Redefining Refining Experiences
2013 was a year of reconsideration. We saw massive design shifts from Apple in iOS7, Netflix & Amazon made people reconsider premium television (House of Cards, Orange Is The New Black), we reconsidered how and where we use websites with the shift to responsive (AnnCareers.com, Slate.com, VAcareers.va.gov), we began to reconsider what we expect from employees (Yahoo - working from home, new corporate infrastructures at Zappos), and we reconsidered our storytelling tools (GIFs & lists with Buzzfeed; content marketing exploded, single scroll/parallax continued its dominance).
In 2014, we’re seeing a shift towards refining experiences, thinking about the cues that shape our life, and creating moments of reflection & consideration. You’ll see this reflected in the trends we highlight, showing more of a refinement of concept than completely blowing up the old model. Taking the LinkedIn concept further with new services like Work4 and others, using longer form content in unexpected ways to tell your story more deeply, and using social media to build a story over time.
We’re seeing people think more about the subtle cues and signals that can dramatically shape an experience and cause people to take action. As Marshall McLuhan famously said, “The Medium Is The Message.” Never has that been more true.
Consider the post-interview follow-up. A handwritten note signals something authentic that a dashed off e-mail can’t communicate. That note may be the difference between someone accepting or rejecting a job offer, communicating to the reader that you care enough to spend your time on them. As you look at your candidate experience this year, consider these tiny moments in the process, what they communicate to the candidate, and how you could improve along the way. Lots of little changes can add up to big gains in quality and volume.
One of the biggest areas for discussion recently has been search, social and mobile, and how they are all connected; your candidate experience should flow seamlessly across all devices and channels.
When it comes to Mobile, it’s too late to be proactive at this point. With Google’s Hummingbird update, it’s essential to have a great user experience across all devices. Not doing so may put your site at risk for moving down the search results pages or even from being excluded from results all together. So, it your careers website isn’t responsively designed, now is the time to consider it (and we strongly advise you do so). Along with having a positive candidate experience across desktop, mobile and tablet, it’s key to integrate a mobile-optimized application process (like Jibe) since many ATS vendors are still a bit behind in that game.
Along with these search and mobile changes, social media is playing a big part, as well. Search engines are now looking at how social indicators will affect your SEO and search engine rankings. This is especially true when it comes to Google+ - as a Google product, we can expect this social network to have a strong impact on how your careers site ranks in search engine results. If Google+ isn’t currently part of your social employer branding strategies, now’s a good time to think about it.
This is the year of looking for quality over quantity; casting the right net, rather than a wide net. Years ago we saw recruitment budgets shift from major job boards, like Monster and Career Builder, to PPC (pay-per-click) on major job aggregators like Indeed and Simply Hired. While these two aggregators have proven to be some of the most effective recruitment media channels, driving more applications at lower costs per applicant (CPA) compared to job boards, the space continues to shift.
While PPC is still an efficient media for recruiting, new media channels are slowly gaining traction on more quality-focused buying models – cost per lead (CPL) and cost per application (CPA). A couple examples include AppCast and FindTheRightJob. It’s not enough anymore for a media to produce a ton of clicks; HR teams are evaluating media by quality of candidates coming through, instead of just volume of applicants. We expect to see even more media dip there toes in this buying model this year.
Sourcing on LinkedIn has been around for a while, and it’s been successful. Receiving LinkedIn Messages with job opportunities and information has become the norm, but some may say that it’s also become intrusive or irrelevant. We now see Facebook trying its hand at sourcing; tools like Work4 Graph Search Recruiter coming into the space that allow recruiters to actively source candidates by searching for employment-related factors (like job title, employer, education, experience) from the Facebook database. While the two vendors offer similar products, they differ in exactly how they work and what they cost. But, Facebook sourcing is going to increase in 2014, and it will likely be successful since people are not used to receiving career information in their Facebook Inbox.
In addition to Facebook’s continued efforts to become more similar to LinkedIn, other social networks are starting to monetize and provide advertising opportunities. In 2013 we saw the introduction of Instagram Ads, Promoted Pins and Google+ test advertising campaigns. We will continue to see various social networks figure out how to make money through advertising over the coming months. We’ve already seen success with employer branding and recruitment advertising through social media campaigns on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, so we expect nothing less of any new social advertising forms.
Even Facebook is introducing new ways to advertise with Facebook Exchange. While traditional Facebook ad targeting is based on a Facebook member’s profile, demographics, likes, and other on-site behavior, Facebook Exchange uses third-party behavior search information to see what people are doing outside of Facebook, but showing them ads on Facebook. This is great for the employment space because most people are friends with co-workers on Facebook, so they typically won’t openly post about their job search on the site. Facebook Exchange allows us to see that a candidate is searching for jobs on sites like Monster or Indeed, or that they are searching for job-related keywords on Google and Bing, and then serve them relevant ads right on Facebook. Neat, huh?
The rise of medium & long-form content sites (such as Medium) suggests people are more willing to read and watch longer content on the web…but only if it’s done well. We want to lose ourselves, to be engrossed, to feel, and to understand. In-depth content shows that your EVP is more than a slogan.
Blogging is the most familiar content form right now; medium form writing is similar to blogging, but without the expectation of regularity – more like a typical magazine article. It’s long enough to be informative, but short enough to not be boring. Sites like Medium.com are great examples of this. Even some of the responses on Quora.com could fit into this format.
Long-form content, closer to feature-length articles (The Verge), provides the opportunity to incorporate multimedia features (Snowfall).
Medium and long-form content should not be seen as the answer in and of itself, and it’s not really meant to be used for awareness. These forms of storytelling are most useful in the consideration and research phases of a candidate experience. To create great content, think about the real questions people are afraid to ask; provide content that tells the complex stories of your company culture through multimedia storytelling. This content could also be useful in “debunking” untrue myths or beliefs about your company if your employer brand reputation is at question.
Nowadays, it seems like almost every company has social channels specific to Careers. Today success is no longer just having a presence; success lies in delivering content that offers value - content that involves the fan base in the brand story.
Social is not a place to simply promote open positions, events you’ll be attending, or to share awards that you have won. For employers to be successful on social media, it must also deliver an emotional and authentic reason for candidates to want join. And this doesn’t happen with a single post.
Social content strategy requires you to put your audience at the center and tell a story over time. This isn’t a task you can hand off to an intern; this isn’t a task you can do in a silo. And lastly, stories also shouldn’t always start and end on your social channels.
In the upcoming year we expect to see companies investing in developing better and more engaging content, and creating a more dynamic and valuable brand story, especially through social media and content strategy.
Consider what your employer branding and recruitment initiatives will be this year. Are you staying on top of trends and industry changes? Is your careers site responsive? Have you integrated social media into your strategies? At JWT INSIDE, we want to help you refine your candidate experience to get the highest quality hires for your company at the most effective cost. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a FREE 30-minute consultation to go over your candidate experience and your business objectives for 2014.
View the webinar slides here: http://jwti.co/r6IOWDK
Stephen Nemeth, Experience Planner
Emily Fearnley, Search Engine Marketing Analyst
Pete Price, Experience Planner
Erin Hartman, Media Director
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