This blog originally appeared here on SocialTalent.co.


When was the last time that your recruitment site or careers page had an overhaul? The more recruiters that we talk to the more people who raise the question of new website design and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). It seems that a large proportion of agencies and hiring companies are looking at their websites and deciding that it just isn't up to scratch for 2012.

For most the solution is to engage a web design company and get them to make something "flashy" or "pretty", but this is a mistake. The real work must be done by the recruiters before you engage any external web design or development companies. A successful career site (or website in general, for that matter) isn't about being flash (especially not being built in FlashⓇ!) or pretty.  It's likely that your site should be about candidate attraction, CV harvesting, providing information and many other things that you need to figure out for yourself.

Web designers are not recruiters, they DO NOT understand your business, nor can they expected to be! They will be guided by your brief. If that brief is crap (sorry!) or lacking in specifics, well then don't expect a brilliant end-result! The proof is in the planning.

So, here is the Internal 8 Point Plan that we recommend our clients to take up front to make sure that the brief they pass on to the design or development agency ROCKS and is based on sound business objectives, research, and most importantly, input from the experts: you the Recruiters!

Working with your team, you need to sit down together and generate ideas and responses to the following questions:

Strengths: Identify what your core Services (list them out in main sections) or sectors that you recruit for are, and branch your website layout according to those services. Look at Osborne Recruitment's site in how they've laid out their sectors on their home page.

Audience: For each service, identify who is your audience? Describe them, what gender are they, likely age profile, education, level of online sophistication, etc. Also, consider how people will view your site - are they on a desktop or on their smartphone? Now, go and identify with them, play to them and design your site around them. Take Teamworx.ie's website, who recruit for retail staff. They've identified that their target audience is mainly women and fashion-oriented, and so their site reflects this.

Attraction: For each service and potential audience segment, what are the keywords that they will likely search the web for to find your service and what keyword searches can you deliver a service for. One of the best SEO'd recruitment sites is CPL. Look at their site's URL's, titles, keywords on the page, image descriptions and more. Everything is automated so it takes no effort on behalf of their recruiters, and it's perfect.

Retention: What great content and information can you provide on your website that would encourage one of these target segments to stay on your site, read your stuff and hopefully take an action? It can be interview tips, CV writing tips, videos, social profile tips, blogs on an industry segment and more. Take a look at Celebrity Staff's blog page, packed with tips for both candidates and employers alike. They've also done steps 1-3 excellently as well, identifying their core strengths and targeting their audience of professionals by using images and text that reinforce that.

Conversion: Think CALL TO ACTION - what's the one thing you want your visitor to do when they land on your site or web-page? When each potential viewer (in each service area and audience segment) arrives at your website, identify the ONE measurable action that you want them to take (like call you, email you, sign-up for something, comment, buy something, attend something, etc). Make your call to action large enough so that it's harder to ignore, and attractive enough so that they feel happy about performing that action.

Loyalty: What would likely encourage each of your target segments to return to your website on a regular basis? Is it a fresh news feed of jobs, or industry news, or a daily or weekly blog? Something else you could think about is incorporating your social media strategy in to your site. Post obvious links to your Facebook and Twitter pages, and give them a reason to click "Follow" - is it for regular job alerts or job-hunt tips? Using social networks is an excellent way to promote loyalty to your brand, and stay loyal to your followers also. Ask them via Facebook what they'd like you to blog about next, ask their opinion or  to cast their vote.

Referral: How can you encourage your audience to recommend your site and/ or share links to your web-pages with their peer group?

Aesthetics & Navigation: Take a 5-10 person group and ask them to share their Top 3 websites. They should be industry neutral, and just good websites. Collect the list and ask your group why they like these sites. Look at the design features that are most appealing and applicable to your business and seek to copy them.

In the background, you also need to choose a content management platform (Wordpress is strongly recommended for ease of use, cost-effectiveness and SEO). Next, look at your web host company, and then start shopping around for a web designer and then a web developer (these are separate skills, believe it or not! They can be found together but more often not you'll need separate people).

Your answers to the above questions will enable you to build a complete picture of the web-site or careers site that will deliver on your corporate goals. Talk to us if you want further advice on where to go from here.

Have you commissioned a new recruitment website lately? Can you give any recommendations for your web designers and developers? Let us know in the comments.

Views: 881

Tags: checklist, customising, design, recruiter, recruitment, redesigning, site, website, your

Comment by Alasdair Murray on January 26, 2012 at 12:28pm

No mention of the all important ingredient of any good website - decent quality copy and a bit of creativity. So often us poor copywriters get asked to provide words to fill in a template that's already been designed by someone who knows nothing about recruitment or the message the recruiter is trying to get across. The best way to go about getting yourself a decent website is to address the points raised above then brief a writer to come up with a concept, a theme, an idea - something different to hang the whole site on.

Imagery of people shaking hands or a group round a boardroom table with beaming smiles on their faces is fine, except it's been done a thousand times (actually more like 50,000 times, probably more). We know it;s a people business, try and think laterally. What is your offering? How does it differ from others? What can set you apart and get you away from the cliches? Remember, copy first THEN template - and always look to be creative rather than predictable.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on January 27, 2012 at 9:18pm

Although you did provide a link to the original post of this blog it might be considerate to credit the author  Holly Fawcett   when you cut and paste, unless of course Holly is one of your fake identities..  Although not outright plagarism it appears somewhat disingenious to post it under your cartoon avatar without crediting the author and ask for comments.

Comment by Johnny Campbell on January 28, 2012 at 12:20pm

@Alasdair: Very important ingredients indeed but in my experience too many people focus on nice copy without thinking about what the web-site is there for in the first place. I gather you are an experienced recruiter who helps to write copy for recruitment sites; something a lot of people should have a need for! Fair play. On the stock images, I 100% agree, nasty stuff. Companies should use their own staff, customers and clients; it always looks better.

@Sandra Always so lovely to have your input. Holly works with Social Talent and very kindly published my post from her work account whilst I was traveling. 

Comment by Sandra McCartt on January 28, 2012 at 12:36pm
You are so very welcome. Most of us publish under our own byline and are "social" enough to post from our mobile devices. Perhaps some "social training" is in order. But good of you to clarify. I'm all about full disclosure and transparency as it particularly relates to people being whom they say they are online.
Comment by Alasdair Murray on January 30, 2012 at 10:39am

Hi Johnny, thanks for the response. For the record though, I'm not, nor have I ever been a recruiter. I've had plenty as clients in my time but my background is as an advertising agency account director. I worked at several ad agencies that specialise in recruitment communications before setting up as a freelance copywriter back in 2001. Over the years I have worked with and handled the advertising/marketing for recruitment consultancies of all sizes from start ups to multi-nationals/global, plus a whole range of organisations in pretty much every business sector. My job when writing web content is indeed to identify what the site is there for and the message it needs to be emitting whilst trying to avoid cliches, both in words and imagery, as well as words like 'dynamic'.

Comment by Tracy TC on February 1, 2012 at 8:47pm

I'm probably one of the few people in the world experienced with recruiting, copywriting and web marketing.  =-)  Excellent post!  Functionality is way underrated in the corporate web world.  Alasdair is spot on, too.  Effective copywriting is a critical and underappreciated ingredient in the functionality mix, too.  

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