After the past 18 months of economic uncertainty, it seems an odd time for unemployment rates to fall to record lows.
Nevertheless, we have witnessed a significant downward shift in the availability of candidates since mid-July, with the number of job seekers applying for roles appearing to decrease almost daily.
There was an estimated 953,000 vacancies posted between May and October — a growth of 290,000 since the previous quarter and 168,000 more than the comparative pre-pandemic level. As a result, skills and expertise are at a premium, with the supply of workers dropping at the fastest rate since 1997.
It has never been more important that your recruitment website out-performs you competition, to put it frankly, if your website dose’n’t provide your clients or job seekers what they want, fast, they will go elsewhere. We have worked on many recruitment and HR websites and once we take a look at the back end, or the websites analytics, they user drop off rate after entering is staggering.
Your website is your shop front or doorway to both your candidates and clients and as such, should represent you in the best way possible. If you had a shop in your town/city centre which was rough and under maintained or had a faulty door which caused a slow flow of traffic then you would certainly try to do something to fix the problems so that your business could operate unhindered. Well your website is no different.
For many recruitment agencies or consultancies whom operate solely online their website is their primary means of communicating their brand, message and overall ethos toward recruitment so getting the fundamentals right is imperative. In this article we will concentrate on the fundamentals of user experience – often referred to as UX, GDPR, performance & mobile optimisation, SEO, accessibility, general best practices.
1. User experience –Give people what they want
A good UX starts with an overall understanding of user behaviour and how they use websites. For a recruitment website this can be broken in to four types of user.
- A candidate looking for immediate work (Active candidate)
- A candidate open to offers or otherwise waiting for the right opportunity (Passive candidate)
- A client looking to recruit for a specific role
- A client looking to recruit for ongoing (sometimes high churn rate) contract roles such as warehouse staff
The majority of recruitment websites will deal with at least three of these on a daily basis, with some specialist recruitment agencies dealing in all four.
Providing a great experience for passive candidates starts on your home/landing page with clear calls to action to register their profile. For candidates that just like to click a button there should be a Quick CV drop function that allows a candidate to send you their resume with little fuss, this functionality should also inform your candidates on your data protection policies and GDPR mechanisms as required by law.
Clients looking to fill a specific role
For clients who need your recruitment expertise to fill a specific role your message should be presented wth confidence and absolute industry authority that you have the best candidates in the industry in your recruitment CRM or database. Often this starts on the landing page and when expansion is required should funnel down to a dedicated client page explaining your process with some testimonials from both candidates and clients to add positive social reinforcement.
Clients looking for multiple candidates or temporary recruitment
If your agency specialises in temporary recruitment then it’s recommended to have a detailed page outlining your process, rough candidate reach and anything else that makes you stand out from your competition. A key piece of knowledge to remember in any recruitment is that your clients use your service because it makes financial sense to do so, whether that’s through working hours saved not only recruiting but marketing and maintaining their own careers pages or through your access to good talent through your own screening processes, your clients often need to be reminded why they should use your service over their own or that of a competitor of yours.
2. GDPR / data protection / privacy
Even in 2021 you would be surprised at the number of recruitment websites that often deal with sensitive data such as passport scans, licence scans, national insurance numbers and many other pieces of data that if compromised could easily be used for nefarious purposes – which is what the GDPR was created to tackle. Most of the time it’s not the fault of the recruiter but the fault of the vendor or developer that built the recruitment website and the lack of knowledge they possess when it comes to the requirements implementation of GDPR.
If there is one piece of information to take away from this article then it’s this; Your legitimate interest does NOT trump the rights of the subject (the candidate) to know what data is being stored, why it is being stored, who it is being shared with and how you intend to use or process that data and that the candidate understand and agree to your procedures. If you would like to discuss your current website and potential exposure to fines for breaching GDPR please get in contact with us for a free consultation.
3. Performance and mobile optimisation
It goes without saying that your website should be fast loading, responsive and mobile friendly. Mobile usage for general web browsing accounts for more than 55% of web browsing as of December 2020 and as such your recruitment website should not only be optimised for but also be a joy to use on a mobile.
