Online Candidates’ Expectations: Content and Tools

Nov 12, 2001

Visitors to your corporate careers website are a demanding bunch. They are the ones holding the mouse. To get them to commit to becoming a candidate, you need to provide them with the right information and tools. What do recruitment managers need to know about the expectations of careers website visitors? iLogos Research found out in a recent poll of more than 1,500 visitors to the corporate careers Web sites of Fortune 500 companies. A corporate careers website is an instrument to communicate with online candidates. In any communication, the key is to communicate the right information in a way that has the greatest impact on the targeted audience. Topics that jobseekers expect to see addressed on the careers website include the company’s employment culture, benefits, and salary information. Culture Survey results reported in Perception vs. Reality: Jobseeker Behavior Online show 58% of survey respondents indicated that a depiction of a company’s culture is either “important” or “very important.” However, survey respondents were nearly equally divided on whether they consider testimonials from current employees to be important (36%), neutral (30%), or unimportant (34%). Opinions also diverged on the importance of video or virtual tours of a company’s facilities and offices, with the opinion that such practices are not important (38%) narrowly prevailing over the view that virtual tours are important (29%). Although there is no single magic bullet when it comes to developing content, jobseekers appreciate its availability. Topics that could be developed further include: HR awards the company has received, the company’s management style, its views on the work-life balance, its initiatives in training and development, and the possibilities for advancement within the company. Benefits Online jobseekers are unequivocal in their interest in information on a company’s benefits package. The iLogos survey results show that nearly half of all jobseekers (49%) consider it “very important” to have benefits information available on a company’s careers website. A further one third (33%) consider benefits information to be “important.” For benefits information, the content should be well adapted to the online medium rather than duplicating material from the company’s orientation package and other printed material. The information may be presented in a self-service structure, with links to follow for in-depth information concerning coverage, deductibles, eligibility, dates when coverage begins, or matching contributions. Salary Another expectation of online jobseekers is to be informed in job postings of the salary range for the position. Forty-five percent of respondents to the consider a salary range to be “very important” information; 35% consider it “important” information. For their part, 61% of candidates are willing to provide their salary requirements. Although providing salary range information has not always been common practice, the proliferation of online salary surveys and sites has made compensation data easily accessible – and heightened jobseeker’s expectations. Tools Once the casual job surfer is ready to become a serious prospect, the right tools must draw that candidate into an ongoing relationship with the company. These tools include a well-designed job search feature, and an easy to use job application interface.

  1. Job search. The job search feature is a core component of a careers website, shouldering one of the major “front-end” functions: to help the job seeker quickly and efficiently identify a suitable job position. The survey found a clear preference among jobseekers for simple and intuitive searches. When asked to indicate how they prefer to review job listings, 58% of respondents indicated “by job category”; 56% selected “by job location.” Conversely, a very small minority (19%) indicated a preference for constructing keyword searches. To align the careers website with jobseekers’ expectations, companies should at a minimum provide tools for filtering a database of open positions by selecting from a predetermined list of job functions and locations, where the results represent the conjunction of the two criteria. To meet this requirement, the back-end requisition database must be structured to reflect the occupation, location, and function of each job position in the organization.
  2. Applying online. E-recruitment managers, very familiar with their sites’ navigation and functionality, can easily assume that using the careers website is intuitively obvious to all jobseekers. Though the goal of website design is to have a user-friendly and intuitive interface, it is important not to neglect clear instructions, tips to new users, and FAQ pages. The iLogos survey found that 88% of online candidates want instructions available on how to apply. Since submitting a job application through a careers website is potentially the first step in a multi-step process, the instructions and details provided online should be much broader than simply how to use the site. Use the opportunity to describe the company’s overall recruiting process and inform candidates on what to expect.
  3. Communication. Candidates’ expectations extend beyond the careers website. Nearly every candidate (99%) expects some form of follow-up communication from the company after applying online to a job position. However, the iLogos study found differing expectations on the nature of the follow-up. Two-thirds (68%) of candidates expect the next step of the recruiting process to be an email acknowledgement; personalized email is favored over an automated response by a factor of two to one. Twenty-two percent of candidates expect a follow-up from a recruiter by phone. Only 9% expect a letter by postal mail. These results clearly show that candidates expect two things: speed and personalization. These two criteria are in some ways antithetical to one another, because satisfying one comes at the expense of satisfying the other. The challenge for recruiters is to meet both of these criteria at once, through automated but personalized communication.

Conclusion The overall message is clear: online jobseekers expect high-quality content, good usability, and consistent communication. The careers website is a tool for communicating with candidates. Optimizing its role should be done with knowledge of the specific expectations and preferences of its target audience.

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