The other day I was asked, “What is the single worst thing about most corporate career sites?” I laughed, and then hesitated ó because there are so many things wrong with most corporate sites. But after moment I gathered my thoughts and answered directly: They fail to immediately capture the potential candidate’s email address. Why is that a problem? Well, because most corporate job sites have extremely high drop-off rates. Some people stay for a matter of seconds, and a majority drop within two minutes. The problem is compounded by the fact that once they drop from the site, it’s impossible to contact them to find out why they dropped or to further pursue the relationship. You can’t improve your website drop-off rate if you don’t know why people prematurely leave. Capturing potential candidates’ email addresses in the first few seconds provides you with a range of options for contacting them again later. As a result, it should be your first priority. How Marketing Would Approach a Corporate Job Site Because HR people design many corporate job sites, their primary goal is to capture resumes. Most active candidates will go through almost anything to deposit their resumes. As a result, HR sees little need to make their sites more user responsive. They are designed from an administrative perspective. The fundamental problem is that the people who you really want to hire are not those active candidates. The people you really should focus on are those who are currently employed and who may only be casually interested in pursuing a job at this time. These are the ones who drop off rapidly when they become frustrated or disinterested. Their attention span is short. When frustrated, they immediately move on without leaving their contact information. Why not take a marketing approach to your website? Few HR people approach designing their sites from a marketing perspective. On most current job sites, even providing a resume requires multiple steps and often as much as 15 minutes of the candidate’s limited time. When you ask marketing people to assess corporate job sites, they usually laugh out loud, and eventually they suggest a totally different approach to designing job sites. The four steps that the marketing approach calls for include: 1. Provide things of immediate interest. The first thing marketing people recommend you do on a website is to build a quick interest by providing (within the first 30 seconds) something of obvious value, with the goal of making the visitor want to stay. Action to take: In HR, that means you must instantly provide people that hit your site with something of value. You want them to have “sticky eyes.” Things to consider to hold their immediate attention include citing “wow” people programs, citing the large number of current openings, mentioning the speed that hiring decisions are made, or showing that your firm appears on “best place to work” lists 2. Capture their email address. Marketing experts recommend that you immediately try to take advantage of that the interest you generated in Step 1 by asking the person to provide their email address. Action to take: The next step is to immediately request their email address and their name. If you’re bold, also ask them to list their number of years of experience, their current job title, and their current firm’s name. With this information, even if they should they drop off before depositing their resume, you now have enough information, as well as an “assumed” permission, to contact them. With this information almost any intelligent recruiter can later determine if a person is a prime candidate for later contact. 3. Capture their decision criteria. Next, marketing people suggest that you try to gather some quick information about what interests or excites the person. That information is later used to increase your chance of selling them. Action to take: Smart recruiters provide site visitors with an opportunity that most sites never do: a chance to get feedback. For example, ask potential candidates to list their decision criteria for switching jobs. Then, rather than just capturing that information, you could provide a system that immediately responds when they enter their decision criteria. The response could be, for example: “We have 52 jobs that meet your job criteria,” or “There is a 75% chance that we have a job that fits your needs.” You could then proceed to provide them with examples of specific jobs that fit their experience and interest. As they enter more information, you can provide sample employee profiles in an attempt to convince them that many “people like them” already work at your firm. 4. Get permission to contact them later. Lastly, marketing professionals recommend that you try to get “permission” to contact potential customers later. Once this permission is granted, you can then build a longer-term mutually beneficial relationship. Action to take: Your goal is to provide potential applicants with information in two basic areas. First, convince them that “people like them” work at your firm. Second, convince them that you have jobs that fit their interests. You should specifically ask for their permission to continue the information exchange over time. If they agree, you should:
- Offer to push jobs. Offer to send them information on future job openings that might interest them.
- Send a company newsletter. Send them a monthly email newsletter that highlights your company, its jobs, its culture, and its products. Remember, people interested in working at your firm already like you, so an added benefit may be that after reading more about your company and its products, they may also be convinced to become a customer.
- Invite them to events. Invite potential candidates to product demonstrations, company training, or onsite “meet our managers” events. The more contact they have with your company, its products, and your employees, the better chance you have of landing them.
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Conclusion When you step back and look at most corporate job sites with the critical eye of a marketing expert, you immediately find most sites are lacking. Rather than implementing a major redesign, I recommend that you instead focus on improving a few key areas that can have a dramatic impact on your recruiting success. The top two website changes that can have the most immediate impact are 1) capturing potential candidates’ email addresses and 2) asking for their “job change” decision criteria. If you’re not convinced, take a walk down to your marketing department and ask them if your site currently makes good marketing sense!