For hiring and HR professionals, it likely comes as no surprise that the job market and application process are constantly evolving. Besides the effects of economic changes, a new generation is entering the workforce, and digital tools are becoming more important in finding and hiring job applicants.
As these changes unfold, one of the most important tools you have at your disposal is your organization’s website. If your applicants don’t find your job postings directly through your website—and many will—they’ll find you on other online hiring platforms that link back to postings on your site.
Attracting a strong group of applicants for your job postings and streamlining your hiring process means that you’ll need to make your organization’s website engaging and easy to use. In order to leverage your website effectively for job applications, use these four tips:
- Check your website’s usability for applicants
- Write web-friendly job postings
- Make your job application pages fit with your website’s branding
- Be transparent about your organization’s professional offerings
If you follow these tips, your hiring process and your website’s look will evolve side by side, which will be more efficient and effective for you and for applicants.
1. Check your website’s usability for job applicants
Since many applicants will apply for jobs through your organization’s website, either by finding you directly or by following links on other recruiting sites, the website needs to be as easy for them to use as possible. Posting new job openings on your website could actually be the perfect opportunity for you to refresh the site so that it’s as functional as possible for anyone interested in your organization.
When you post a job opening on your site, you’ll want to test all the important aspects of your navigation, including these elements:
- Getting from the home page to the job application page. Especially if you’re doing a big hiring push, you want your job application page front and center. Put it in a noticeable spot in your navigation bar, and maybe add a “We’re hiring! View open positions or apply now!” call to action on the home page with a working link to the application page.
- Viewing all parts of the job listing. Scroll through each listing to make sure you can easily find the full description, qualifications, application materials and deadline, links to the application itself, and any other information or images you choose to include. If the page takes a long time to load, check the site’s backend for any possible slowdowns.
- Answering any survey questions built into the site. If you’re collecting any information about or feedback from applicants using survey questions on the site, take the survey yourself to check that the formatting is right on their end and that you can easily see their responses on yours.
- Uploading external files. Try adding a few different file types (especially Microsoft Word documents and PDFs) to the “Upload a File” spaces in the application to see which ones you can view on your end. That way, you can tell applicants exactly which file types they can use when they upload resumes, cover letters, or any other documents.
An intuitive website builder, like the nonprofit website builders that Loop suggests, will help you to create an easy-to-use site, even if you aren’t a professional developer. If you encounter any problems during or after your test run, you can go in through the backend of the website builder and fix them as they come up.
2. Write web-friendly job postings
The job posting is the most important part of attracting applicants, and writing a good one is something of an art. As explained in Real HR Solutions’ article on job descriptions, job postings need to be strategically constructed, since they’ll help in both attracting the right candidates to your organization and defining their roles once they’re hired.
Writing a job posting for your organization’s website comes with a unique set of challenges. As with any online content, you’ll need to keep in mind people’s shortening attention spans and the amount of competition for their attention. So, your posting should stand out from similar job ads and engage your readers.
These best practices will help make your online job posting more engaging:
Condense the posting down to the most important information
People naturally skim more when they read online. If you write long paragraphs with lots of details about your role, applicants will have a hard time finding information in your posting.
Instead, try to pull out what you think applicants really need to know about the role and create sections of bullet points—“Job Duties,” “Skills,” “Application Materials,” etc.—that applicants can skim to get all the information they need.
Say “preferred” instead of “required” wherever possible
When applicants see a list of five hardline qualifications in a job description, they might not apply if they’re only certain that they have four out of five. You might be thinking, “If I write the posting that way, I’ll only get the most qualified candidates to apply, right?” That may be true, but you also might get only the most confident applicants and overlook strong candidates who may have different skills that they can transfer to a role at your organization.
You’ll still have to use the word “required” sometimes in your job postings since some qualifications (like education level) are critical for certain roles. But replace it with “preferred” whenever you can. That way, you’ll have a wide range of applicants to pick from, and the best candidate might have a special skill or unique experience that wasn’t listed but will still help them succeed at your organization.
