Recruitment Websites -
The 'Must Have' Functionality That Many Don't

By Paul Quinn, © 2002

In part two of this three part series about the most common recruitment agency website mistakes, we take a look at some of the 'must have' functionality that many recruitment agency websites currently lack.

If your site isn't able to perform the most essential of job seeker functions, chances are it will be overlooked in favour of your competitors' sites that do. The good news is that offering 'must have' functionality doesn't have to be expensive - in selecting the right technology provider you can easily utilise proven recruitment software on your website instead of paying your web designer to re-invent the wheel.

Listed below are nine website functions that you should consider to maximise investment in your site:

1. Accurate Job Search Engines.

Offering user-friendly and accurate job search functionality is a crucial aspect of any recruitment website. After all, it is highly likely that the main reason that a candidate has come to your site is to search for suitable jobs. So, how well does your site's search engine stack up? Does it allow candidates to search by job title, salary, location, date or job reference number? Does it allow candidates to perform keyword searches and use Boolean queries such as "AND" "NOT" and "OR"? Does it allow candidates to browse a summary of jobs listed by key categories such as permanent, contract or temp? Try posting a job to your website and then seeing how easy it is to find it using the search criteria a candidate may use to find the job. In making it as painless as possible to help candidates to find their ideal role on your site, you significantly improve your chances of attracting a greater flow of candidate applications.

2. Job Alerts.

Consider this - a high quality candidate visits your site and browses your available jobs. After five minutes of browsing it becomes apparent that there's nothing suitable for her at this point in time. What happens next? She probably leaves your site (without registering her details) in search of the greener pastures of your competitor's website.

So what could you have done to capture her details before she left? In offering site visitors a "Job Alert" feature (also known as a "Job Agent"), you lessen the potential for 'losing' candidates to the competition. "Job Alert" subscribers simply fill in their job search criteria and e-mail address and are then alerted via e-mail as soon as a suitable job is found. In fact the "Job Alert" feature is so effective that one major Australian recruitment technology provider maintains that over 60% of all candidate applications originate from job alert subscribers on recruitment agency websites that offer visitors a job alert feature. That's a pretty compelling reason to consider investing in "Job Alert" functionality.

3. Online Applications.

Does your site offer candidates an online application form that mirrors the details you require for your candidate database? Are you able to automatically input candidate data into your candidate database after approval from a "database quality gatekeeper"? By only supplying site visitors with an e-mail address to respond to job ads, you guarantee that both the content and format of responses you receive will be of vastly differing standards. More importantly, the information you receive probably won't be in your preferred format and will therefore increase the amount of time required to spend screening online applications.

4. Online Profiler.

Does your website offer candidates the ability to store and update their profile or contact details online? Why not make it easy for both the candidate and your agency to keep information current by offering candidates a "self serve" candidate profiler page where their resume, contact details, preferences and availability are stored? The candidate wins because s/he has one central place to go online to access their employment details, and you win because you don't have to field the phone call or e-mail request, or have to re-type information into your database. This also improves the accuracy of your database and encourages repeat visitation to your website.

5. "Refer a Friend" Feature.

We've all experienced the incredible power of 'Word of Mouth' at some stage of our recruitment careers - so why not encourage it on your own website? Consider adding words to your job template to the effect of:

"Not suitable for this role? Perhaps you know someone else that may be? Click here to refer a friend and in return we'll show our appreciation by shouting you and your friend to the movies! Click Here."

6. "Print This Job" Feature.

Often candidates may not want to apply online for a role they are interested in: they may be surfing from work and be afraid that their boss will see, they may want to think further about the role, they may not have an up-to-date resume available, or they may just prefer to apply at a later stage. Whatever their reason, it's crucial that you make it easy for them to print the job. Many website designs are not printer-friendly, often cutting off the right hand portion of a job ad upon printing. This can easily be overcome by offering a "Print this job" feature that simply opens a new window containing a printer-friendly version of the job.

7. Online Vacancy Submission for Clients.

Typically, the majority of traffic to recruitment agency websites is candidate-related. However, that's not to say that current or potential clients won't visit your site from time to time, or that offering client-targeted functionality and content is not important - far from it. Online vacancy submission forms inviting clients to 'put you to the test' are one simple way to help you assess how much client-related traffic your site is receiving and gauge whether your site is appealing to clients. Consider offering clients a guaranteed 24-hour response time following their online submission to discuss the role. This will help to build their trust that their vacancy will be given the prompt attention it deserves.

8. Feedback Forms.

Make sure you offer site visitors an easy way to offer feedback about your site. Perhaps you can prompt them to provide feedback on specific aspects of your site. For example, do they have difficulty understanding your recruitment process? Were they able to follow the online registration process - what did they find difficult? What suggestions could they make to improve the site? By encouraging their comments (and subsequently acknowledging their feedback) it sends a clear message that you're interested in their opinions. It also provides you with invaluable ideas on how to improve your website from the very people that count - your customers.

9. Auto Responses.

In an ideal World, recruitment consultants would have the time to craft an individual response to each candidate application they receive. In reality, however, this is deemed both impractical and unrealistic for busy recruitment consultants. One practical measure you can take to help address this, however, is to acknowledge applications from your website with an automatically generated response. Auto responses are a useful way of informing applicants that their application has been received, and outlining how the recruitment process will work from there. The other advantage of automating your responses to applications is that you can ensure a consistently high standard of written communications to candidates. So, whilst a personalised message will always be the most effective form of acknowledgment, a well-written auto response is a smart alternative.

NEXT ISSUE: In the final part of this three part series we examine the biggest recruitment website promotion mistakes - in our article: "Build it… and they DON'T come?!"

To read the first article in this series - click here: "How to keep your content from crashing".

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