Most corporate job sites are failing at one important goal: they make it difficult for candidates to apply for positions online. As a result, companies are losing the approximate $8,000 per hire they would save by recruiting through the Internet.

" It' s a tautology: If people cannot apply for a job, they are not going to," says Mark Hurst, the president of Creative Good, a New York-based Web consulting and research firm which analyzed the effectiveness of six corporate Web sites.

In Creative Good' s study, approximately 42% of the candidates' attempts to apply online ended in complete failure. The American industry loses as much as $30 million every day because of poorly implemented job sites, the firm estimates.

Even If You Build It, They May Not Come

"Good talent is so rare now, if a candidate abandons one company and goes to another company, the one with the bad site has lost a candidate in the competition of the war for talent," Hurst says.

Creative Good looked at the Web sites of Baxter, Cisco Systems, Citibank, Procter & Gamble, Granite Rock and Trilogy and found that typical obstacles to applying online included:

  • The site makes it difficult to get to the job postings. For example, candidates had to go through four or five levels of Web pages on the Procter & Gamble site before they even got to the job postings.
  • The job postings leave out basic information, such as location of the position, a description of the job, or include jargon that only an insider would understand. For example, in one test, Citibank sought a " B& P Relationship Manager" but did not describe what the title meant.
  • Mechanical errors or the company' s technology prevent the job seeker from sending an electronic resume or short biography. For example, Baxter' s site asks job candidates to log in before applying.

" Some companies use high-tech solutions thinking they will create some value," Hurst says. " But the complexity of the high-tech solutions sometimes makes it hard for people to apply and the company risks losing effectiveness."

Candidates who cannot apply online will often start looking for a telephone number to call, bringing the company back to traditional recruiting. " Bad e-recruiting absolutely does cost a company a lot of money," says Hurst.

Job Seeker' s Needs Should Come First

One goal, when designing an online experience, is to make it customer-focused and not company-focused. Hurst says that one of his own job applicants complained that he got so frustrated trying to apply to Motorola that he gave up. The applicant was trying to fill out a short bio online, but when he hit the " submit" button, a message came up stating he had made a mistake and to return to the previous page and do it again. When he returned to the previous page, he discovered that the site had erased all the information he had already typed in. The candidate did this three times before giving up.

Another example is Cisco' s Profiler, which asks visitors to the site to build and submit their resume in order to get a follow-up phone call from a Cisco employee. The site has been a hit with job seekers and recruiters, but there is one drawback. " The Profiler doesn' t get back to you on what jobs you like. Cisco gets to decide what jobs to contact you for," says Hurst, who adds it is also not very clear to job seekers that they are not building a resume to apply to specific jobs. " The point is not to avoid technology but rather to use technology that best supports what the job seekers want."

What does all this mean for employers? Since most companies have ineffective e-recruiting strategies, any company with a good jobs site will stand out among its competitors.

Common mistakes found in corporate Web sites:

  • Many job locations listed the city, but not the state.
  • Some job information included company-specific abbreviations or jargon that candidates didn' t understand.
  • An online job application form halted users with error messages.
  • A browser " plug-in" was required before any applications could be downloaded.
  • One site required registration and log-in before any job listings could be browsed.
  • Unnecessary large graphics were slow to download.

Source: Creative Good

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