Don’t just inform people about your job—persuade them
With the amount of information available to people online today, writing a job listing that candidates will notice is more like writing an advertisement than a description. Instead of just listing information about the position and company, emphasize why an applicant should apply for your role, especially in terms of the benefits to them that they wouldn’t get in another position.
Once you’ve written your job posting, review it carefully before it goes live on your website, and make sure to promote it on other job-finding sites like LinkedIn and Indeed.
3. Make your job application pages fit with your website’s branding
Advertising your job openings to applicants isn’t limited to writing postings. Like in other areas of your organization’s marketing, branding will help your job postings stand out and draw readers in.
You can brand your job application webpages for success by focusing on these design aspects:
- Use the same logo, fonts, colors, and overall style that you use on the rest of your website. When applicants find one of your job postings, it should immediately look, sound, and feel like something your organization has written.
- Spotlight your organization’s goals and calls to action. You’ll want to add an “About This Organization” section to each job posting so that people who find your posting on other job sites will learn what you do at a glance. It’ll reinforce the connection between the posting and the rest of your website too. Also, use a bright or bold color from your brand palette to highlight any calls to action on the page, like “Apply Now!” buttons.
- Incorporate photos and videos. Multimedia content has a place on every page of your website! For example, you might embed a short video into the previously mentioned “About” section or add some photos of the day-to-day operations at your organization to a job posting. This will give applicants a better sense of whether they’ll be a good fit for your opening—and whether your opening is a good fit for them.
Besides being more noticeable when applicants first come across them, branded job postings will stick better in applicants’ minds, so they’ll be more likely to stay interested and come back to your organization’s website.
4. Be transparent about your organization’s professional offerings
In the past, many applicants tended to consider their five- or ten-year career plans when they were job hunting. But while long-term career planning isn’t dead, younger job seekers often focus more on what they can get out of a role in the near future. They’ll be drawn to jobs where they feel they can learn and grow professionally within the next year or two.
Today’s applicants also value transparency more than ever before. Having more information available to them online means they have access to more misinformation as well. So, when applicants read your job postings, they’ll be looking for a true, accurate description of the role and your organization.
Considering the two shifts in thinking mentioned above, you’ll want to be as transparent as possible about these areas of your online job postings:
- Company culture and employee perks. If the position comes with a benefits package, paid time off, or any other advantages, mention them explicitly in the posting. Also, you’ll want to specify if the job is in-person, remote, or hybrid as the latter options become more popular in many workplaces. Try to work in other aspects of the company culture if you can to give applicants a full overview of your organization.
- Professional development. Since applicants want to know how they could grow professionally at your organization, make sure to mention any opportunities for ongoing training and development they’d have in their role. Specifying if you’ll train employees on the job can add to the professional development appeal as well.
- Organizational values, including opportunities to make a difference. Since younger applicants are especially concerned about creating societal change, highlighting your organization’s values will help them see how they can make an impact in the job they’re applying for. To this end, you’ll want to show them any corporate social responsibility or employee-giving initiatives that you have in place during the application process.
If you can’t fit all these details on a job application page, link to other sections of your website that talk about company culture or corporate social responsibility within the text of the posting. Images and videos will especially help to illustrate these aspects in a transparent way.
Your organization’s website can be a powerful tool in promoting job applications if you leverage it well. An easy-to-use site design, web-friendly and branded job postings, and a sense of transparency will go a long way in streamlining the hiring process for you and for applicants. You may need to adapt these tips in some ways to work for your organization, but once you do, your next hiring push will be more likely to succeed in today’s job market.
Ryan is a co-founder of Loop: Design for Social Good who brings a strong intuition and insight to create bold, creative & impactful websites. Ryan has led design studios in Toronto and New York using his knowledge of Human Centred Design to increase meaningful conversions and design enjoyable web experiences.