Best practices for Web site recruiting

The careers section of the corporate Web site is quickly becoming the first and most valuable point of contact between candidates and companies.

The corporate Web site is a vital projection of the corporate image and a key communication platform. The careers section is both a vehicle for branding, and a platform for interaction between job candidates and corporate recruiters/hiring managers.

Corporations can optimize the powerful recruiting opportunity inherent in the careers section of the corporate Web site by understanding and adopting Web site recruiting “best practices.”

The goals of the best practices are to:

•attract traffic to the corporate career Web site;

•convince potential candidates of the company’s status as an employer of choice; and

•capture and process the candidate’s information in a streamlined process that benefits both candidate and corporate recruiter.

Through best practices implementation, a corporation may achieve a competitive edge in recruiting the most qualified candidates quickly, and gain financial benefits from both direct cost reductions and opportunity cost savings due to a higher quality hiring process.

A recent benchmarking study by iLogos Research, a division of Recruitsoft, Best Practices for Fortune 500 Career Web Site Recruiting, found that nearly all of the Fortune 500 use their corporate Web sites to recruit.

Currently, among Fortune 500 companies:

•89 per cent have a careers section on their corporate Web site;

•76 per cent post job positions on the careers section of their corporate Web site; and

•71 per cent post job positions and accept applications on their corporate Web site.

Attracting candidates

Customers, investors, competitors and active job-seekers all visit corporate Web sites and present a ripe pool for recruiting. A prominently positioned link or button on the homepage leading directly to the careers section makes it easy for passive job-seekers to pursue job opportunities with a company. The report found that 73 per cent of the companies provide a link directly to their careers section.

A first-rate job search tool, providing a search of open job positions by location, job category and keyword is the most effective and user-friendly way to have candidates view suitable open job positions. Back-end systems must, of course, be sufficiently robust to power it.

In addition, corporations can gain maximum exposure for future job openings. Candidates attracted to a company can stay up-to-date on new job openings of interest if the careers Web site offers a “Job Agent” feature. With it, the candidate leaves a personal e-mail address and receives automated notifications of future matching positions. Job Agents build ongoing relationships with job-seekers, stretch marketing budgets further and require no resource allotment from the recruiting staff. Currently, only six per cent of Fortune 500 companies benefit from this powerful functionality, perhaps because their hiring management systems do not provide the necessary profiling and automation.

Another best practice for extending the reach of a careers section is enabling the visitor to e-mail job descriptions to a friend. This feature taps into a site visitor’s referral network and effectively provides prescreened applicants at no sourcing cost. Although the efficacy of employee referral programs is widely acknowledged, an overwhelming 91 per cent of the Fortune 500 don’t take advantage of this virtual “visitor referral program.”

Convincing candidates

In the current job market, in which a qualified candidate may have the luxury of a choice between several competing companies, candidates are looking for “fit” just as much as employers are. Job culture is an extremely important consideration in assessing fit and has tremendous impact on employee retention.

Virtual tours, day in the life narratives, and profiles of both key management positions and of typical employees convey to online job seekers a sense of the work atmosphere and corporate culture. Forty-four per cent of the Fortune 500 take steps to describe their corporate culture to job-seekers.

The careers section can also maintain the job-seeker’s interest by offering a high quality of information on the company’s employee benefits. So that job-seekers can come to a fully informed decision about pursuing a career with the company, 55 per cent of the Fortune 500 publish information on their benefits packages in their careers sections.

Certainly, the best chance to sell a position to a potential candidate is with the job description. Well-written, enticing and comprehensive (in a style appropriate for the Web) job descriptions market the position to the candidate. Start with the job title, which must catch the eye and draw the jobseeker in. Too many job titles listed on careers sections are the internal ones the company uses (like “Analyst II”) or simply repurposed print classified descriptions. Post an “externally focused” title; instead of “Project Manager” try “Mission-Critical E-commerce Project Manager.”

The job description itself has to cover the basics, such as the requisite abilities, credentials, and past experience. Best practices here include clear information on location, travel requirements and salary range, so that job-seekers can self-screen.

The careers Web site should compel the job-seeker to take the time to submit information to the corporation, and the corporation should be able to process these applications efficiently. Here, best practices centre on ease-of-use and a variety of methods of information submission and processing.

Web site navigation must be natural and easy. For a candidate to respond online, it should take no more than one click from a job description. Don’t make candidates go hunting for instructions on how to apply once they have identified a suitable job opening. Fifty-six per cent of Fortune 500 companies follow the “One Click to Apply” best practice. This is easy to implement and yields direct results.

To capture the largest candidate pool, all candidates should be accommodated, regardless of their state of “resume-readiness.” Offer candidates a choice between a cut-and-paste form (for those that do have a resume on hand) and a resume builder, (to help those without a current resume). Only 14 per cent of the Fortune 500 provide candidates with a choice between a cut-and-paste form and a resume builder.

Online applications can incorporate pre-assessment questions to assess the match between a candidate’s skills, credentials and experience and the requirements of a particular job position. Having pre-assessment tools customized for each job position is a leading-edge best practice implemented by only a handful of the Fortune 500 today. However, with sophisticated hiring management system (HMS) database and software applications robust enough to handle the task of customized prescreening, companies can benefit from automating much of the initial candidate data flow. For optimal results, the back-end hiring management system should be able to store, access and mine a variety of candidate data resume and profile information.

Next practices

Companies will seek to gain a competitive edge with such features as communication personalization; multimedia and multi-channel messaging, including wireless; and instantaneous candidate feedback. Multi-language capabilities will become prevalent to accommodate the increasingly diverse and global workforce. Advanced metrics and analytics to align business strategy with human capital management practices will emerge and, for the first time, become more predictive and trackable.

Companies that are behind in online recruiting techniques will find it increasingly difficult to compete. A new breed of hiring management systems, delivered by Application Service Providers (ASPs), are making it possible for companies to equip their Web site recruiting efforts with the right tools overnight to help them maintain their lead or leapfrog ahead of their competition. In the online war for talent, the most nimble organizations will lead.

Alice Snell is vice-president of iLogos Research, a division of Recruitsoft. She can be reached at [email protected].

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