Friday, September 26, 2008

What do job seekers think about your department?

Just as organisations can use social network sites to judge the relative merits of potential staff (per my post Locating and learning about future public employees), websites are allowing people to judge the relative merits of potential employers.

How does your department rate?

There's no doubt that people research potential employers online, and in a 'seller's market' for skilled labour it's critical for employers to put their best foot forward.

There are some fantastic job seeker/careers sections in organisational websites - with IBM, Microsoft and Intel having always stood out for me as offering exceptionally good information for job seekers - not surprising given the calibre of the people they wish to attract.

My agency is progressively improving its job section for a similar reason. There's a limited pool of talented people and we need to present them with good reasons as to why they should choose us over other organisations - whether public or private.

What should be in a jobs section
Some of the features I consider important in a jobs section include;

Procedural information
  • Complete job information - everything a job seeker needs to apply online
  • Support tools to make it easier to apply for jobs - particularly for those who are not good at expressing themselves on paper (but shine in interviews) or are unfamiliar with the documentation required by your organisation (such as public sector selection criteria)
  • Explanation of the process and timeframes for recruitment (so they don't take another job when they've heard nothing for four weeks) - even better is to provide a 'package delivery' model whereby they can log in to see where their job application is up to in your process at any time (like Fed Express and DHL)
Organisational selling
  • Information helping employees to understand your organisation's purpose and goals
  • Details on why your organisation is a good place to work (pay is rarely the top reason!)
  • Social aspects of your organisation - how do the strangers you employ become part of your organisational family
  • Developmental opportunities, training and challenges
  • Community initiatives - how does your organisation participate with the broader community and 'give back' effort, time and support

Locational information
  • Information (profiles) on your locations (what it's like to work in particular offices)
  • Support for people who may be relocating (particularly for Canberra or country town locations)
Career profiling
  • Profiles of different career tracks and jobs in your organisation, based on people doing those roles and why they like them
  • Career selector tools which support people in finding the jobs in your organisation which best match their disposition and skills (such as at DEEWR's Jobjuice site) 

Beyond your own website
It's also important to consider factors beyond your own website.

Job seekers are influenced by their peers, by news and community sites, social networking sites, online encyclopedias, by recruitment websites and by specialist employer rating sites such as Glassdoor (discussed in the Sydney Morning Herald article, In good company).

Personally I keep a eye out on highly influential sites for Australians, such as LinkedIn, Wikipedia and Facebook, as well as the job sites and popular forums discussing child support topics.

I also monitor where people go when entering and exiting our websites, which provides an indication of other sites which may influence job seeker preferences.

What does your organisation do online to help attract the best applicants?

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