Thursday, March 3, 2011

Suggestions for Corporate Career Pages

I have made recommendations or decisions regarding the design and information provided on corporate career pages. I've looked for work in the Silicon Valley at various times and have always noted the improvements and disasters on various websites.

During the last few years, I have heard a lot of nightmare stories and complaints about corporate sites. Now that I’m looking for my next job, I’ve been surprised and even shocked to see how terrible some of these sites have become.

In this challenging economy, companies are been overwhelmed with resumes and struggle to manage them and harvest top candidates. Companies want to deter unmotivated candidates by not making it too easy to submit a resume, and they want help sorting through and qualifying candidates. Companies and vendors have provided a variety of solutions manage the process.

 When I make decisions on career pages, priorities include:

1. An overview about the company, culture and benefits, giving candidates enough information to be intrigued, but not overwhelming them.
2. Ensuring that the job location with full address is available.
3. Easy navigation. I don’t want candidates to click through endless pages of information to do a job search.
4. Clearly written job postings, good instructions about submitting resumes and an automated response for received resumes.
5. Most of my small companies have just used spreadsheets to track candidates, but I have been asked to evaluate ATS (Applicant Tracking System) options. Companies can receive hundreds or even thousands of resumes. I look at pricing, the ability to scale, sort, create reports, and move information in the event we find the system does not have capabilities mentioned in the sales cycle.
6. The internal and external customer experience is important. Internally, we have to find information easily, and customers should have a good experience on the website.

Here’s what I have found:

1. Either way too much or too little information. Some companies want me to read several pages, review their technical product information (and I’m not an engineer) and view a video. Other companies have almost nothing about the company’s needs, opportunities or culture.
2. I can’t find the company’s address: it is not listed, the contact page is a form, and the jobs listed don’t mention a city name. Guaranteed that company misses out on candidates.
3. A series of menus to navigate to search through positions. Here’s a common example for the location element:
   a. Select country.
   b. Select region.
   c. Select state.
   d. Select city.
These are pull-down menus, and if the company has 4 local offices, I have to go through the menu 4 times. Using checkboxes, Control holds or zip codes are much easier.
4. Poorly written job descriptions that are not uniformly designed, don’t say what you really need, and even the fonts are different.
5. Crazy-making resume submission processes. I found a few great sites where all of the steps are listed across the top of the page so you know what’s expected and where you are in the process. More commonly, there is a place to upload a resume and then one must complete many form fields with the same information already provided in the resume. Some of these forms are inflexible or misidentified so as to make that information useless.
6. Once the candidate has provided all of the information, and this could take 30 – 60 minutes to customize, upload, etc, then there’s another hurdle: essay questions and other quizzes.

I have never seen anything like I’ve seen in the past few months. I will go the extra mile for companies and positions of interest, but how much time do I realistically want to spend on these websites? Candidates can and do complain about job sites in person, in email groups, in social media and other outlets. It’s poor PR for a company, and that criticism is out there forever.

Some suggestions:

1. Act as if you’re a candidate and look at your website. Is it easy to navigate? Are instructions clearly written and available on each page?
2. Create a sample resume and put it through the system you currently use. Was it a painful and difficult process or did you walk away feeling good about it? You could enlist a few people into a users’ test group and gather feedback. Act on the feedback.
3. See that your address is listed.
4. Create an automated response so candidates know you received the resume.
5. If you’re going to use qualifying questions or quizzes, be sure they relate to the position and that candidates can’t find the exact question and answer on websites.

The economy is recovering and there is a war for talented candidates. Don’t make it so hard for candidates to apply that they decide against it.

If you have additional thoughts or experiences, please post a comment. If you’ve found an exceptional site you’d use as a model, it would be great to post an example: kindly provide the company’s website address.