principal Consultant at Proactive Talent Strategies, LLC and the former Head of Global Talent Acquisition at rapidly-growing startups Twilio andGlassdoor. Prior to that he held recruiting leadership roles at enterprise software leaders VMwareSuccessFactors and SAPwhere he lead strategic programs includingemployer brandingsourcing strategy, recruiting operations and systems process design.

During his over 7 years as a recruiting practitioner, after 10 years in sales and marketing, he developed a passion for building what he calls "modern recruiting machines". He would push innovation from the inside, execute on his vision, and once it was realized he would pass the torch on to those he had mentored and move on to his next challenge. He was destined to start a consultancy so he could help as many companies as possible adopt a more proactive recruiting strategy with community in mind.

In his free time, Will enjoys riding his motorcycle, trying out the newest gadgets, and spending time with his two kids, Foster and Felicity.