Recruit Like a Web Retailer

Online recruiting is in many respects a kind of online selling. Not only does a recruiter have to sell the company and the position, but he or she also has to entice the prospect to give up personal information and process it quickly, before the candidate is lost to the competition. So online recruiting can take lessons from companies who have mastered the art of online selling: web retailers. Successful web retailers do their utmost to ensure that everything about their site facilitates an easy purchase. Product search is easy, and product information is appropriately detailed for the online consumer. Once the desired product is identified, the impulse to buy is satisfied immediately. Shopping carts and e-wallets remove further barriers to online purchases and encourage repeat business. Web retailers know that their competition is only a click away. Selling Jobs Careers sections on corporate web sites should imitate the successful web retailer’s strategy. It should be easy to search for an available job; and once identified, it should be an easy “buy.” Agents, profiling, permission marketing, and other tactics of web retail are equally applicable to corporate web site Careers sections. Your company’s use of the technology will make an important impression on your job seeking “buyers.” As in retail, the job seeker “purchasing” experience must be smooth from start to finish. Too often, corporate Careers sections execute well only up to a point. The Job Seeker Experience Here’s an example. A website does an excellent job of branding the company and its products. Site design is clear; colors and layout are pleasing to the eye. Everything about the site reinforces the company’s key value statements that it stands for quality, integrity, and innovation. The site’s Careers section does an admirable job of selling the company’s values in the workplace; it appeals to a young, smart audience, with bolder graphics and layout. The copy emphasizes the company’s commitment to teamwork, learning, technology, etc. It gives information on the company’s background, history, vision, and of course, benefits. So far, this company’s Careers section is doing everything right. A job seeker can search for a position by job function, location, or keyword. Clear and concise search results, returned quickly, present everything the job seeker needs for a first glance assessment of interest: the job position and its location. Clicking on a particular job leads to a well-written job description, outlining the duties and requirements. Everything to this point is extremely well done and carefully thought out. And yet at this point the job seeker is left completely stranded! There is no link to email a resume or to go to a resume builder. There is a hard-to-find page of instructions on how to apply, one that is three clicks away from the point where a job seeker has found that ideal job. The job seeker?carefully cultivated to this point?will most likely leave in frustration, and “shop” elsewhere. Web retailers always make sure that the opportunity to buy is one click away, otherwise they lose business. Careers sections should be no different. Volume and Vision Could it be that the company in this example was quite deliberate in making it inconvenient for job “shoppers” to apply online? The company could be highly successful at recruiting, and have no problems attracting high quality candidates. Adding extra hurdles in an online job application process is not unheard of. (In Japan, where unemployment is high, companies go out of their way to make sure that only the persistent make it through to the end of online resume builders.) But, as a tactic for coping with a high volume of job applicants, a Careers section that creates resistance to the quick “buy” does not take a very strategic approach. For sure, it doesn’t build up a significant talent pool to draw upon when the company is in a period of expansion. A poorly designed Careers section?whether unintentional or planned?also jeopardizes the reputation and standing of the company and its image. Recruiting With Retail Strategy A better strategy is to accept the volume through a Careers section that provides the best “customer” (i.e. job seeker) experience, and utilize the proper tools for selecting for quality. For a state-of-the-art hiring management system (HMS), increased job applicant volume is a virtue, not a burden, since the pre-screening function of the best HMS’s takes care of the quantity of applicants and the quality of the shortlist simultaneously. Web retailers have learned through several years of tight competition that you have to be smart on the front-end, with a web storefront that is designed to make the “buy” friction-free. They also know you have to be ready on the back-end as well, with integrated systems to handle and process the demand quickly and efficiently. Online recruiting is in a position that web retail was two years ago. Jobs are the next online commodity; it remains to be seen who understands this well?and who will be the Amazon.com of online recruiting.

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Alice Snell is vice president of Taleo Research. The specialty research practice analyzes the best practices and economics of talent management. Taleo Research focuses on critical issues and key trends in talent management that impact organizational performance. Taleo Research is the strategic research division of Taleo, which provides on demand talent management solutions for organizations of all sizes, worldwide.

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