How to design a careers site with real impact.
Beyond job ads: why you really need a careers website.
Tell your story, your way. Just don’t ignore what candidates actually want to hear.
So, how do you attract top talent through your careers site?
Focus on your users, not your investors.
Building your careers website into the candidate journey.
Think about the bigger picture. Don’t design it in silo.
Top 5 tips for building a careers website with real impact.
Go big or go bust. Ditch the sales pitch and be authentic.
How to know your site is hitting the mark.
Data, data, and more data.
Beyond job ads: why you really need a careers website
Your careers site is the one place you can truly control the narrative around your brand, what you do, and why you’re worth working for. It’s the shop window people want a sneak peek in, and it should paint enough of a picture to get them through the door.
While advertising jobs is obviously important, candidates want to see much more than a list of your latest vacancies. They want to deep dive into your culture, values and purpose — because that makes working for you more appealing than anywhere else.
Working with you on your EVP, Employer Brand and translating that into a slick website is all part of our solution and consultancy model.
Keep up with candidate expectations.
Over the past few years, the world has opened up and we’ve seen a monumental shift in how people view work. LinkedIn reported a 54% increase in the number of members globally who’ve changed jobs, year over year since the pandemic. People are reassessing what they really want, and flexible choices have become an expectation rather than a privilege.
Candidates don’t need to choose a job based on a short commute and decent salary anymore. They can now work pretty much anywhere, for anyone — so why would they work for you?
When candidates visit your careers site, they’re looking for something that tells them you’re worth switching jobs for. They want to see that you care about your people and have a credible employee value proposition that will help them thrive in role, work towards career goals and hang around long enough to make a difference.
What candidates really care about
Having a clear purpose sets a strong strategic direction for your business. It also helps you appeal to candidates who care about the impact you have on the world and the initiatives they could support while working for you.
Not everybody wants to, or has the potential to, change the world. But knowing that the work they’re doing for you could potentially contribute to saving lives, reducing carbon emissions or helping solve societal issues is very appealing.
Even with a looming global recession and mass layoffs, people are choosing the uncertainty of navigating the job market over working somewhere that doesn’t align with their values. Employees are willing to walk away from a stable job in search of more satisfying, purpose-driven work.
Net zero campaigners, Supercritical, found that two-thirds of people are more likely to work for a company with strong and meaningful environmental policies, and 35% are willing to quit if their employer doesn’t take ‘adequate action’ to reduce its carbon footprint. For those aged 18-24 years, that rises to 53%.
The need for purpose cannot be underestimated. It’s time for organisations to put their money where their mouths are if they want to appeal to, hire and retain the best talent.
LinkedIn has seen an 83% increase in job posts mentioning ‘flexibility’. It’s probably the most over-used word in job ads today and it’s definitely something candidates look for, but it also causes some debate.
The irony is that a lot of organisations talk about flexibility, then share very rigid rules around what that means for them. Promoting flexible working and being prescriptive about how many days everyone should be in the office is about as inflexible as you can get.
If you’re serious about offering flexibility, let your people decide what that means for them. Flexible working agreements rely on autonomy and trust, on both sides. By focusing on output rather than time spent on a task, you can empower your team to make the decision for themselves about how they complete their work and achieve their objectives.
As well as being one of the biggest priorities for candidates, the issue around flexible working is a hot topic for the UK government too. They’ve agreed to offer more protection to employees who will soon be able to request flexible working from day one of employment, rather than after 26 weeks in role.
And the evidence suggests it makes good business sense.
According to Forbes, nearly half of companies taking part in the 4-day week trials have seen productivity improvements. 34% said it had “improved slightly”, 15% say it “improved significantly” and 46% think is has stayed the same.
If you’re hiring someone with highly specialist skills, they’ll want to know how you’re going to put those skills to use. The opportunity to grow personally is as important as the opportunity to progress through your business.
So how do you show a candidate they’ll thrive with you? Share real stories from current team members, detail their experiences before they joined and how you’ve supported them in training and developing on the job. Talk about your graduate scheme: what happened to grads in the 2, 3, 5 years after they completed the scheme? What do you have in place to fast-track top talent?
This is all about showing, not telling. The more authentic you can be and the more real people you can feature, the more compelling and believable your story becomes.
All of this is reliant on you taking action and truly supporting employees to grow and develop the way they want. The businesses that will come out on top over the next couple of years will commit to taking action, building a strong employer brand and evolving their employee value proposition to meet the needs of today’s market.
So, how do you attract top talent through your careers site?
This bit really isn’t rocket science, but it’s amazing how many careers sites miss the mark.
1. Build it based on user behaviour.
If you get back to the basics of why people are actually visiting your site, it usually comes down to two things: they want to do something or know something.
apply for a job, track progress of an application.
understand what you offer on top of salary and pension, research your flexible working policy, look at how diverse your board is, review ESG ratings.
