In the not-so-distant past, a website was a “nice to have“ feature for a business. It was something that enhanced your presence online and made you seem more professional, but if it didn’t exist, no one raised an eyebrow.
Today, a company without a website will find that recruiting is nearly impossible. Even those that have a website that looks poorly maintained or unprofessional will find that the page becomes a detriment to the business over time. Not only will potential employees have a difficult time learning about the position in the first place, but they’ll probably also feel skeptical about the company.
So if you’re going to spend the money to create a company website that looks and feels legitimate, what should it entail? There are a few things to consider:
Who will be using it?
Of course you want to have potential employees in mind as you construct the site, so the platform should function as a recruiting tool. However, a corporate website can easily be multifaceted and multi-functional. While you’re reaching potential new hires, why not try to reach new clients or investors too? Tell a compelling story and you will target multiple audiences.
Who will be updating it?
Many professionals enter into their business’s web design ventures with good intentions. The site will be updated weekly with fresh content and new blogs. There will constantly be new photos for visitors to browse. Then reality sinks in and everyone in your company is busy with their day-to-day “to-do” lists, and suddenly the website hasn’t been touched in three months.
When you’re working on a company’s site, it’s important to think realistically about what will happen to the project when it’s launched. Who will update it and how often? From there, you can decide what kinds of features would be most appropriate.
Do you have the staff available to add new, weekly content, or is it better to construct a few evergreen features that can get touched monthly or even every other month and still make sense when visitors check it out? Nothing looks worse than a “New & Noteworthy” section featuring articles that came out three years ago.
The elements every website needs to succeed
Regardless of the size of your business or the industry in which you operate, there are a few elements every company’s website should include. These elements are:
A URL that’s easy to remember: Those interested in getting more information about your business should be able to type a few keywords into Google and find you. However, ideally, they should easily remember your URL and go directly to your site.
If your URL is cumbersome, you might lose interested applicants who tried to find you, but gave up somewhere along the way. Your URL is directly tied into your brand. Make sure it’s sleek and makes sense.
Clear, concise information about what your business is all about: Regardless of how well known your company is, you still need to provide basic details about who you are and what you do. Your website should tell visitors what kinds of projects you work on, what kinds of clients you take on, what your staff is like, what your goals are, what your vision and values are, and where you hope to be in the future. Never assume that everyone knows and that this information isn’t necessary.
A site that makes sense to the visitor: If you have drop-down menus filled with tabs and pages that link to other pages that link to more pages, don’t be surprised when your site doesn’t do much to bolster recruiting efforts. Ultimately, your website should be as user-friendly as possible. You want to quickly provide information to visitors in a logical way.
Contact information: If someone wants to get in touch with you, what should they do? Who is in charge of each department within your organization? Where can an interested applicant submit a resume for consideration? Put these details in a conspicuous spot on your site.
A careers section: If you’re in the market to add talent to your team, let your business’s website do some of the heavy lifting for you. Active job seekers will head to your company’s site to scope out potential career opportunities within your organization. Give them plenty of information when they arrive.
Build a “Careers” section on your site where you can elaborate beyond just a job title and a few short lines about what the position entails. Paint a picture for them about what this role is like. What kinds of projects would they be involved with should they take this job? What personality types typically do well in this role? What kind of growth potential is available? How can they apply if they’re interested?
Even if you don’t currently have any open spots within the business, use the “Careers” section to write about the types of talent you typically look for, and let interested job seekers know how they can submit their materials for consideration in the future. It’s always useful to have a stack of resumes on hand for when jobs do become available in the future.
A mobile-friendly version: It’s no secret that we’re becoming increasingly dependent on our smartphones. Consider your own usage habits. How often are you on a laptop or desktop compared to your cell phone? With this in mind, it’s important to ensure that your website looks great on any screen, from smartphone to tablet and beyond. If you really want a competitive edge, make it easy for job seekers to apply for a position within your company right from their mobile device.
Personality: Of course, your site should feel professional. You don’t want potential job seekers to wonder if the business is buttoned-up enough to sign their paychecks should they accept an offer. But there’s a difference between professional and boring.
If you truly want to recruit the best talent your industry has to offer, your business will need to set itself apart from the competition. One way to do this is by crafting engaging content to display on your company’s website.
