I’m in the process of preparing a product requirement document for a state-of-the-art career website, and I need your help. While cash is somewhat limited, creativity isn’t. The client has even suggested that the product spec by shared with every other company in the world as long as they help input some ideas into the design process.
As part of this joint development effort, I’ve created a public ning.com network called “Sourcing Strategy” to capture this information. If you want to participate, just join the network, provide some creative ideas, and watch the most advanced and innovative career website get created from scratch.
One goal is to push the use of every type of available technology as far as possible. Here are the other ideas for creating this career website:
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- Meet the needs of the target audience. Our client has openings for every type of job, from entry-level to senior executive, across all functions and disciplines. It has to appeal to kids and boomers looking for part-time and full-time gigs, and to Xs and Ys who want to do something special. Most important, the client wants the people visiting the site to feel like customers. This way, people who aren’t even considering a career move might visit the site and decide to stay connected in some way. To pull this off, the user experience must be simple, friendly, and engaging.
- Real-time customization. One group has suggested a landing page with a bunch of job titles and career topics floating around in modernistic space with a search-like aperture somewhere in the middle. The only instructions on the page are “What do you want to do?” As the candidate inputs job titles, location, industry, and similar information, the site is customized for the candidate’s unique requirements. So if the candidate is a salesperson from Peoria, a bond trader from New York, an insurance company executive in Phoenix, or a software developer in Portland, a unique page will be generated in real time describing available opportunities. Combined with these open jobs, other segments of the page will appear, describing the company culture, unique benefits associated with the types of jobs presented, career path opportunities, and other personally important elements.
- Search engine optimization talent hubs. If we can’t afford the real-time talent hub as described above, we’ll create micro sites for each category of jobs. These sites will describe the benefit of all jobs in the class (i.e., sales, engineering, customer service). From these landing pages, candidates can evaluate all related jobs in their area of expertise before applying. Of course, boring job descriptions will never be posted. Every single job will clearly describe the type of work involved, the challenges, the potential impact, and the basic requirements. We’re now evaluating the idea of not posting any specific jobs at all. The idea here is that we want to attract the biggest pool of potential candidates by class. When actual jobs become available, these pre-candidates will be invited to evaluate them. To drive people to the talent hubs, we’ll use SEO techniques like those offered by Jobs2Web.com so these sites can be found by people Googling for jobs. We’ll also use pay-per-click and Google Base to get instant hits. (Try Googling “retail jobs” for some examples.)
- Workforce planning with just-in-time fill. The client is now building a comprehensive rolling workforce plan of all its hiring needs for the next four quarters by class of jobs. This dovetails nicely with the talent hub concept of building a pool of talented people. As managers have openings to fill, they can review potential candidate resumes and maybe even talk with a few on an exploratory basis. This type of process would allow a manager to design a job around a candidate rather than find candidates to meet specific criteria. This is a fundamental rethinking of how jobs are filled today.
- Provide the opportunity to explore and consider. Top people need a chance to “just look” and also chat with a real person. This site will provide instant online chat and a “let’s talk” button. The candidate will need to provide some minimal information to engage with a recruiter or hiring manager. Of course, some of the “live” chat will be with a virtual recruiter based on currently available artificial intelligence technology.
- Use private virtual communities. Visit Second Life or ActiveWorlds to find out about virtual communities. Here you can create your own avatar (hyperspace identity) and talk in real time with other visitors. Our website will be filled with a variety of these communities. Some will be virtual career fairs where candidates will be able to find out anything about your company at different booths and kiosks. These will be manned by live and simulated recruiters and managers. Other communities will offer visitors chances to exchange ideas with employees and even be interviewed by managers.
- Take maximum advantage of user-generated content. User-generated content can help get users personally involved. The client wants the site to be much more than just a place to find jobs. As part of this, we’ll offer career advice, provide job-related learning information, and allow people to add their own comments. To pull this off, we’ll use employee blogs, informational podcast, wikis, and video testimonials.
- Push proactive employee referral programs. Our client company is pushing its current employee base to identify all of the best people in the industry and offering hefty referrals. Employees and managers are being urged to proactively seek out other potential referrals using their LinkedIn, Ning, MySpace, Facebook, alumni, and society networks.
- Advanced lead management with customer relationship management capability. The client’s private database of resumes and leads needs to be constantly nurtured and maintained using consumer marketing concepts. Some companies are now successfully using salesforce.com’s candidate management system. From what I hear, AIRS’ SourcePoint is a great tool to combine passive candidate name generation with this CRM capability, so we need to check this.
- Develop respectful, instant application processing. We’ll be developing our site to collect a little information about the pre-candidate everywhere the person visits. Quizzes and knock-out questions will be fun, compelling, and respectful. When the candidate ultimately applies, she’ll be able to automatically upload a bio or resume, which will be instantly parsed into an easily edited graphical application.
- Implement targeted behavioral advertising to attract passives. We want to place compelling career ads exactly where our targeted audience is searching for information directly or indirectly related to jobs or careers. For example, if someone is searching for salary information for financial analysts, our ad will be on the page with the information. If a salesperson is seeking information on how to use SPIN selling in combination with needs analysis, an invitation to join our virtual sales community will be right there.
- Add gadgets and feeds. We have a couple of gadgets that people will want to put on their desktops. These will drive company, technical, and career information to our pre-candidates using RSS feeds. If you don’t know about gadgets, here’s a site manned by a developer from Microsoft who can tell you all about them.
- Use creative marketing campaigns to drive traffic. We’re going to outdo Google’s software code billboard and Pizza Hut’s VP of Pizza campaign. One initially scorned idea was to write our ads for entry-level call-center positions like this “YT? Job 2G2BT” However, it worked.
- Implement cultural branding. While our company is big enough to offer great opportunities, it’s not on any of the major lists, so we need to create a buzz about our culture. Pushing the envelope on using technology is helping. Adding a section where candidates can compare their career options among competing opportunities across multiple factors will really help differentiate us from everyone else, even those on the most admired and favorite places to work. This is really important. We can’t afford to lose top people when our company is just as progressive, but maybe not as visible.
- Take advantage of the current networking sites. We’ve already created a bunch of great YouTube video ads and a MySpace page, which are starting to drive traffic to our site. We’re monitoring all of this to take advantage of the latest technology and trends to ensure we’re always on the leading edge. Wait until you see what we’ll be offering the boomers to keep them in our workforce.
We’ve made great progress in defining a career website and sourcing process using some of the tools available today, almost off-the-shelf. Equally important, we need to build an attitude and architecture that is flexible and lets us change direction very quickly.
Part of this is that our client has a dedicated team of with-it designers who are excited about pushing the envelope. Leading them is a consumer marketing pro who knows little about recruiting, but she’s a whiz at getting people to think outside of the HR, admin, legal box.
Join us if you want to help build the most advanced and innovative career site in the world.