It seems that every day I hear more examples from employers about how difficult it is to hire right now.
We have the lowest unemployment in 10 years, more jobs going unfilled than ever, and a record high on the amount of time it takes to hire—nearly 30 days. Employers are constantly looking for ways to get an edge, but I don’t see many of them using the techniques I use every day as an online content marketer.
Instead, I see the same tired, bullet-pointed lists of requirements and qualifications that offer no good reason why a potential applicant should choose one company over any other.
Here are some simple techniques for researching your audience, improving SEO, and providing information that matches what your potential applicants want to see most. If you’re looking for more on how to hire the best candidates for your business, check out my article on recruiting hacks to help you hire top talent.
Know how to sell your company culture
Why should someone want to work for your company?
In an era when job boards are teeming with jobs, what are you offering that will get someone’s attention? You want to be able to answer these questions on your career page with concrete details about your company culture and policies.
Avoid cliches that any company can use to describe itself, like “we value our employees.” Instead, do some research and learn exactly what people in the roles you hire for want and don’t want to see in their ideal job.
Start by going to Glassdoor and searching job titles you hire for, but leave the location field blank. Now click on one of the companies that hires for this position in the left column, then click “reviews” in the center to see what employees have said about a particular company.
In these reviews, you’ll see “cons,” or things that employees didn’t like. Read these for several different companies until you have a list of at least five complaints that come up repeatedly that you can turn into “pros” about working at your company.
So, for example, if you’ve got several people complaining about having to work holidays, and you give holidays off, that’s a “pro” that responds directly to something your potential employees are saying they care about. It’s information that you’ll be able to use on your careers page and in job posts, as I’ll demonstrate.
Next, look inward. Talk to your employees and find out what they love most about the job and your company’s perks—the equipment, facilities, location, their co-workers, and so on. They’re likely to have some great insights that you might not have considered.
Finally, go to Google and search again for specific job titles. For example, if you’re hiring receptionists, search for “receptionist jobs.” If the job is in demand where you live, you’ll see advertisements at the top of the search, like this one:
Google ads are usually well-researched and constantly tested. So showing the pay range, “hiring immediately,” and “no experience needed,” are proven to get results. This is great info you can use on your career page and in job descriptions.
Some companies hesitate to include compensation information job postings. But, when advising clients, we almost always recommend that they post the pay range for every position.
First, it discourages people who want more than you can afford from applying. This is good. You don’t want a great candidate going all the way through your hiring process only to find out when you make the offer that you can’t afford them.
Second, imagine an applicant who’s already got a job, and is considering yours. This is a very likely scenario when we’ve got low unemployment rates. Even if you’ve got a solid careers page that points out all the reasons your company is great to work for, potential applicants might balk without a pay range. Applying for a job is not something a good applicant takes lightly. It may mean a thorough polishing of their resume and LinkedIn profile, multiple interviews, and the upheaval that comes with leaving one job and starting another.
If applicants can’t be sure that the pay range at least matches what they’re currently making, they’ll be hesitant to apply. Like you, they don’t want to go through a long hiring process only to find out there’s a financial gap that can’t be crossed.
Create a careers page that works like a recruiting agency
OK, let’s start putting your research to work.
We’re going to start by applying it to the basic SEO of your careers page so it is easier for potential employees to find you using search, and more attractive for them to click through to your careers page and application.
Not familiar with SEO? It stands for “search engine optimization.” In the context of a careers page, it means providing information in a way that makes it easy for search engines to understand what your page is about. Your goal is to be as close to the top search results as possible, so that people are more likely to see and click on your page. It starts with customizing your metadata; depending on how your website works, you may be able to easily do this yourself, or you might need to talk to a webmaster or an IT person about helping with the updates.
Let’s take a look at 23andMe’s careers page. Say I was interested in getting a job with them and did a search like “23andme jobs” on Google.
These are the first two results I see:
The first result is 23andMe’s careers page, which is great, but 23andMe is by no means putting their best foot forward in terms of their metadata. You’ve got a meta title: “Careers – 23andMe” that uses only 17 of the 55 characters they have to work with. This space could be used to better entice searchers to click and view the page. For example, it could say: “23andMe Jobs—Browse Our Job Openings and Apply.” It’s not poetry, but it makes use of the space.
Now let’s look at the meta description, the paragraph that appears below the title in search results. In this case, it starts with an “and” and lacks context and relevance for anyone who has never visited their site. After that, you’ve got a big link to their “Sorry, that position is no longer available” page, and a link to their general application. None of it is very exciting, and it doesn’t feel very relevant.
Now, look at the second search result from Glassdoor, a web service that companies pay to publicize their job openings and drive applications. Glassdoor’s search result tells you exactly what you can do if you click their link—search job openings at 23andMe. You also learn that they’ve got 49 jobs available and that Glassdoor will give you salaries, ratings, and so on.
Which link would you be more likely to click on? While being in the top search result position probably gets 23andMe more clicks, I’ll bet they’re losing a lot to Glassdoor’s superior meta title and meta description. That means 23andMe is missing out on a lot of organic traffic to their website and plenty of no-cost applications submitted through their own website.
Updating their meta title and description would not only make 23andMe look more professional but likely save them money as well.
Here’s a basic template you can use for your meta title: Careers at [company name]—see our open positions and apply. Here’s one for the meta description: Browse new job openings on [company name]’s official careers page. We offer [three things your research has shown potential employees are interested in, such as flexible schedules, competitive pay, and opportunities for advancement.] Apply today! Keep the meta description under 160 characters, or Google will cut it off.
Now do a search for “[your company’s name] jobs.” Do you have irrelevant links coming up, like 23andMe’s “Sorry” page? If so, you’ll need to NoIndex those pages. Again, depending on how your site works, you may need to ask for IT help on that.
On your career page itself, think about the best way to arrange information. At the top, you’ll want to tell job seekers about your company and culture. Use the data that you collected earlier to highlight the positives. You’ll also want social media follow buttons so that people who visit but don’t find a job that fits them can stay in touch. Ideally, the social media buttons would connect them to careers-specific social media accounts that exist mainly to share information about open positions and company culture.
Additionally, you’ll of course want links to the individual jobs you’re hiring for on your careers page, along with short descriptions of each job. The links should be the position title, with at least one detail that attracts applicants.
The careers page listing for a receptionist job might be:
Receptionist—earn $14-$18 per hour. No experience needed.
Come work at our beautiful new office with a top notch staff, earn great pay, and train on the job. Learn more about the job and apply today!
Each individual job posting should focus even more on the benefits of the job, and why applicants will love working for your company, while only mentioning the absolutely necessary requirements. If you’re interested, Betterteam offers job description templates you can use to create postings for the most popular jobs.
The individual job postings should also have buttons that make it easy to share the post via social, email, and text message. For better social media marketing, be sure to write separate social meta descriptions. Most website platforms have plugins that allow you to write separate meta descriptions for social media. In WordPress, for example, you can use the Yoast SEO plugin.
So, for example, the Twitter social meta description for our receptionist position might be a 140 character version of the brief job description from our main careers page, and it probably includes hashtags like #jobs, #receptionist, and #officejob. This way, if someone shares your job on social media, the text that appears automatically on someone’s Twitter wall is already optimized for social.
Finally, for best exposure, your careers page should be on a mobile-friendly site. This is a basic web standard now, and Google rewards mobile sites with better rankings, but I’m still surprised at how many career pages look awful and are difficult to navigate from a mobile screen.
Ultimately, if you’re ready to hire, don’t neglect your company website. Following these tips should increase your applicants, and once it’s done, should have a long-term payoff.