If we adopt an employee life cycle logic, looking for a job and applying for a job is one of the first steps in the employee experience and your career site is one of the first points of contact between the employee and a given company.
According to his level of knowledge of the company he will be interested in various subjects which are :
- The company in general
- How it is organized
- What it will bring to him as an individual (HR and talent development)
- How is it to be an employee (daily life, work organization, methods)
- What jobs does it offer?
It’s not a fixed, linear journey. Some candidates will look at some of these topics in a different order, some will not look at everything (if the company is very well known for example).
And not all of them will start their journey from the same place: thinking that they all start from the home page of your site and make their way to the offer is a mistake! A search engine can take them directly to the offer and they will inquire about the rest afterwards. Moreover unless your brand is very strong they will never start with your page but with the offer because they don’t know you! And if you continue to have few visits directly by the offers it is not that your site is well done but on the contrary that the SEO of your offers is a disaster.
So I put myself in the shoes of a candidate and I went on career websites of companies of all sizes and sectors. And this is what I found most often.
A long way to the offer
Starting from the Home page the way to the offer is long. Very long. Sometimes with “junctions” that I don’t even understand: why ask myself if I’m a beginner or an experienced person when it’s a simple search engine criterion that can be dealt with later and only adds a useless click to a sequence that already has too many of them.
Sometimes I’m asked from the start to choose the job I’m interested in…but in the end I’m taken back to a generic job search page that doesn’t take this criterion into account.
So very often, I’m going through a series of clicks and pages thinking “that’s it, we’re finally getting to the offers”, and no, we’re not. It’s like someone saying “hey wait, we have one more thing to tell you before you apply”.
Too many messages
In fact it seems that the path to the offer is a pretext to expose myself to as many messages as possible. “So this is who we are”. “You’re going to take 2 minutes to read our values”. “Ah, we forgot to tell you about CSR”. “Are you sure you can’t read our talent development policy before looking for an offer”. “Yes it’s ok, we’ll present you with the offers soon but first you have to watch the videos of employees who tell you how great it is to work with us”.
Frankly, it makes you want to drop out and go see somewhere else.
Imagine for two seconds a customer to whom you would say: “you have the right to buy our products but before you do you have to watch 5 commercials”. Irrelevant? Yes totally.
It seems that HR communicators have so little opportunity to talk to candidates that they say “we’ve got them now, we’re going to make them swallow as much as possible”.
Moreover, I am facing a very institutional communication. I have the impression that they are trying at all costs to fit in very corporate messages but not to answer my questions. The tone of the messages confirms it: where product marketing has recently come out of the “advertising” era, it seems that HR marketing (or rather HR communication…because it is precisely a marketing approach that is missing) is in the hands of former employees of state owned medias from the 50s.
Allo, any persona here ?
I think that for a company that recruits from craftmen to high level managers, from seasonal workers to permanent contracts, from interns to experienced people to work in a network of distributors as well as at the head office, it all seems too monolithic to me.
Whatever the job, the job profile, the level of qualification, we follow the same path and we are told the same thing and in the same tone. Talking to everyone in the same way I’m afraid that they’ ll end up talking to no one.
Messages that do not differentiate
Too much information kills information and we are on the verge of disgust. Worse: no matter what sector I’m in, I always feel like I’m reading the same thing. I understand that everyone today is innovative, socially responsible, concerned about the development of their employees, engaged? But I would be curious to ask randomly selected employees how this manifests itself in concrete terms.
All companies want to show their differences in their employer brand, or at least that’s what they say. But when everyone is different in the same way everyone is the same.
The job offers maze
I finally get to the search engine. At this point it’s better if you studied at the MIT or one of its likes. Ergonomics often questionable. And how do you want me to know the names of all your internal BUs to target my search? I wonder if sometimes the people who designed the site are aware that the person applying, by definition, does not know all the internal codes of the company. In short, making a well-targeted search can sometimes be a bit of an uphill battle. Search engines for people outside the company that are designed for internal people who know all the intricacies of the organization.
To search for an offer, I am asked to enter “organizational boxes” which by definition I do not know. On the other hand there’s nothing done to suggest me offers I would not have thought about by myself, starting based on my search criteria, skills etc.
HR communication talks about itself more than it talks about or to the candidate or even listens to him and this is a problem. The candidate buys a professional project, not a navel that the communicators gaze at a little too much.
A botched integration of HRIS
That’s good. I’ve pretty much narrowed it down. And now I’m being offered a list of jobs as long as my arm. By the way, “offer” is a big word: I’d rather say they’re spit in my face. No formatting effort, it’s like an ERP from the 80s. You get lost in it and it doesn’t make you want to click, but hey, since I made the effort to get to this point, I’m not going to give up so close to the goal.
Verbal diarrhea continues
Come on, I click on an offer. Presentation of the company I’ve already read 10 times, in fact I’m getting a best of of what I’ve already endured a few minutes before. The offer as such represents a maximum of 25% of the text. So many contortions to say simple things. At this point my mind starts to get confused. I’ve read too much, I’ve been thrown so many messages that I had to ingest them under duress and pressure that deciphering the offer and extracting the key information from the HR marketing stuff becomes painful.
I go “back” to go back to the list. Bad luck : there are still sites where my search criteria are not kept so I have to search again to access the list of offers. Or the criteria were kept but not the page I was on. Was I on page 2 or 3 of the search results? I am taken back to the first one.