Make sure your copy embodies your brand’s voice. Are you innovative and creative? Write like that. Are you fresh and optimistic? Make sure your content reads that way.
Put a face to the brand: Detailed descriptions about the business, its clients, and its goals are helpful, but ultimately, potential new hires want to know what their experience would be like if they got an offer to join your organization. Help them put a face to the brand. Show pictures of actual employees in the office, playing in the company-wide softball league, or at a conference together.
You can also give your team a chance to contribute to the site in the form of an employee blog. It could be informative, with employees giving their insights on industry trends, or more light-hearted and focused on what’s new around the office. This takes your business’s site to the next level and adds a human element. Suddenly, it becomes much easier for a job seeker to imagine themselves coming to work each day at this office.
While the copy you include on your site should be carefully constructed, there’s no need to limit yourself simply to words as you try to give potential employees a sense of what your business is all about. Many professionals find that putting together a visual element is a more powerful way to give a three-dimensional look at your brand. For example, you could include a video that shows footage of the office, your employees, and what daily life is like.
Show clips of meetings, brainstorming sessions, and employees goofing around in the cafeteria. Include a photo gallery featuring pictures of events or tradeshows your business has put on, awards you’ve won, and employees at work. A mixture of candid and professional shots works well, and they can be updated throughout the year as new events come up.
How to make sure potential employees are finding your new site
Once you create a new site that you’re proud of, one that’s filled with engaging content, up-to-date images, and enough personality to really illustrate what your brand is about, it’s time to shift your focus. It’s great to spend time and attention on your business’s website, but this energy can feel like a waste if no one ends up visiting it. So what can you do to ensure that your organization’s website shows up easily during a Google search?
Focus on quality content: Google constantly changes its algorithms and has become even more focused on the text that appears on your site when it considers rankings. In years past, you could focus solely on building a beautiful website; the content was an afterthought. Today, you need to worry about both design and content if you want your site to rank well on Google and other search engines. If you’re not sure that you have the in-house capability to create the quality content necessary for the site, consider outsourcing the writing project to a freelance copywriter.
Get specific with your keywords: Most people understand that rankings are all about keywords. You want to target these phrases in your content, your headlines, and even in your image tags. However, if the keyword you’re targeting is massive, you’re probably going to be joining millions of other businesses in clamoring for a good position when someone searches for this keyword.
Because of this, it’s often wiser to get narrow with your keywords. Instead of hoping to rank well when someone searches for “marketing,” you might focus your efforts on ranking well when someone searches for “small business marketing in Dallas,” instead.
Make sure there’s not too much Flash: Flash can make a website look aesthetically pleasing to a visitor. Unfortunately, the robots that scan the site and decide where it should end up on a search engine’s rankings have a notoriously hard time processing it. As a result, you might fall to the lower portion of a list if your site is peppered with Flash animation. There are plenty of ways to make a site pop visually, without relying too heavily on a Flash component.
Give it some time: If you build a brand new site, launch it, and expect to show up on every search engine within 24 hours, you’ll be in for a significant disappointment. You’ll need to give it time for your new site to appear on these various search engines. That’s why it’s best to build and launch the site significantly before you need to begin using it as a recruiting tool.
In some instances, sites that don’t rank well have issues with the way they were coded when they were first designed. They might also not be communicating with search engines properly.
If you’ve got a site that’s not too Flash-heavy, is filled with great content, and has been around for a while, yet still isn’t ranking well on search engines, it’s probably worth having a conversation with a professional web designer. They can offer technically proficient feedback about what you can do to ensure that your site is getting the attention of top tier talent in your industry, rather than getting buried under billions of other webpages.
While creating or redesigning your business’s website can seem like a massive undertaking, it’s important to understand the significance of the time investment. The site can act as a powerful recruitment tool for potential new employees. Add a “Careers” section, and suddenly you can offer detailed information about open positions within your business.
Build a portal where interested individuals can submit resumes and cover letters, and you can collect materials from active job seekers, regardless of whether you have an open job. This makes hiring much easier the next time you have a spot to fill. The site also assists with branding, as it allows you to highlight the company’s voice, vision, and employees. Develop a site with a clear plan in mind and you’ll find that tech-savvy job seekers are glad to put it to use.
What are some other ways to improve your company career site? Share in the comments below!