If you tailor your website to prioritise job ads (like many do), it’s only really doing half a job for you — and could potentially put candidates off applying in the first place. But if you’ve properly invested in building a strong employer brand, you should already have compelling stories to tell. Make it authentic, lead with purpose and people will naturally want to read your ads and apply for a job with you. Just don’t make that the first thing you push.
2. Invest in a powerful homepage.
On average, you have less than 15 seconds to give users a reason to stay on your website. It’s likely the majority of your traffic will be coming through the homepage, so it plays a huge role in setting the tone and engaging users.
Your homepage should be clean, well-structured and easily direct users to the content they’re looking for. It’s also your chance to really show off your personality. How do you want potential candidates to see you? If you want them to think you’re bold and innovative, make sure that’s reflected in the content you share, and the imagery and colours you use.
3. Don’t try to please stakeholders or investors.
You want to hire top talent, right? Target your content to them. Some stakeholders or investors will see your careers website as a space for them to tell their version of your story, but candidates don’t want to hear investor pitches or have an in-depth introduction to your bottom line.
They really want to know:
- What your expectations are, and how you support employees in meeting them.
- What progression looks like.
- What flexible working really means.
So show them that.
Building your careers website into the candidate journey
A big mistake we see people make when designing a careers website is to assume people are starting from a point of no knowledge. It’s your job to look at your website as part of an overall talent engagement strategy, map out the candidate journey and work out what information needs to be shared at each stage of the process rather than trying to cram everything in at every point.
How did someone get to your website? They could’ve been sent a link from a talent partner, clicked on a paid social ad, or Googled you on someone’s recommendation.
They could be actively looking for a new job, or they may just be browsing. They may even be a real brand advocate who desperately wants to work for you and checks back periodically to see if you’re hiring for any relevant positions.
The fact is, you just don’t know any of that yet. Understanding what drives your candidates, researching the market, putting prototypes of your website in front of real users and using tracking tools to see how users navigate it will give you the insight you need to build a powerful, relevant end-to-end candidate experience.
Top 5 tips for building a careers website with real impact
1. Go big or go bust.
Your careers website should be big, powerful and inspiring. It could be the first chance to set the tone of what you do with the future talent you need. Create authentic content that brings your employee value proposition and employer brand to life.
An amazing example of this is Lowercarbon Capital’s website. It takes all of 3 seconds to work out what they’re about — and their hard-hitting message about “buying us time to unf**k the planet” (which is backed up through action) makes you want to dig deeper.
2. Deep dive into research.
Your website can’t (and shouldn’t) be everything to everyone, so you need to really know who’s visiting and what they want to get from it.
If you were building a website for a client or developing a product for them, you’d need to show a return on the investment, and the same applies to your own website. If you’re going to build something, you need to be confident it’s what people want.
If you’ve done the right work to develop your EVP, you should have a pretty good idea of what your target audience wants. Using that research and building on it to gain a deeper understanding of why people visit your website, what they expect to see and how they interact with it will set you on the right track.
3. Be authentic.
If your business is young and innovative, don’t make your careers website corporate and boring. Avoid an overly formal tone, too. Nobody speaks like that, so they certainly don’t want to read in that way.
And if you stand for something, talk about it. Being bold about your position in the market, your ambitions and your reason for existing will give you far more credibility than generic corporate fluff.
We know it’s a lot easier said than done when you have investors involved who are more risk averse and will likely have set ideas about how they want your business to be represented. The best way to challenge this is to share the insights you’ve gathered. Show them feedback from user testing sessions where potential candidates review your careers website and talk about what they want to see. It’s hard to argue against genuine insight like that.
4. Ditch the sales pitch.
It’s very unlikely someone’s stumbled across your careers site by accident. They’ve already made a conscious decision to be there, so overloading them with a sales pitch is just not necessary (and could be a real turn off).
People want a true perspective of what it’s like to work for you, not your ambitions. Hearing aspirational stories from the CEO doesn’t impress anymore. Candidates want to see the reality of what it’s like to work in your organisation, from people they can relate to. And if they don’t get what they need from your website, they’ll look elsewhere — LinkedIn, job review sites — or other employers.
5. Nail your tech.
The way candidates experience your careers site is just as important as the content you put on it. If you claim to be an innovator but pages take too long to load or aren’t accessible, you’ll send a strong message that you don’t necessarily practice what you preach (even if that’s not true).
You also need to make sure tagging and analytics are in place so you learn from the people interacting with your website and can adapt as you go. With a decent Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) system, you can also track how they’re moving from one channel to another and understand what they’re doing when they get there.
How to know your careers site is hitting the mark.
Now is the time to scrap any metrics around visitor numbers as a measure of success. What you really need to know is that the right people are visiting your website and getting what they need from it.
The best company careers websites deliver a high interview-to-offer ratio that shows their website and wider talent acquisition strategy are working. This is where research and data become a critical part of your process.
Understanding your target audience and tracking their application journey (and success rates) should be all you really care about. It’s what will tell you if your website is doing its job, or if drastic change is needed. It could also highlight gaps elsewhere in the process that you’re not even aware of yet.