Quite often we see recruitment websites that are stacked on a mobile which is certainly usable but not optimised for the use case. Elements such as search forms, filters, registration forms and candidate profiles need to deliver a great experience across all devices and load in the fastest time possible which as research suggests will not only give you a bump in the search engines but will also increase engagement and lower bounce rate for your website.
Quick wins in the performance department often include image compression, caching, HTML compression over the wire; often referred to as Gzip or Brotli compression, HTTP/2 which multiplexes requests over one connection allowing more than one request/response which allows a more efficient transfer of data thus recieving and serving assets such as images, stylesheets and scripts quicker to the end user.
SEO is a term widely used around the internet and it refers to the practice of making your website more visible to search engines through means of both on page and off page optimisation. On page optimisation describes the fundamental layout and markup of a website including hidden fields that search engine robots read to determine certain characteristics of your website such as page title, page description, page keywords, open graph tags and so on.
The overall URL structure of your website plays a vital part in your SEO as it drives both users and search engines to similar or relevant content through SILO structures which promotes both internal and external linking to get users to the content that may interest them quickly thus mitigating bounce rates and raising engagement on your website.
Off page SEO often refers to link building and in a wider sense marketing in general. It’s widely accepted that the authority of a website can be assessed by counting the links pointing to it and its pages while taking in to account the authority of the referring website against the subject matter such as a type of recruitment. An example of a good link from a relevant website may be a legal website linking back to a specific article or page on your legal recruitment website.
Links can be gained in a variety of manners with a popular one being outreach for guest posting on relevant websites. The process involves identifying relevant websites in your niche that maybe have a blog or knowledge base then reaching out to them to see if they’d be interested in an article posting on their site.
Generally they will jump at the chance as they get free and unique content for the cost of a small link back which benefits both parties. An oversimplification of link building is that the more relevant links from authority sites you have pointing back to your website the higher the search engines see your authority for a particular subject and the higher you will rank for it.
There are of course many other ways to build backlinks and we are always happy to discuss and advise them with you as part of our support.
A very often overlooked part of a website is accessibility which is the practice of making your website both visible and usable to as many users as possible that may have disabilities or impairments that hinder their website browsing experience. Impairments often require specialist software such as screen readers for the visually impaired and as such the software needs some help by means of layout, markup and attributes to help it identify, navigate and use your website.
As a whole this practice is called accessibility and having an accessible website doesn’t need to be daunting, you simply need a recruitment website vendor that both knows what they’re doing and cares about the browsing experience. The general groups that benefit from accessibility are: visual, cognitive, auditory, physical and neurological. Each of these groups require different thought processes behind design and development to allow them to interact with your website and make it a positive experience for them.
Broadly speaking, accessibility is very nuanced and requires a great deal of knowledge, technical thought and planning to impliment correctly. Often times recruiters want to go with the cheapest option to get their business off the ground ASAP, however, in our vast experience if you want the best you have to invest.
Investing in a competent recruitment website vendor that has your best interests at heart is integral to your business, it’s the same as investing in car maintenance to keep you and your family safe when on the road. Without trashing some of the vendors in the recruitment website industry there is an obvious knowledge gap between industry pioneers and those in it to make a quick quid, doing research, asking questions and auditing some previous / current work will get you most of the answers you need so don’t be afraid to do what’s needed to make sure your website is accessible as possible
6. Best practices
Website design and development best practices are a broad group of practices generaly agreed upon by community and search engines. They include but are not limited to:
- HTTPS as a transport mechanism
- Secure code and libraries
- Avoiding asking for location permissions on page load – instead waiting until you need them
- Avoiding asking notification permissions on page load – instead waiting until you need them
- Allowing users to paste their own passwords from tolls such as password managers etc
- Marking links to cross origin destinations as unsafe or safe
- Displaying images with the correct aspect ratio which avoids page shifting / jumping
- Lazy loading images or scripts below the fold (assets users cannot see or interact with) until they’re required
Whomever you choose as your vendor you should make sure they’re on top of all the latest developments. When analysing competitors websites, we have come across quote a few that don’t adhere to the latest standards so again choose your vendor wisely.