23 Careers Page Best Practices to Improve Conversions
Hundreds of thousands of candidates come to your career site every single month. But how many of them are actually filling out a job application? According to 2016 research from SHRM, strong career sites were converting about 8.6% of visitors into applicants. However, the last 3 years of their data had shown that the conversion rates of career sites were dropping about 11% each year.
Your Career Site is Costing You 60% More Per Applicant Than It Was In January
Because of the unique circumstances of the pandemic candidates are not interested in returning to work and the ones who are have more questions than ever. This means if you’re measuring your career site performance, your conversions are likely down across the board.
In 2020, the cost per applicant in June was 60% hirer than it was in January. In response recruiting leaders are taking another look at their careers pages to improve their performance, drive conversions, and lower their recruiting costs.
The career page best practices in this article will help you lower your cost per applicant, improve your offer acceptance rate, and lower your cost per hire. If you’re in a budget crunch, know this – working on your career page is an easy, quick, and low-cost strategy that can save you millions.
Candidates are researching your company
Candidates are researching your company. 85% of candidates say they check a company’s career page every time before applying to a role. Which means your career page needs to give candidates the information they need about your company. If it’s not easy for that information to be found, then your career site need be redesigned or use conversational AI to share that info through a chat window.
In 2018 a study found that career pages that followed best practices account for 94% more hires than they did in 2014.
- Careers page basics
- Consider your candidate persona
- Personalize your design
- Personalize your copy
- Use careers landing pages
- Piggyback on traffic
- Partner with recruitment marketing
- Do a lot with a little
- Direct the eye with color
- Hook your persona
- Qualify your visitor
- Align with the changing workforce demographics
- Show impact
- Reframe balance
- Create transparency
- Think through your job descriptions
- Information hierarchy
- Meaningful requirements
- Prioritize important roles
- Improve diversity
- Feature real employees
- Use storytelling
- Keep user intent top of mind
1. Career page basics
If you want to have a career page that’s so good that an awards gala materializes out of thin air the instant you publish it, you need to start with mastering the basics. The basics of careers page success are these. Your careers page must be persona-driven (but not your job descriptions), it must be personalized (but not your job descriptions), it must be reconfigurable to support diversity initiatives, and it must be made in partnership with recruitment marketing.
In best practices 2 through 7 we’ll follow the example of an imaginary airline company and their diversity initiative to improve “Latino/Chicano” representation in their workforce.
2. Consider your candidate persona
Your candidate persona is to your career page as Hollywood is to
moneygrubbing reboots …good movies. It’s where good ones come from. Ahem.
To create a great career page you must consider your candidate persona. How?
Take, an airline company for example. They could have 3 personas: on the air, on the ground, and in the office.
Each persona is going to need a different approach. Design, copy & user experience are all going to need to account for the way each persona looks for work. Using a persona is one of our 5 best practices for hiring millennials.
3. Personalize your design
The overall layout of the page is clearly an important design element. But it’s not what we need to personalize. The overall layout can stay the same.
Let’s take the “on the ground” person from Delta above. Hypothetically, let’s assume you’ve looked at your employee data. You’ve found that you have a great representation of every race in your on the ground roles except one – let’s say Latinos. How can you personalize your careers page design elements to make them more relevant to a Latino candidate?
You can change the pictures you use. You can add statistics about Latino/Chicano employee numbers. You can feature a story of an existing Latino employee. Creating more personalized design elements will help your careers page have more impact.
4. Personalize your copy
The words you use and the information you share on the page have just as much if not more impact as the imagery you use. Continuing with the diversity initiative page from above, it’ll be critical that you use language to tell the story of how your company is supporting inclusivity. The better and more human you make your writing – the more you’ll connect with the candidate who’s on your page.
If you didn’t know, candidates make massive unconscious judgments about your company culture sometimes just based on a few words in the job description. I haven’t found data on careers pages yet – but I can tell you that if a job description can make such an impact – I’m all in on careers pages making an even bigger impact on both the conscious and subconscious perspectives that candidates form about your company.
