4 Expert Tips to Start Your Career Site Project the Right Way

This post is a collaboration between exaqueo’s employer brand strategy team and Groupbrand, our strategic creative partner.

There it is, staring back at you: the company career site that hasn’t had any love since it launched. In 2007. That was 10 years ago. And a lot has changed since then. There you are: itching to tear it down, build it up, and take your career site and candidate experience to the next level.

Before you jump to colors, images, videos, and Twitter feeds—here is the information you need to know to ensure the career site project is expertly managed and to launch without a hitch.

Tip 1: Gather Your A-Team

Whether you are building your career site with an internal team or a third-party agency, getting everyone on board, early and often, is key. And selecting an experienced project manager to oversee the entire initiative is critical.

A great way to bring everyone together and start the project off right is by hosting an internal kick-off to discuss roles, responsibilities, resourcing, timeline, approvals, and how the team can best work together. Your project manager will need to gather people from across your organization (a.k.a. your stakeholders) to bring the website to life.

Here is who your A-team should include and why:

  • Overall Project Manager: to manage the project plan, timeline, communications, feedback, delivery, and expectations from concept through to launch
  • Talent Acquisition (TA): to provide guidance on the candidate experience, hiring, and key talent segments
  • Marketing/Creative: to align employment messages and creative to corporate brand guidelines, and generate ideas for layout, design, tone, and content
  • Communications: to develop content, and ensure the site is well written and proofread
  • Digital Team (digital project manager, SEO expert, designers, developers, and quality testers): to design and develop the best user journeys and experience across the site, and complete all the backend coding and technical integrations that need to happen
  • Project Sponsor: to visibly support the project and highlight its importance in leadership meetings (and possibly approve budgets)

Career sites aren't build by TA or in a silo. Incorporate your creative and digital teams together from the beginning—don’t just hand off what you think you need. They offer unique perspectives, specialized skills, and experiences not often found in recruiting professionals. However, try and avoid signing off each step of the process by committee. Ensure you have one final point of contact to approve each stage.

Tip 2: Know Your Goals

Every successful career site starts with a goal or goals in mind. It’s not a mishmash of photos and content haphazardly placed together. It’s built with user journeys, the candidate experience, and strong calls to action in mind. It’s a digital space well-architected to help organizations meet their talent attraction needs. And, it starts with understanding.

Whether you are working with your internal tech team or an external partner, before you get too far into a career site project, you’ll want to first understand:  

  1. What are your talent acquisition goals?
  2. How will a career site help you achieve those goals?
  3. What your main calls to action (e.g. learn more, apply now, join a talent community)?
  4. What does career site success look like and how will you measure it?

In addition to knowing the goals you hope to accomplish, understanding the current state of your career site is key to informing its transformation. By looking at existing career site and ATS data, you and your team can prioritize calls to action (e.g. learn more, apply now) and their relative user journeys. The data can help you determine navigation, content, and site pages.

The data may provide an insight you haven’t yet considered.

For example, in reviewing Google Analytics, an organization with global talent acquisition needs may discover that 90 percent of its career site traffic is from the United States. However, more than half of employees live outside the U.S. And, hiring needs include filling open requisition in nearly 20 locations worldwide. This is a challenge that a well-architected career site, and knowing your goals and audience can help solve.     

Tip 3: Know Your Audience

When thinking about the career site sections, pages, and content—and before heading into the design phase—you should take a user-centric approach. Why? 

  1. Your key talent segments each have different goals, motivations, and questions.
  2. You need to know who you are talking to and how they will use the site.
  3. Your website needs to be developed specifically to meet your candidates’ needs.  

For example, a business development manager will have a different perspective on employment compared to a graduate looking for their first placement. One of the most effective ways to begin to have a user-centric approach is by creating user personas for the different roles and functions across the business. This can be done through interviews and questionnaires with employees and recruiters to build up a profile of your target candidates.

Knowing who your best-fit candidates are will influence key messaging, information architecture, user experience, and design throughout the whole project. Additionally, there is often more than one user audience; secondary audiences need to be identified, too. It is unusual a website can fully provide for all audiences, so it is good to assess which are the primary (e.g. functional job families) and secondary (e.g. executives, students, veterans).

 At Groupbrand and exaqueo, we recommend carrying out an analytics audit to gather insight from your existing users. This will enable you to understand user behavior, traffic sources, content consumption, and conversion rates—as well as to gain insight regarding demographics, locations, and technology.

All this information is valuable for the project team when developing content, as well as for designing and programming the site. And, should not be a step that is overlooked.

Tip 4: Take a User and Content-first Approach

It is very common for a website project to start with a team of stakeholders looking at content they think they need. This usually results in content that has been collated from elsewhere and is then re-organized to fit the needs of the website. The result is a site with lots of information, but is often dry, hard to digest, and doesn’t connect with candidates/site users.

Once the audience types are identified and understood, begin thinking about the intent behind visiting the career site, for example:

  • Are they looking to apply to a specific job?
  • Are they researching the company before an interview?
  • Are they looking for information to make an offer decision?
  • Are they passively browsing to see what sort of jobs are available?

Once these intents are established the career site content and functionality can be created. This process helps ensure the user gets exactly what they need. And the user experience along the path to conversion (e.g. a completed job application or talent community opt-in) is as compelling as possible.

The next important step to consider is the content for each type of user journey.

With this information in hand, we are in a strong position to start reviewing the content actually needed to address the intents for our primary and secondary audiences. We can think of specific key messages to hook the users. We can identify key facts, case studies, or stories to engage them across the career site.

To help visualize this, we recommend designing a content framework. Typically, these are high-level wireframe diagrams detailing the content and user journeys for all audience types. At this stage, it’s helpful to discuss:

  • The ideal format for content delivery.
  • Where and how to use video, images, infographics, and/or text.
  • A “fast lane” for users who are ready to apply.
  • A “slower lane” for users who want to fully research the company and explore opportunities.

Your career site is the sun within your digital talent attraction universe. > Click to tweet!

It’s critically important that it fully supports all of your talent attraction goals and needs. By using this approach, you will build a website that works for your users, which will in turn best support your organization.

Ready to Be Inspired?
Check out our recent website work, including Princeton University and the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals. 

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