Four hours. When was the last time you spent four hours researching a topic? For many job seekers, the answer is “last week”. Candidates invest a huge amount of time researching their next role. According to the Talent Board’s most recent Candidate Experience Research Report, a majority of candidates spend at least an hour researching a job. Here’s the breakdown: Think about the breadth and depth of study involved for those candidates investing more than five hours into their job-related research! Imagine the emotional investment they put in their findings. And with two, three, or four hours of research, it doesn’t matter how poorly your careers site ranks on Google – they’ll find it. So when they finally do land on your careers pages, what will they discover?
Stand Out from the Crowd
Most careers pages are company puff pieces, full of industry jargon that sounds great to management, but baffling to candidates. When it comes to standing out from the crowd, there are three overarching strategies you should follow:
1) Leverage Your Employees
Your current employees were, at some point, your candidates. Ask them why they chose to apply, what they liked about the process, and what they didn’t. Use that feedback to build a career page content framework that both builds on your strong points and addresses any weaknesses. As you’re asking your current employees about why they chose to apply (and why they’ve stayed), you’ll notice that they tend to fall into one of three buckets:
- The Brand Evangelist. These guys love working for your company. They love your values, love your culture, and love the experiences they’ve created during their tenure.
- The Passive Paycheck Earner. No matter how stellar your employer brand, there are always going to be employees who don’t quite get it. They don’t hate your organization, but they don’t love it either. They just want to put in the work and put food on the table.
- The Antagonist. While few in number, you’ll probably find folks who don’t like their current work situation but feel trapped by the need to earn a paycheck. They’re probably hunting for other opportunities right now (and leaving scathing anonymous reviews in their wake).
Your Brand Evangelists are key to creating career pages that are both authentic and engaging, but you should feature more passive employees as well. Use their stories of personal growth, professional advancement, and other work-related anecdotes to give life and authenticity to your job descriptions. If you have a company blog, invite them to write for it – you want to put these Brand Evangelists front and center.
2) Let Candidates “See” Inside Your Organization
Video already accounts for 73% of all internet traffic, and this number is expected to increase to 82% in 2021. Video is quickly transforming from a “nice to have” to a “need to have.” Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to produce video content candidates actually want to see. You don’t need a video production team to create authentic “day in the life” videos. Both high quality productions and videos-on-a-budget have their benefits.
High Quality Video
Video with a high production value is incredibly engaging. High production values keep candidates watching, but can come across as overly-polished corporate fluff. It’s important that high production values are used to augment an authentic script and strong content – not replace it.
Budget video is much more flexible than its high quality counterpart. Since smartphones are ubiquitous, it’s much easier to get the footage you need to create a realistic, authentic job preview. On the other hand, most candidates have been trained to expect reasonably high production values in the video content they consume. Budget video generally will not have the same “holding power” as video with more money behind it. If budget is limited to a single, high quality video, use it to provide a look into your company as a whole. Then leverage the increased authenticity that comes from “candid-camera” style video (that can basically be produced for free with a smartphone) to provide deeper insight into individual job roles.
3) A Candidate-Centric Job Description
Most job descriptions are still what psychologists refer to as “Demands-Abilities.” Essentially this means their primary purpose is to levy a series of demands on potential applicants. If your ultimate goal is building a stellar employer brand, this just won’t do. Job descriptions that focus on what the role supplies to the candidate (in terms of professional development, personal growth, etc) receive 3x as many highly qualified applicants. This candidate-centric job description is commonly referred to as “Needs-Supplies”. Many organizations advertise their most important job requisitions anyway. Since the job description is often an applicant’s first interaction with your brand, it’s critical to make the most of this lucrative branding real estate. To build a “Needs-Supplies” job description, you should focus on these three things:
- Career advancement opportunities.
- Work autonomy.
- Professional development.
The highest qualified applicants are driven to constantly learn, grow, and re-invent themselves – that’s why they’re the highest qualified. Giving them a glimpse into what “needs” of theirs will be “supplied” by the open position will rocket your application to the top of their priority list.