Now creating more personalization in copy and design is well and good. But you can’t just change the design on the main careers page constantly.
5. Use careers “landing” pages
When you make personalizations to your careers page design that are extremely specific to a subset of one of your personas – just create a separate page. This is called a “landing page.” Don’t link to this page in your main site navigation like you do your careers page.
Using a landing page for extreme personalization frees you from having to constantly overhaul your main careers page. Create as many custom career landing pages as you need! The best part is that you don’t even need to know how to code. Editor’s like WordPress are available today. They make managing your recruiting content and website a sinch.
You can create new pages with a click of a single button and in a few more steps swap imagery and copy. Remember this – more personalization = more impact and landing pages will get you there.
6. Piggyback on your main careers page traffic
When you start making a few landing pages, an issue quickly becomes clear. They aren’t getting any traffic. They won’t work if no one sees them.
The solution long term is to have links from your main careers page, which does get lots of traffic, to your specific landing pages. Take the Latino/Chicano Diversity initiative focused page from above.
Placing a link to that page from your main careers page in a noticeable way would get candidates with whom that message resonated with to click and visit (and apply)!
Also after you do this enough times you may find you’ve evolved beyond a careers page into a careers website.
7. Partner with recruitment marketing
When it comes to building traffic to your career page and career landing pages you don’t have to do the heavy lifting alone. Work with your recruitment marketing team. They’ll help you craft social media images, videos, and posts to promote your diversity-focused careers page initiative.
It’s essential for you to work closely with recruitment marketing teams to promote your careers page. If you can’t get the word out to talent – you can’t make an impact. Marketing will help you get the word out. It’s the entire reason they exist.
Now you know the basics
In the rest of this article, we’re going to look at careers pages through a microscope. It’s going to get granular.
Put a pod in your Keurig!
8. Do a lot with a little
When a candidate comes to your careers page, they decide whether they’ll stay or go in just a few seconds (if that). Give them what they’re looking for above the fold in as little words as possible. You’ve got to draw their attention, you’ve got to speak to their needs, and you’ve got to give them the opportunity to act!
Kickstarter does this well in its top section. You see this immediately when you visit their careers website. Best practices 8 through 10 break down the details of what’s happening.
If you know the right things to say and how to show them, you can get a lot done, very quickly, in just a few words.
9. Direct the eye with color
When you first open Kickstarter’s career page, the use of whitespace and color contrast instantly draws your eye to the center of the page. The bold color on the button also makes it easy to find open positions so potential candidates can get to where they need to go. In the same way, you want to provide candidates with easy access to your open positions.
If someone’s already ready to apply – don’t make them scroll. They might leave. Make sure the most important messages you have and the most important actions you want visitors to take are reinforced with color and design.
Our eyes evolved to detect color and contrast. Why? Predators.
The man who does not see the tiger is eaten by the tiger. That’s an ancient proverb. Use our evolutionary history to your advantage in your careers page.
10. Hook your persona with your first line
In Kickstarter’s headline, they immediately acknowledge their unique relationship with candidates by asking “Love Kickstarter?”.
They recognize that many times their potential candidates are their customers. This is very common for B2C businesses and employer brands.
This may not be the case with you. You need to think through what the relationship between your brand and your candidates is. But, you also need to think through the objective of the page.
Is it targeting a specific persona?
Here are some ideas for you to think through – this list is not exhaustive.
Are most of your candidates your customers? Recognize that immediately and strengthen your relationship.
Are most of your candidates Millenials? Lead with values and emphasize impact right away. With Millennials the lines between work and life are blurred.
Is this page targeting a specific persona? What does that persona care about? Is it a diversity initiative? Lead with messaging around inclusion.
