Amtrak Redoing Career Site, Analytics, Brand Message, and the Whole Candidate Experience

Apr 1, 2014
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

After about a year of work, Amtrak will today relaunch both the front and back ends of its careers website, sprucing up the user experience for candidates, and moving to a new system for recruiters to manage those candidates.

It’s working on better analytics, more visuals, smoother ways of sharing job information on social media, a clearer employer brand, and an easier way for candidates to use the site from a smart phone (heck, those candidates just may be on a train).

Before now, if you went to and clicked on “careers,” you’d get a landing page that was up side-by-side with the train ticket-buying area (see graphic). If, from there, you clicked on a job search, you’d get a less-than-lovely job search page; there was also a page at that was ripe for revision.

No longer.

The old system was E-Recruit, from SAP. The new one is from SuccessFactors, which is also now owned by SAP, and which also includes the company formerly called Jobs2Web, and is now a part of Amtrak’s career site system. Confusing, I know, but the new site is less so.

The new site is based on the address (or that’ll be the portal, or home page, of Amtrak careers content. Amtrak’s Kerry Noone, previously with Sodexo, worked on the Amtrak career-site front end with both SuccessFactors and a third party implementation partner, Deloitte. A larger team at Amtrak worked on the back-end improvements.

Amtrak was already a SuccessFactors customer — and is becoming more so. Amtrak is adding HR technologies like performance management systems, as well as this new recruiting system, as well as workforce analytics — more on that in a minute.

Anyhow, as this team (Deloitte, Amtrak, SuccessFactors) progressed, it focused on some of the biggest problems with the old site. It was dated. It was down a lot. It timed out and was funky with certain browsers. “Outdated technology,” Noone says.

On the recruitment marketing side of things, she says, “there was not really any employer brand message incorporated in it. We’ve never had an employee value proposition. We’ve never had a distinct employer brand message.”

And all that while Amtrak’s ridership is growing and its workforce is aging. Around 30 percent of employees will retire in the next five years. As a result, the company is more focused on succession planning and demonstrating to both job candidates as well as current employees how it can grow their careers at the company.

The new site required a “collaborative, collegial” effort, Noone says. In other words, it’s a pretty conservative company and you need a lot of buy in. The recruiting folks had to work with the branding folks and company leaders along the way to make sure everyone was developing the employee value proposition together, and brand guidelines were honored.

What you will find at the new site is — as is now popular — more visual than the previous version: larger photos, less boring text. There are 10 mini-sites, or microsites, or, as the team working on this has been calling them, “job strategy pages.” These are sections for jobs like police department jobs or conductor jobs, a little like the concept of “job categories” Amazon has.

The user experience should be better. “The candidate really is one or two clicks away from applying,” Noone says.

There’s a social matcher, so you can look at your profile and see where you might fit at Amtrak.

The site is more mobile friendly. You can’t yet apply from a phone easily, but Noone says, “at the very least someone who is on the train can search for jobs.”

A calendar helps you see upcoming events and share them via social media. Finding a company with the right social-sharing functionality wasn’t easy, until Noone found CalendarWiz.

I mentioned analytics above. Amtrak is implementing an analytics system from SuccessFactors around the same time as it launches this site. So, for example, it’ll be able to run a campaign focused on veterans, send people to special URLs, and see how the campaign is doing in terms of views, clicks, interviews, and hires. “We can track that one link all the way down to a hire,” Noone says. Amtrak can take a look at high-potential employees, see who’s interested in what jobs, and who might be retiring soon.

Other features coming soon include a military-skills translator (similar to what other companies have done) where you’ll enter your military occupation and get matched to a job at Amtrak. And, as I alluded to above, I imagine that a “mobile apply” function isn’t far away.

Sodexo, one of Noone’s past employers, has worked on various recruiting technology systems before, so this whole process was a little familiar, and thus wasn’t too harried  … until deadlines came. It got more intense toward those deadlines (with Noone’s team making changes and fixing links over the last few hours), but Amtrak focused on the end goal, Noone says. “It’s all about the candidate experience and making it easier for them to apply.”

Some of the Related Conference Sessions at the ERE Recruiting Conference in San Diego:

  • Launching and Integrating New Recruiting Technology/Systems (Thursday, April 24, 11:15 a.m.)
  • Talent Communities, Pools, and Networks: Lessons Learned (Wednesday, April 23, 3 p.m.)
  • Transforming Your Employer Brand in the Face of Extreme Challenges (Wednesday, April 23, 3 p.m.
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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