separate career site

Do You Really Need a Career Website?

When you decide to take your employment branding to the next level, the challenge is the same as with most other initiatives—how do you maximize the benefits of a growing program while minimizing the resources needed to manage it? At this stage, many organizations find themselves asking, “Do we really need a separate career website?”

It seems like a reasonable question. After all, most companies already have robust infrastructure, work processes and messaging around their corporate sites. Isn’t it better to leverage that asset instead of duplicating it?

Sometimes it is. If you have fewer than 100 employees, you may be able to get by with just a “careers” section on your corporate site. There are also a few unusual cases such as Zappos, which has so many people wanting to work for them, that a conventional online application process would simply leave them inundated. Of course, very few of us have that problem.

For most organizations, the right answer is a separate careers website connected to your corporate site—and, in the case of online retailers, your commerce site as well. And even if you fall under one of the exceptions mentioned above, you absolutely, positively need a dedicated “space” where your employment brand can live and breathe online.

(I’m sure there’s someone reading this who thinks they are an exception because “we don’t have an employment brand, so we don’t need a place for it to live.” Congratulations—you have two problems to fix. To see what I mean, keep reading.)

So then, what exactly do I mean by a dedicated “space” for your employment brand? Imagine that your website is a bricks-and-mortar location, like your headquarters or, for e-commerce sites, a retail store. Most visitors who come through your door are looking for something other than a job. When someone does come in asking for an application, you send them down the hall to HR. There, they can find answers to their questions instead of being pitched your latest product or service.

The online experience should be as close to this as possible. It should still look and feel like your company, but they should sense that they have crossed a line from the retail or corporate environment into the virtual “HR department.” Here are three good reasons why:

1. The website is part of the customer experience—and you have more than one kind of “customer.”

The most fundamental idea in employment branding is that the consumer brand and the employment brand are different. The consumer brand tells customers why they should buy from you; the employment brand tells job seekers why they should work for you. They are related, and they should reinforce one another, but they’re two completely different experiences.

Go back to the bricks-and-mortar analogy for a minute. When you try to serve all kinds of “customers” on a single website, it’s like squeezing the HR office into the middle of the sales floor—or, conversely, promoting a big retail sales event on a job board. Two audiences (and two brands) become hopelessly ensnarled. Everybody gets less of what they want. But by simply providing a separate area on your site—where it is easily seen by job seekers but doesn’t get in the way of other customers—you can send them “down the hall” to a site dedicated to your employment brand. Everybody wins.

2. For job seekers, the website is the centerpiece of the conversation.

Corporate websites can make a huge contribution to the depth and strength of your consumer brand. But unless your business is e-commerce, the web probably isn’t directly involved in most of your transactions. The career website, on the other hand, is the linchpin of the entire recruiting process.

In a recent blog, I talked about the three categories of a complete employment branding program—awareness, attraction, and application. Everything in the awareness phase is designed to draw active and passive candidates into—you guessed it—your career site. This is where they can read, watch, learn, talk, find answers and make connections with fellow job seekers, your current employees, and industry opinion leaders. They can keep doing this for as long as it takes before deciding whether to apply or move on—and when they move on, it’s probably because you have given them enough information to figure out that you and they weren’t a good fit.

It’s a seamless process. It’s the most effective way to help qualified candidates find their way to you. And it’s simply not possible without a rich, targeted and well-supported career website.

3. Not promoting your employment brand message is a message in itself.

There was a time when a great career website really made a company stand out. But as more organizations learn the lessons and reap the benefits of employment branding, having a poor career site (or none at all) is what will really make you stand out—for all the wrong reasons. And that matters a lot more than you may know.

In a CareerBuilder survey, nearly half (46%) of workers said a company’s employment brand plays a very big role in their decision, while another 45% said it plays somewhat of a role. If the effort you put into your career site—or space—is the best demonstration of your employment brand and culture, then the lack of a career site implies that these things are not important to you. And a half-hearted effort isn’t much better. For example, 65% of workers who search for jobs via mobile devices will leave a website if it is not mobile-optimized; 40% walk away with a more negative opinion of the company.

In the end, you have to find the right balance for your organization between what you put into employment branding and what you expect to get out of it. For most companies, a separate career website is well worth the effort. For some, it may not be. But everyone needs an employment brand and a place for it to call home.

Learn how we can help reveal your authentic culture and connect with candidates through your career site.