11. Qualify your site visitor
Here Kickstarter shares 3 values they believe their employees should have: dedicated and creative team players. Then, they challenge their visitors by asking “Is that you?” This is really smart for 2 reasons.
By leading with values, Kickstarter starts to give the site visitor a sense for their culture. Next, the question creates an agreement. If a candidate who embodies these values reads this question, they are going to think, “Yes! That is me!”
Now, they’re hooked, qualified, and more likely to keep scrolling.
If you don’t have clearly defined values it’s crucial that you do.
I recommend you buy and read “The Program: Lessons from Elite Military Units for Creating and Sustaining High-Performance Leaders and Teams.”
It’s got great guidelines for defining core values. It’s game-changing. Give a copy to all of your recruiters too. It’s a must-read for anyone in an organization.
We may have a podcast episode about it in 2020. I’ll place a link here when it’s done.
12. Align with the changing workforce demographics
Millennials. No recruiting article or strategy discussion is complete without considering them.
By 2030, the workforce will be 75% Millenial. They are the most ethnically diverse generation ever in US history.
They care about having a positive impact on the world through their work. They have a different perspective on work-life balance.
They mistrust companies and look for transparency in the workplace. Take this into account in your copy and careers page design.
Make it appeal to the changing workforce.
13. Show impact
80% of millennials and Gen Z say making the world a better place is one of their top priorities.
Kickstarter explains how their company makes a positive impact. This section creates an emotional reaction in a candidate that’s reading it.
To help your main careers page resonate with your visitors, be sure to share how your company is making a positive impact.
If your company is associated with public good or you have any CSR programs you may even want to consider creating a landing page all about your impact.
Then add a link to it in the main careers page section where you talk about impact. Tom’s Shoes does this really well.
It’s much more compelling to show impact with graphics and videos rather than words.
14. Reframe work-life balance
Millennials have a different perspective on work-life balance than previous generations. Instead of having work separate from life, they often see work as a fluid, flexible concept. They don’t see rigid boundaries between work and life in an always-on world.
Kickstarter recognizes this by affirming that their work environment is going to provide an integrated experience. They also acknowledge that millennial employees want to have the option to participate in a culture where they can connect with their co-workers and build friendships.
15. Create Transparency
Modern candidates crave transparency. Candidate behavior is very similar to consumer behavior. This convergence is called “the consumerization of the workplace.” Candidates shop for employers like they shop for products.
They want more information about “your product” upfront. They want to be able to see salary, benefits, and even diversity numbers.
Another trend contributing to calls for transparency is the millennial workforce. Millennials trust businesses less than any other generation. Being more transparent is important to earn a millennial candidate’s trust.
Kickstarter is recognizing this call for transparency. One way they support their candidates’ transparency needs is by sharing their benefits policies upfront.
Many companies make the mistake of keeping benefit information vague.
To build trust with your visitors, let them know upfront what you have to offer.
Got a strong diversity program? Or even better, do you operate in an industry associated with low diversity?
Consider following Intel’s lead and publishing your diversity data.
16. Well Thought Out Job Descriptions
When a candidate is looking at a job description it means you’ve managed to hold their interest, you’ve built trust, and they like your company! Make sure you don’t undo your good work by dropping the ball in your job descriptions.
As you think about this part of your careers page, the same rules apply. You have to optimize the design, copy, and user experience. However, one critical idea to note is that personalization should not play a big role here.
You want to avoid adding in any copy that would call out a specific segment. At this stage, that would cause hiring biases to affect your applications.
Applying concepts from best practices 2 to 7 in your job descriptions will create unconscious bias.
17. Information hierarchy
Think about the hierarchy of your job description copy. Does it map how your candidates think about jobs?
Kickstarter has a well-organized hierarchy in their copy. It goes to team, role, and then responsibilities.
In the first section of the job description, Kickstarter provides specific information about the team the position will be a part of.
