You might have successfully put forward the business case for building a new careers website. Now your project is signed off and you want to see your plans for talent greatness take shape. Which makes this little article perfect for you.

92% of the ‘Top 100 UK Companies to Work For’ have a dedicated careers website. If you aspire to be seen in the same light, yours is going to need to make a strong, positive first impression with your candidates. And that’s something you’ll only get the chance to do once.

But fear not. By the end of this article you’ll know so much more about planning your next careers website. We cover what you you need to have in place before you create your brief, then the features you’ll need to consider. But before you create your brief …

Check in with your EVP

A little reflection is a key part of the process. Before you go into building mode, have you thought about the most important question of all?

“Why will people want to work for you – and not someone else?”

You don’t need us to to tell you that much has changed over the past two years. So it’s worth researching and re-defining your employer value proposition (EVP). You’ll want your careers website to convey all the good things about working for you today. Candidates will want to know what you stand for and how you work, indeed where you work. Knowing this is essential as it will help you shape the messaging on your site and influence the creative process.

We’ve written two articles that are worth reading at this stage. Our thoughts on the EVP in Understanding your employer proposition. A practical approach and 10 things to consider when re-freshing your employer brand, which will help you review where you are after all the turbulence we’ve been through.

Identify and engage your stakeholders

There will be people in your business, and probably suppliers too, who’ll need to be involved. They’ll all have valuable advice and opinions. Get them on board now – not later when you might be forced to retro-fit their needs. Assuming you’re a talent, recruitment or resourcing manager, your typical stakeholders are your marketing and brand department, IT, whoever runs your main corporate site, your ATS provider (if you have one) and don’t forget the rest of your resourcing team who will all have ideas to share. And the HR Director might just want to get involved too, if only to sign-off on the creative work.

The brief itself

Whoever you work with to build it will want a brief. Writing a brief is a very handy process to clarify your thoughts and create something all stakeholders can sign-off on. If you’ve done your thinking about your EVP, you’ll be able to include a steer on your messaging which may inform your creative process. Your developer will want to know about about your business and your target audience, your values as an organisation, what you are there to achieve, why people will want to work for you and your target audience itself, their likely values and motivations.

And what features do you want to include? Your earlier conversations with your stakeholders will have added items to your wish list. We have created a handy careers website briefing form. If you’d like us to send you a copy, please get in touch. Now, let’s look at what those features should be …

It has to work across all devices

This is really important. 55% of job seekers search for jobs daily on their mobile device so that’s a huge number to miss if your site isn’t mobile or tablet friendly. The fact that your organisation might be largely PC based doesn’t matter – you need to think externally and about the job seeker. So, include in your brief that you want the site to work on mobile and tablet as well as desktop. Whatever device the candidates use, the experience should be as rich and engaging as possible.

Deliver engaging and compelling content

Not only must it work across all devices, so must the content – and in a way that holds the candidates attention. A careers website is all about attracting and converting your candidates – which is why your content matters. Designing for mobile is also a great way of disciplining yourself to think ‘less is more’. The objective is to ’show, not tell’ the reasons why they should work for you. We cover content in a lot more depth in What makes compelling content for your careers website? Film is an incredibly effective way of delivering key content which we’ll cover next. So your brief should ask for evidence of any previous experience of making career based film.

The power of film

We firmly believe your careers website will be richer if it includes a film. For your candidates to relate to your organisation, they’ll want to relate to your people and hear their stories. Nothing does this better than by using film to showcase your employer brand. Using film allows you to show not just what people do, but what it means to them and those they do it for.

Our careers website for the Telegraph, winner of ‘Most effective employer brand development’ at the Recruiter Awards 2021, has a 90 second film that positions the purpose of The Telegraph and the importance of their people to delivering it. Find out more with the full case study Inviting media professionals to make their own story. And, for tips on producing your own film, this article does what it says A little guide to producing a compelling employer branding film.

Use authentic photography

The days of stock shots are long gone and any candidate will be able to spot them a mile off – as will your existing people who might be a tad embarrassed. So use your own people in videos and photos, it’s a must. Creating your own photography is an essential investment to deliver the authentic careers website experience that will attract the right candidates.

Take a look at our case study for Derbyshire Constabulary. All the photography features their own people which brings the site huge authenticity. The case study is also worth a look as it includes integration with their ATS, Oleeo – which brings us to a key aspect of the candidate experience – your ATS.

Make the jump to the ATS as seamless as possible

The ideal outcome from a visit to your careers website is an application from the kind of candidate you are looking for. They might not apply first time – they could well be checking out your content and having a look at your social media (more about that next) but eventually, you’ll want them to apply. But that’s when things can go pear shaped.

If your ATS experience looks and feels nothing like your careers site it can completely kill the candidate’s experience of your employer brand. It’s like going from a warm room at a party to the cold outdoors. We’ve worked with many applicant tracking systems and know how to make the integration smooth and seamless – and to ensure a consistent look and feel throughout the whole candidate journey.

Support it with a social media strategy

There’s more to a social media strategy for a careers site than having sharing buttons on every page – although sharing tools are a good thing of course. Social media is where your audience are talking and it’s where trust and engagement is built. It offers huge reach, attracts passive as well as active candidates and enables real-time and quicker recruitment. So your brief should ask for experience of being able to create an engaging social media strategy for a careers site.

Good SEF and SEO

That’s Search Engine Friendliness and Search Engine Optimisation – and your site needs both. In many of the careers website projects we’ve delivered in the past five years, search engines are contributing over 35% of all traffic to the website. What’s more, between 78% and 85% of all job searches start at Google. These are big topics and there’s not the room to do them justice here except to say that the ability to build a website that is search engine friendly and optimised is absolutely key. You’ll want Google, Bing, Google for Jobs and Indeed to all love your careers site. We dive a little deeper on the topics here: Search engines. Are you friendly? Or are you optimised?

Finally, who do you choose to help you build it?

Forgive us for putting ourselves at the top of the list here in our own article. We build careers sites. It’s what we specialise in. We know all the do’s and don’ts and all the techie things that careers sites need to work. We believe that it’s a specialist field. And while you don’t have to use us – we’d like to think you’d bear us in mind. Whoever you use, you’ll have to feel comfortable with their ability and have a good rapport with their team as you’ll be spending a lot of time together – we know!

If you feel that youd like some help, support or even a little chat around building your next careers website or any aspect of your talent attraction strategy just drop us a line. After all, much of our best work has started with a cup of tea and a Zoom call.