Recruitment Websites - How to keep your content from crashing
By Paul Quinn, © 2002
In part one of this three part series about the most common
recruitment agency website mistakes, we take a look at some
of the problems that can occur with website content and
we provide a number of practical measures you can take to
Where agency websites go wrong
At Quinntessential we've spent hours online searching for
recruitment agency websites that illustrate best practice,
web-content principles. After reviewing hundreds of sites,
we found that those that fail to deliver often do so because
they make a few fundamental errors.
Outlined below is a list of seven common website content
pitfalls to avoid to increase both the value and effectiveness
of your recruitment website.
1. Not Enough Stickiness.
This is undoubtedly one of the most common recruitment agency
website weaknesses. If you rely on fresh job content as
the sole reason for visitors to return to your site, the
job boards will win every time. One page of resume and interview
tips is not enough to keep your visitors coming back for
more either, so think about what content you need to engage
your site visitors and encourage them to interact with you.
Find out what interests your target audience, take a look
at the content your competitors are offering and brainstorm
ways of offering useful content that can't be found anywhere
else. Consider adding bulletin boards, online chat rooms
or online visitor polls to your site. Or perhaps offer an
'Ask the expert' section or weekly employer profiles.
A good example of sticky content used to be found at www.candlerecruit.com/salaryzone where a unique 'interactive' salary survey called SalaryZone
attracted nearly 14,000 salary entries from site visitors
in less than 20 months. The salary tool has also helped
to drive a significant amount of traffic to the Candle job
search engine from candidates that originally came to the
Candle site to participate in the Salary survey. (NB: Now a new and improved version of SalaryZone is available via LiveSalary - visit http://www.livesalary.com.au/Advertise/Your-Own-Salary-Portal.aspx.
2. Shovelling Print Online.
"We've already spent time writing a print brochure,
annual report, and capability statement. Why rewrite?"
Because print materials don't usually work online. Reading
on screen is slower and information is harder to absorb
than reading printed, hardcopy material. Eyetracking studies
by Stanford University and The Poynter Institute reveal
that website visitors are three times more likely than newspaper
readers to limit in-depth reading to brief passages. Even
those who do 'read' a whole article rarely absorb more than
75% of text.
Clearly, if online reading differs so radically from offline
reading, your web copy has to follow suit. Make your copy
easier to browse by...
· Highlighting key words
· Framing concepts as bullets
· Opening with your strongest point
And make your copy more concise by...
· Keeping headlines simple and direct
· Restricting each paragraph to a single idea
· Cutting your normal word count by 50%
3. What About Me?
Take some time to assess your site's copy against the 'What's
In It For Me?' rule. Too many recruitment agency websites
are riddled with "We this" and "Our that"
yet when it comes down to it what people are really interested
in is them, and how your agency can help them get where
they want to be. In replacing words such as "us",
"we" and "our" with words such as "you"
and "your", your site begins to speak a language
that your readers really value.
4. Poorly Written Job Ads.
The majority of candidates that frequent your site will
probably look at your jobs at some point during their visit.
Therefore, it makes sense to focus on ensuring your ads
are both well written, easy to find and up-to-date. The
most common weaknesses with job ad copy is the lack of detail
about 'must have' skills and qualifications, and ad copy
that doesn't sell the benefits of the role (again, the What's
In It For Me? rule applies). A recent participant in Quinntessential's
"Optimising Online Recruitment Advertising" workshop
achieved a 350% increase in responses from Seek merely by
reconstructing her advert to cover the key selling points
first and by writing from the candidate's viewpoint. Furthermore,
she filled the role within a week of rewriting her ad because
the quality of candidate applications was high.
5. Is Your "Mission" Impossible To Find?
"Who is this company? What do they do?" Some sites
make it extremely hard to figure out who or what the company
does. Remember that many visitors come to your site from
somewhere else in cyberspace. The link or search engine
that sent them to you probably did not explain who you are
or what you offer. Visitors may also be directed to different
sections of your site, sidestepping your home page where
you spelled out your 'reason for being'. Orient your visitor
by providing useful written signposts throughout your site.
Make sure each page includes your tagline, or a short, descriptive
6. Best Before 1/1/2003.
With all the enthusiasm and best intentions in the world,
many newly launched sites publish "Newsletter Volume
One" only to neglect to publish issues two onwards.
Outdated content will drive people away, leaving the impression
that your site is stale and no one's "minding the store."
Plan regular content updates by creating an 'editorial calendar'.
Also consider adding a "What's new" area on the
homepage to reinforce to site visitors that you regularly
update your site.
7. Putting Your Main Message Two Screens Down.
Web users are typically busy and easily distracted. They
want the bottom-line up front, on the first screen. You
can't count on your visitors clicking or scrolling through
several screens of background information to get to the
content they need. The McKinsey Quarterly website (visit: http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/)
demonstrates an effective way to overcome this. Users are
offered an "At A Glance" overview of each article
plus a "Take Away" summary to help users decide
up front whether or not to spend their time clicking through
to read the full article.
In short, success in achieving ROI from your site depends
on your ability to deliver relevant and engaging content
to your site visitors. In avoiding the pitfalls highlighted
above you'll go a long way to understanding what people
are looking for and establishing the most effective way
to deliver it.
Appendix Table: Why invest in compelling website content?
> Generate increased referrals and positive word
> Increase visitor loyalty.
> Demonstrate that you understand the needs of
your target audience.
> Encourage visitors to stay on your site longer.
> Attract more traffic from search engines.
> Differentiate your site from the competition.
In part two of this three part series we examine the biggest
recruitment website functionality mistakes - in our article: The 'Must Have' Functionality That
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