“Did you see our careers site?” I mumble, “yes,” knowing what they are going to say next. I get the question every time.
“Well, what do you think of it?”
I use the same answer every time, too: “Do you want the explicit truth or the polished answer?” I usually laugh when I say this to break the awkward silence of telling someone the social equivalent of “your kid isn’t cute.”
They laugh, too, because they know this baby is ugly. But behind that laugh is insecurity and fear because they’re really asking, “Is this good enough? Does it work?”
Unfortunately, I never can answer that question. Right, wrong, good, and bad are a moving target in recruiting, and that comes with uncertainty and insecurity. No one wants to be a bad example. More so, practitioners want to do the right thing and create great content.
Everyone starts with good intentions when creating their careers site – big goals, creative content, and bold ideas. Then reality hits. Slowly, they chip away at the original concept for reality. You know the deal. You start to trim for lack of technical resources. Then, it’s copying and pasting old or “borrowed” content from competitors. Slowly but surely, bold ideas become watered down for executive appeal and timelines.
If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. That’s a reality of corporate America. Stakeholders. Systems. We evolve, change, and customize – but only sometimes for the better.
What does an excellent career site need?
I can’t teach you blanket rules for how to navigate corporate politics. I can give you a few ideas for creating a great career site. While most would say, “rip out your ATS” or “get a new system,” that’s not reality. You usually can’t control what systems you use.
What can you control? You can control how you say what you want to say in the first place. So here are five things you can do to upgrade an average careers site without overhauling your technology or giving in to the urge to copy and paste.
1. In the top half of the screen, aka what you can see when your browser window is full screen, add one sentence that is all about the candidate, not your company. Something like “we want you” or “grow your career with us.” Emphasis on the words “you” and “your.” This page is about them and why they should join your company, after all.
2. Do a clarity check. Have someone who does not work at your company sit down and read your career site. Now ask them, “what do we do?” If they can’t answer that question, you should edit that part next.
3. Use quotes to show vs. tell. Do you know the part of the site where you have all of your values listed? Explain it with quotes from your team instead of a bunch of benefits and corporate communications. Here’s what I mean – you can call yourself collaborative all you want, but let me ask you this – What does it mean to be collaborative at your company? Use that story instead of playing buzzword bingo to talk about your “collaborative company.”
4. Evolve your application automation. You know that “we got your email, and we’ll let you know if we don’t throw it in the trash” auto-response? Add a paragraph about what happens next when you complete the interview. Simple, helpful content.
5. Bonus tip: overhaul your job postings ( this workbook can help.) Start with your most challenging roles. Interview people in the job, then use quotes from those conversations to write content that will attract other smart people like them.