We've just gone live with our new website and we are delighted with how great it looks and more importantly how it actually helps our team to do their jobs more easily as Recruiters.
But... and it's a big one. We haven't always had the features we wanted or needed and that largely comes down to the company you partner with.
I probably have a bit of an advantage over a lot of other people. During my career I have held the post of Group Digital Director for a major global recruitment group. That taught me a lot about how to manage a website project. However for most of us a major PLC type budget isn't available.
So how do you get enough bang for your buck? How do you make sure your recruitment website is more than just a pretty online brochure?
How do you make it work for you? Well, it starts with knowing what is on your shopping list and actually interviewing website design companies until you find someone that gives you what you need.
Whether you're a Recruiter championing a website overhaul, a recruitment marketing manager tasked with the website makeover or a recruitment leader that needs to get this right then perhaps I can share a little of what I have learned over my several failed attempts to partner with the right website company.
Here is my 8 point checklist that you need to ensure that you get what you need for your website to function as it should for today's digital marketing practices.
#1 - URL customisation
Ok so let's not complicate this. One of the (many) key elements of SEO is how your URL's are structured.
Recruitment agencies in today's digital age need to start thinking like e-commerce sites in terms of landing pages, content that users actually want to digest and individual product pages (i.e. jobs for recruitment companies) are clean, show the right keyword optimised content and have URL's that help the user find you from an initial online search query.
If we use individual job pages as an example... instead of:
Google loves fresh content, an easy to understand URL and the right keywords for longtail search so this will help your rankings improve with very little effort.
This isn't possible on every website platform so it has to be on your checklist from the start and you should only work with a company that can allow this. This is why generic website design companies can often deliver quite a poor experience in our sector. That being said so can larger recruitment website specialists if they are shoe-horning you onto an antiquated system where one size fits all.
#2 - Video
Video is king. Think about how you walk around with your own mini advertising billboard all day in the form of an iPhone or Android utlising the content from media channels, social accounts, shares on WhatsApp to name just a few.
We all consume huge volumes of video content because it is easy.
So if you're not creating video you should be. But it's no good spending money on producing videos if your website will grind to a halt overnight because it doesn't have the bandwith to host the video and deal with visitors.
When looking for a website solution you need a company that allow you to host video on another platform and simply embed the code on your web pages. This means the user can watch the video on your site but the video is hosted elsewhere leaving your website to run fast and smooth. As a side note it's also worth ensuring your website provider builds in an image compressor as large image files are another key culprit behind slow running websites. To test your website speeds click here
#3 - Inbound marketing
If your company is relying totally on business development calls and an army of Recruiters all haphazardly sending out mailshots irregularly, without any tracking or data analysis capability then you're literally wasting a lot of time and money.
Don't become the Blockbuster that dies through lack of innovation, be Netflix.
Move with the times. Create content that people are prepared to share their details with you to access.
Do you know how many people visit your site each month? How many of them actually take action to reveal themselves?
You want visitors to leave clues, to identify who they are, to share how they came to be on your site and what content they spent the most time consuming. You need to collect their contact details so you can continue to share more specific and personalised content with while remaining GDPR compliant.
This is only possible if your website has either personalisation, tracking and marketing functions built in from the start OR integrates with third party products to allow for landing pages, hosted content (videos, PDF guides, reports and whitepapers) that collects email addresses and names in exchange for access. Ask a lot of questions about this. If you don't understand it ask more questions and even ask to see it live in action.
#4 - Job search & alerts
This is such a big under-performing area of most recruitment websites.
I challenge you to take on the persona of your ideal candidate.
Who are they? What roles are they looking for? What roles do they want to find and where? What do they want to be notified about on an ongoing basis?
Answer those questions and then visit your website and then those of your competitors.
How does it feel? 9 out of 10 websites that I review for clients have huge ugly weeping gaps that mean many of your so called "specialist markets" look very dry online with few jobs online to make you look anything like a specialist in that field. This is due to either poor consultant discipline or a poor search / filter function on their website.
Can you imagine visiting a shop where half the stock was not on the shelf, where there was nobody to ask to look out back and the stock that was out was in a big messy heap on the floor?
You'd turn around and leave and if your website is guilty of these issues you are literally pushing sought after candidates into the arms of competitors that put more effort in on this.
If you're going to revamp your website do some research and then break down how you need search to work.
Usually this is a formula of job function, sector, salary, location and contract type.
You need your website company to allow these categories to work independently of each other and you need a simple list of categories that live in each area and that is understood and used properly by your team when posting jobs.
Don't fall into the trap of listing every single permutation and combination of each type - you'll give your users very limited results. Think about simplifying this with the most common language used by all.
#5 - Candidate Registration
How do your candidates register online? What information do you gather? Are you asking for too much and pushing them away? Are you allowing them to register from mobile? Are you making it more complicated than needed?
Go and be the candidate and see what you have on your website today and then think about your own experiences.
When you make purchases online at home in the evening on your mobile on the sofa do you curse when faced with too many questions or complicated long forms? Yes? Then so do your candidates when faced with ridiculous forms and questions on your website.
Keep it simple but gather what you need.
Look for a website company that will allow you to integrate this with your CRM systems so that website registrations automatically get added to your database with an alert to the relevant Consultant or Team.
#6 - Careers Pages
Is your careers page sad? Most recruitment companies offer a pretty poor experience when it comes to their own careers pages.
They only offer vacancies as content (and usually only a couple of generic ones at that), they offer little in the way of the real information that recruiters really want to know and force people to apply with CV's.
This won't work guys and it has to change.
If you haven't read my book on this yet - Where Did All The Good Recruiters Go? - then go get it. It will give you a breakdown on what you need to do here along with an overarching strategy to overhaul your direct recruitment strategy. A careers page or area on your website is a must and as such a business critical issue really does require your full input and commitment. Make sure your website company can separate your internal jobs from the external jobs you are managing. Too many recruitment agency sites send potential hires away to get lost in their main job search page. It's confusing and a major turn off.
#7 - SEO
SEO. The magical mystical wizadry of SEO baffles most people.
I can't claim to be an expert in this field myself but I do know that you need the ability to control your page titles, your meta data and image file names in order to boost your individual page and overall website SEO rankings.
You'd be amazed at how many companies are allowing their website companies to name their pages for them - totally losing key SEO benefits and google rankings in the process.
If you are going to go the expense of developing a new site that works harder for you then the ability to self manage and update your page titles, keywords , metadata and image file names is key - as is having someone to help you research the key search terms you should be using on each page.
#8 - CMS
This is the absolute non-negotiable. Your website should offer any easy to use online platform to manage your website content. You should have the ability to self-manage, publish and authorise content.
This means an easy to use content management system that comes with your website (not a hard-coded website that only the design company can change or amend).
You should be able to add, remove or update pages, add blog posts, embed video and create landing pages, forms and gated content independently at any time.
Ask lots of questions around the CMS platform that you will be using to manage your website once built.
If there isn't one run for the hills.
If there is one ask for a demo and actually create pages and content with them to see for yourself how easy (or not) it is to use.
So that's it. A quick blast on 8 key things to consider when considering a new website design & management service for your recruitment company.
It doesn't have to be super expensive £5K - £10K can get you a pretty awesome features that works hard for you, a bespoke design and a great CMS system.
If you'd like a referral to an awesome website company drop me a line and I'd be happy to share some details with you.