In your job descriptions, don’t just provide the team name here. Share how the team contributes to the company. Give specific information. Help candidates understand the dynamics of the team and how it supports your company
In about the role, Kickstarter uses easy to understand terms. Make sure you avoid any internal jargon. Notice they use “you” a lot here as well. Use “you” and adopt a conversational tone in your about the role sections.
Phrases like “you’ll be the primary person responsible for…” resonate with visitors much more than a phrase like “this position is responsible for…”
18. Meaningful requirements
Most about you’s have specific requirements around years of experience.
Years of experience have been proven to be a poor predictor of performance. Even worse, it can discourage candidates from applying.
Rather than years of experience or educational background – specific tools, skills, and qualities are what need to be discussed.
As we move into the future, we need to be better about evaluating candidates as people.
19. Prioritize important roles
You know what roles are hard to fill. The landing page concept enables you to prioritize hard to fill roles.
See how Intuit does it here.
Intuit has over 450 different jobs available. It’s difficult to find qualified candidates for data science roles.
So, they made a landing page for their data science role.
Then, they partnered with their recruitment marketing team to set up an advertising campaign on Google AdWords.
Combine and use the best practices in this article in a strategic way. You can get a lot out of your careers page.
20. Improve diversity
Intuit is aware that there is a diversity issue with women in technology. The recognize that women often feel that there is a bias towards men in high tech roles.
They also realize that this perception of bias and masculine culture in the organization prevents them from feeling comfortable with applying for the position.
Use your careers page to make an impact on diversity. Intuit does a great job here. They’ve allotted a page to the “Women’s Network.”
This page highlights the benefits the network brings to both the community and to female Intuit employees.
Women are often held back by unconscious bias that’s present in male-dominated cultures for male behaviors and traits and appearances.
Women’s networks like Intuit’s connect women with other women who can act as allies and help them grow their careers.
Having call outs on your career site and being thoughtful about displaying your commitment towards inclusion and diversity helps ensure that more diverse candidates feel represented in the culture.
When candidates feel they belong and would be accepted, they are more willing to apply.
21. Feature real employees
One of the most engaging features on Intel’s careers page is their team member section.
In this section, real-life employees are featured and share their stories of how they got into tech, some of their proudest moments, and their time with Intuit.
Featuring employee stories can really shine light into the realities of the company’s culture and provide transparency to applicants.
It is one of the most valuable types of recruitment marketing content you can create.
22. Use storytelling
Let’s take a look at one of Intuit’s team member’s pages. Morag Hadad’s page is a great example of using storytelling to engage visitors.
The story begins with a professional section where Morag shares how she has grown as a professional since starting with Intuit.
By using themes of growth and skills development, visitors begin to envision a workplace where they could advance their careers and be supported.
Morag also highlights how much fun she has working at Intuit and the good connections she has built with coworkers. This is important for attracting Millennial candidates.
The personal section at the bottom is another smart move. Having a personal note shows that your culture values bringing your whole self to work.
23. Keep the user intent top of mind
Anyone that’s visiting your career pages is there because they are looking for work. You always want to keep that in mind.
Wherever they are in your career pages they should be easily able to find a button to get to your jobs.
Be sure to apply the best practices you’ve learned to small nav buttons too.
Look at the screenshot in the section above.
The bright orange color of the “search jobs” button immediately catches visitors’ eyes and makes it easy to access job listings.
The copywriting just above the button “See where you could start making an impact” aligns with the current workforce’s expectations that they make an impact with their jobs.
The “you” Intuit uses gets their visitors thinking about how they would fit with the company.
Your careers page really matters
It’s where your candidates go. If someone takes the time to find and navigate to your careers page…you can bet they’re interested. They’re really interested in working specifically at your company.
They’re not just puttering around a job board applying to everything that catches their eye.
So treat your careers page with the importance it deserves. It’s where your most interested potential candidates are coming to learn about your company. Something else you may want to consider doing us using conversational AI for recruiting to engage candidates on your careers page.