So I finally find a dream offer.
Luckily I didn’t come directly to the offer.
Before submitting my application I take 5 minutes to think about it and I tell myself that the long and laborious navigation that brought me here was not so useless. If I had ever arrived here directly through a search engine or because I was given a link, it would have been hard to have any information about the company.
As a matter of fact, if we can complain about the too big volume of information and the number of clicks that lead to the offer, if we arrive directly on it we suddenly lack essential information. It is not necessarily easy to find it again unless you start a long navigation through the site and this time without an organized path and without everything being easy to find if you start from the ad without a navigation history in the browser.
In fact everything is thought out to start from the home page, to get information about the company and finally to go to the offers. If you arrive by the offer, it is impossible to go the other way around.
Worse still, I have seen cases where career sites have separated the “content” and the offers, one on the company’s site, the other in a dedicated site coupled with the ATS (Applicant Tracking System). Thanks for the experience when one tries to go up the river upstream.
This is where I’d like to quickly find one or two testimonials from employees (ideally doing this job or a similar one because when you’re looking for a delivery job you don’t care about what people in HR or marketing have to say about their job) and quick links to some basic questions I can ask myself at this stage. And if I like this offer or “almost” like it, maybe suggest me similar offers?
The application ordeal
Well I found the perfect offer, so let’s try to apply.
It’s incredible the number of input fields that one can sometimes find oneself in front of. I sometimes wonder what all this information is for. And above all, this information is almost always available on the CV that I am asked to attach.
Some remarks in bulk :
- Why add a CV when you can put a link to a linkedin profile?
- Why limit the size of attachments to this extent? If you hire a designer or certain other professions, the applicant will often have a heavy “book” to share.
- The mobile experience is generally great on the content part, not when you switch to the search engine or offers. And what about the application form. If we assume that mobile is becoming more and more the norm, one has to stop thinking that the candidate is in front of his desktop when he applies. He probably won’t have a CV on his phone but can instead connect with his Linkedin profile. As for the cover letter if you think you can apply on a cell phone stop asking for one. Apart from the fact that the exercise is rarely relevant, it is certain that no one will type a letter on their cell phone and that you will only get a generic letter at best. I do not believe that the candidate will bookmark the offer to answer it once back home…
After visiting a career site
I came, I found information, I applied or not (for whatever reason). And then? Sometimes nothing (except if I applied but I didn’t push the vice to test the responsiveness of the recruitment process and whether or not I would I have responses and when).
Sometimes, even if I don’t apply, I am offered to stay in touch and give my email. But to what end? And why? Maybe I like the company but I haven’t found the right offer. Maybe I came out of curiosity without really being in search. Maybe I am urgently looking for a job.
Will I be spoken to in the same way in all these cases? With the same communication in the same emailings? At the same pace? I think so, when it is possible to be much more relevant. Depending on his context, the candidate will have different expectations in terms of information and will not bear the same marketing “pressure”. (Take a look at this interview I did about the CRM Candidate solution Candidate.id)
Your career site is an e-commerce site that sells jobs!
Making observations is good, but if we don’t get back to the root causes, it’s useless. I will go into detail in an upcoming article but to put it concisely I feel that there is a lack of awareness of what a career site is in 2020. Or if this awareness exists, the consequences have not been drawn from it or by getting advice from the wrong people.
A career site is an e-commerce site that sells jobs. If you’re wondering exactly what that means, go down the hall and talk to the people who handle e-commerce in your company. But to get to the point:
- Your goal is to convert (get applications), not to communicate. Communication sometimes helps, if it is well done, to get the “right” candidates, but it must be goal-oriented and not self-centered (we have recited our speech well, the mission is accomplished). The candidate wants answers to his questions, too many career sites just try to get the company’s message across. It reminds me of this old joke of a politician being interviewed on TV. “This is not what I asked you. Yes but it’s my answer”.
- You lose a customer after 3 clicks. Same for a candidate.
- The product description (the offer) must be self-sufficient without further navigation.
- Those who communicate (communication/marketing) must collaborate with those who sell (the recruiters) and they are at their service. Communication is not an institutional island detached from reality.
- The mobile experience, especially for the “check-out” (the application) is key.
- The more information you ask for, the heavier the check-out is, the fewer people go through it. Is this a relevant criterion to identify a motivated candidate? I don’t think so.
- Working on the SEO of the content is good but a priori those who know you will naturally come to see your offers. What you are looking for is candidates for your offers without them having thought about your company, without sometimes knowing it, without them knowing that it offers such opportunities so they must be thought as home pages in themselves, SEO included.
Too many companies think that their reputation is enough to attract the right candidates. That they don’t have to convince but to promote themselves. That all candidates are the same, with the same expectations. That since this is a job that is at stake no matter how good the candidate’s experience is, no matter how long, inappropriate and laborious the process is, the candidates will be ready to endure anything to submit a CV.
There is no better way to easily illustrate the subject of the consumerization of the enterprise and the candidate experience. You can’t deploy extraordinary energy and resources to sell products to customers and make the candidate experience an ordeal at the same time, especially since sometimes it’s the customer experience that engages and motivates a person enough to consider a brand as an employer.
And, contrary to what I’ve been told, going through a complicated and laborious online application process does not guarantee that candidates will be selected based on their motivation. You’ll just get the most desperate ones.