Reinventing Your Career Site: How One Company Did It and Won Big

Eighty percent of all job searches lead back to what is often the first place candidates will interact with your employment brand — your career site. Career sites are critical for capturing candidates and building pipelines, yet a surprising number of companies don’t fully optimize them or aren’t aware of how candidates are even experiencing their sites, resulting in missed opportunities.

The rules are changing in the digital space, and what worked yesterday may not work today. Blending research from career sites we built, and a case study of a top company that completely overhauled its career site, this article looks at different factors that can make or break your career site’s performance.

The Job Details Page — A Candidate’s Main Point of Interest

Candidates today use up to 16 different resources to search for jobs; only 7.5 percent of candidates who visit a career site from another source actually land on the main career site first. (By the way, this and other statistics in this post are based on reviewing 124 million candidate actions in over 5,000 career sites, in 32 languages, and 152 countries. We’ve monitored our clients sites since launching Talent Network and use that for our research in candidate behavior.) The candidate journey from other sources actually starts on the job details page. This is where you convert or lose candidates, and the best way to do this is by making things simple, compelling, transparent, and user-friendly.

Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises is a leading restaurant group based in Chicago that owns over 100 restaurants nationwide and employs over 7,000 workers. Although it is well-known as a top employer, it was struggling to convert applicants from their career site. Lettuce wanted to get the most bang for its buck, so it invested time and resources in its job details pages first. It strives to create job titles that are clear and free of internal abbreviations, and are clear about the location of each position. It also includes company highlights and provide clear navigation to other pages that provide relevant company information — all efforts that have increased applications.

The Main Career Page — Smart Branding Required

Beautiful branding, scrolling images, and relevant content all serve an important purpose in showcasing the employment experience at your company, but sometimes less is more. For example, videos can help to tell your story, but only 1.3 percent of candidates actually choose to watch them. Focus efforts on producing engaging headlines and images with succinct messaging that quickly gets to the heart of why you’re a great company to work for. Make sure the site can be easily navigated and is accessible from mobile devices. And, as every page is a chance to engage, be sure to invite visitors to join your talent network.

Lettuce is constantly challenged with finding the right talent for its unique restaurant brands, as its previous site didn’t accurately convey the company’s culture, variety of restaurant brands, food-driven approach, and contemporary style. Lettuce set out to design a site that showed off their not only the Lettuce corporate brand but also the 60 different concepts. It wanted to showcase its dedication to finding talent that would fit with its culture of caring, convey its commitment to inclusion, and help its hire the type of talent it needed to succeed in its continued growth.

The Talent Network — Re-engagement is Key

Once you get their attention, you need to keep it — and automation (intelligent matching technology that engages with candidates in your pipeline once relevant positions open up) is a key part of that process. Eighty percent of candidate visitors will join a talent network if prompted, and 85 percent of candidates will also leave a resume — even if they have already applied to a position. On average, candidates apply to positions 63 days after they have joined a talent network.

Previously, Lettuce did not have a talent network and started from scratch each time a new position was opened. This caused it to miss out on engaged candidates who had previously expressed interest in working for the company, dramatically increasing post-to-hire time. After creating the talent network, complete with branded emails and optimizing engagement efforts, approximately 11,000 applicants joined after only six months.

The Application Path — Candidates Are Consumers

Stellar career sites are obsessed with the candidate experience — candidates are consumers who expect and are entitled to an easy experience. Ninety-five percent of candidates may drop off if your job application is more than two pages long, especially if they’re viewing it from a mobile device. Most applicant tracking systems and recruitment software tools come with a predetermined, generic career site and application process that job seekers don’t respond well to. With no easy process to leave basic contact information, subscribe to job updates through email, or actually apply to a job — candidates become frustrated, and most will leave and never return. While we all understand the need for compliance and the purposes our recruitment technologies serve, do your best to think about the candidate experience.

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Focusing on creating an intuitive, candidate-friendly application path has been one of the most dramatic changes for Lettuce. Its previous career site did not have an application process for hourly applicants; instead, candidates had to email a resume or physically go into the restaurants to apply. After cutting down the barriers to obtain more candidates and implementing an easy application process that allowed candidates to quickly apply to an open position, it received nearly 15,000 expressions of interest, and filled roles that were challenging to fill before.

Monitor, Measure, and Evolve

Track your results. Monitor visits, bounce rates, and unsubscribes, and watch what pages candidates interact with the most and measure their time on the site. Most importantly, map your specific target talent’s journey (get candidate feedback!) with your brand and make changes to increase conversion. Data is king — without these insights, it’s impossible to make impactful change to your recruiting process. Christine Hill, director of recruiting at Lettuce, regularly looks at data and makes adjustments where needed.

Candidates are more empowered in their job search than ever before, and recruiting the right talent for your organization is no easy task. The complex candidate journeys we see today demand that employers give themselves the best possible opportunity to connect with candidates in a meaningful, thoughtful way. Implementing a well-designed career site that matches candidate behavior can help you quickly hire more quality candidates and build your talent pipeline for the future.