The total candidate experience is impacted by many variables in the talent acquisition process including: interactions with the recruiter, hiring manager and other organization representatives, but what many companies don’t consider is that the experience often starts online at the corporate web site and through job postings. Candidates consider their online experience a window into the organization. The key to ensuring a positive candidate experience is to optimize communications at critical points in the recruiting process. Again, the first of these touch points is often at the corporate web site, at a job board, or increasingly, on a search engine like Google.
But, I believe that it is always best to start at the beginning. Before we can enhance a candidate’s online experience, we have to help them FIND your web site or job posting. This issue is the same whether the candidate is utilizing a search engine or job board (think of the boards as basically niche search engines just for jobs). Further, as search engine-like posting aggregators such as Indeed and SimplyHired gain in popularity, and as Google continues to develop their emerging business model around Google Base, the inevitable result is that job seekers’ utilization of search engines to search for jobs will increase exponentially. Many predict that when this happens, it will be the end of CareerBuilder and Monster – but I tend to disagree. I am a Knight Ridder Digital alumnus, and I was the Careers Channel Regional Sales Manager when KR bought its stake in CareerBuilder. Many people predicted the death of the print classifieds then too. Make no mistake that I am an online evangelist and “new school” recruitment girl through and through, but I mean come on – how many job seekers still use the local paper in a job search and how many companies still place line ads in the local paper? Quite a few. The job boards have definitely dampened their print spirits, but they have not killed them – and I don’t expect that Google Base will extinguish Monster’s torch either.
Regardless, what IS important right now is the necessity of companies to use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Job Posting Optimization (JPO) techniques. You may not be up to speed on all of the SEO-speak. The easiest way to explain it is that the average online job seeker, whether active or passive is “Boolean illiterate” – meaning that they don’t know the magic words to type into a search box to find your company careers site, posting, or job board posting. You can bet that where one job seeker searches using the words “account executive”, another job seeker will search for “sales”. One will choose “RN”, another will choose “Nurse”. You say “Eggplant”, I say “Aubergine” – ok, not really, but you get the point. Understanding these issues and utilizing that knowledge to construct or optimize job postings effectively will help you attract top-level active and PASSIVE candidates.
For this post, let’s focus on optimizing job postings, and I will leave the Careers Site Search Engine Optimization topic for later.
• Titles should state the job name and other words that might commonly be used to describe that position, as well as a strong selling feature to pique curiosity.
• Description should lead with a strong summary statement since this sentence is what candidates will see in the search results. The major job boards’ search results deliver the title and the first 1-2 lines of the description. Further, top-level, passive candidates won’t read any further unless they’re convinced it’s worth their while.
• Body copy MUST contain as many relevant key words that a candidate could possibly include in a search.
• Provide instructions on how to apply or make contact with a recruiter if they are interested in you, and let them know what the next steps are in the process.
I can’t stress this one enough:
• If the candidate is truly passive and does not have a resume with which to apply – a short application should be provided requiring only the most necessary information needed to evaluate their fit with organization’s needs and make contact.
Tips to Optimize Response:
• Refresh your postings every 7 days if the site allows it.
• Post ads on Friday for weekend exposure – job searching is at its highest on Mondays.
• Always acknowledge receipt with an auto-responder and advise what the candidate can expect for next steps.
Now that they can find you – as far as the candidate experience is concerned – your job postings serve as marketing communications about what makes your company an employer of choice. Unfortunately, for a passive candidate, being an employer of choice isn’t enough. They have jobs and are not necessarily looking for your job, but even happily employed top talent will be interested in a career advancing opportunity. Pique their interest and tell them right at the beginning what is in it for them. Lesson: Help candidates find you by properly optimizing postings, focus on what is in it for them and TRUTHFULLY entice them to explore the opportunity, then invite them to connect. We have engagement.