Career Site Blues? 4 Tips to Drastically Improve Your Site Now

Over the past few years, I have had my fair share of career site redesigns. The first one was nearly ten years ago and everyone back then wanted to add Flash to the site to up their cool. Fast forward and the iPad’s wonkiness with Flash put the kibosh on that.

In the CareerXRoads 2013 Fortune 500 Corporate Career Websites Review, Gerry Crispin and Mark Mehler find that “the best career sites follow the job seeker. When companies succeed at putting the job seeker first, they are more likely to engage and hire the best candidates.”

Put job seekers first. But how?

What Makes a Career Site Great?

INTUITIVE DESIGN:  What does it mean for a career site to be designed intuitively? I love this statement from a blog post by

“If someone has to process too much new information, something called cognitive overload, information will get lost and a feeling of discomfort arises. The user will experience this as unintuitive. Therefore it is essential for designers to create interfaces in which not too much new information is presented.”

Whether it’s a consumer or career site, you have to give users just the right amount of information to know what to do next.

People visit a career site to search for jobs, apply for jobs, learn about your company, and prepare for interviews. Why not make it intuitively easy for them to find jobs and find information that’s important to them? I appreciate sites that help guide job seekers down a path toward information that is geared toward them.

This can be accomplished by creating pages for specific geographies, job families (sales, customer service, IT, finance, hourly positions), and/or level of career (students versus experienced). Thoughtful top- and sub-level navigation that allows job seekers to identify with specific pages within your site is a win for corporate career sites.

INSIDER’S VIEW:  “I love career pages that offer insights into life and culture, videos and social media responsiveness,” shared Celinda Appleby, a 2014 Glassdoor Talent Warrior and the driving force behind HP Careers. Well, me too, Celinda … and so do job seekers! A lot of companies offer sales or customer service jobs … what makes your jobs different from the next?

Often it’s what’s inside your organization. Shining a light on your company’s culture, people, values, events, training, and what it’s really like to work there will help your organization to attract talent and, hopefully, stand out from your competition.

Social media can be a low cost way to share glimpses into your company. Photos can be shared on Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook, and then fed back into to your career site. Some companies may choose to upload videos to YouTube and then embed them into a “media page” or specific job family pages on their career sites. A developer can easily grab code from Twitter and add a live feed to the career site. At the very least, talk to your tech team about adding those little social media icons to the page footer.

MOBILE RESPONSIVE:  It’s 2014, you know I had to go there.

To be mobile responsive means that your site automatically formats or responds to the size of the screen. It knows when it’s being accessed by a user on a desktop, tablet or smart phone and adjusts accordingly for a better user experience. “A mobile friendly or responsive design for career sites — with a mobile apply ability — is no longer a nice to have,” advises Will Staney, Head Talent Warrior at Glassdoor. “It’s a must have.”  Though keep in mind that your “mobile application should be user friendly,” adds Celinda. “Having 999 steps and no ability to add your resume from the cloud is real annoying.”

Going mobile and getting your application process mobile friendly is sometimes easier said than done. There’s the cost, time, available technology, resourcing, and talent factors to scope and assess. For corporate practitioners at many mid- or large size corporations, “going mobile” is a huge endeavor that can take months of planning and developing.

For those of you just getting started, it may be more digestible to take your site through various phases, starting with mobile optimizing your corporate site and THEN tackling the ATS. Though for the DIYers reading this article, here is a quick list of five tools for mobile sites from Chris Russell of CareerCloud.

All Roads Should Not Lead Just to the ATS

What happens when a top performer, who is interested in working for your company, visits your intuitively designed site — that’s filled with photos, realistic content and videos — and sees nothing available in his or her field? Should all be lost?

“All sites should have some kind of alternative destination or data capture capability,” recommends Carrie Corbin, a leader in digital and workforce marketing.

“It needs to be more than a shopping cart or job alert functionality of the old school ATS. It should also allow your recruiting team to source and proactively reach back out via e-mail, e-mail campaigns or SMS campaigns.”

Want More, More, More?

This was just a taste of the career site conversation! Join me and Jessica Miller-Merrell as we geek out on all things careers sites on Thursday, October 15, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. ET. This Workology Podcast, powered by Blogging4Jobs, will help get your creative (and technical) juices flowing.

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Shannon Smedstad

Shannon Smedstad has nearly 20 years of recruitment, employer branding, and communications experience. Currently, she serves as the Principal Employer Brand Strategist at exaqueo. Previously, she held employer branding and recruiting leadership roles at CEB and GEICO. She’s a work at home mom raising two awesome girls who also enjoys reading, running, leading a Girl Scout troop, and her morning coffee. You can connect with Shannon on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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