What can careers sites personalization learn from online shopping for consumer goods?
Shopify estimates retail ecommerce sales will reach 4.9 trillion US dollars by 2021, and will grow at a 9,6% compound annual growth rate until then, which is around 30% higher than forecasted global retail growth between 2016 and 2020. Online shopping is clearly hitting the spot for consumers.
A large part of modern talent acquisition consists of recruitment marketing activities. As employers, we build employer brands and deploy talent attraction and talent engagement campaigns. We want to offer custom experiences that delight prospective candidates. Why wouldn’t we want to apply the same marketing lense to the experience of searching and applying for a job on the company's careers site?
One aspect of the candidate experience that can learn the most from the success of online shopping is the careers site experience. The things that delight us in the process of searching for, then acquiring an item online can be transposed to navigating career pages, employer websites, and job descriptions.
What do we like about online shopping?
Think about having to buy something that is fairly specific and not easily found in your local supermarket–a coffee grinder, for example. You start by doing some research on the available product types on the market to figure out if you want a hand grinder or an electric one, but then, pretty soon you end up on amazon, looking through your options.
After half an hour, you’ve narrowed down your options to 3 products, compared all their features in detail, read dozens of reviews, and you finally add one of them to your cart, then check out in a couple of clicks.
There a few things that are extremely valuable about that process:
- Researching and comparing coffee grinders in Amazon is extremely easy. Filters, sorting, adding to wishlists, comparison tables… it all helps direct your choice to the best possible option for you.
- Amazon has reviews from other Amazon shoppers, your peers. Nothing can replace the reassurance you get from another human being who can empathize with your needs
- The convenience and ease of use of the shopping cart makes it the most powerful piece of that whole experience. It makes your life ridiculously easy. It knows your address, your preferred payment methods, and doesn’t mind if you interrupt your shopping and decide to come back later. If for some reason you forget about your cart for a few days, or if items in your cart are no longer available, it will send you a gentle email nudge.
- After you check out, Amazon lets you know exactly when your order is dispatched and delivered. You’re not kept guessing, you don’t have to ask, the information is just there.
Amazon is not the only retailer to offer this level of personalization and service to its users, to be clear. Most of the largest fast-moving consumer goods retailers do the exact same thing, if not more.
Why is careers site personalization so important?
If talent leaders had to choose only one thing to copy from online shopping, it should be personalization. Offering a personalized careers site experience is the first step in bringing your candidates’ journey to that level of convenience and delight.
Think back to the coffee grinder example above, except that the coffee grinder is that perfect product management role your prospective candidate is looking for, and Amazon is your careers site.
In an ideal world, the candidate is driven to your website after doing some research and learning that you are well-known for the quality of your Product team. They subscribe to your talent network, highlight their areas of interest, and you immediately send them some product roles that might interest them.
After a couple of weeks, you send them an article on your latest product release and they come back to your careers site. The homepage recognizes them, and shows them employee testimonials from a product manager from their geography, so they decide to look through a few more job descriptions. This time, one of them seems to fit and they start filling out an application.
Something interrupts their work, and they have to leave-mid session. Not to worry-they will discover that they can pick up where they left off when they come back. Their “shopping cart” is still waiting for them, and it knows their email address, their work experience from Linkedin, and the previous interactions they’ve had with your recruiting team.
That’s the kind of careers site journey that is possible with the type of website personalization technology that’s currently available, and that’s what candidates will come to take for granted very soon.
To be clear, the most powerful aspect of it is not that it recognizes your name and can scour the web for your personal information. In fact, good personalization is often unobtrusive and almost unnoticeable, not creepy and stalkerish.
What makes it useful for candidates is that it’s personalization with a purpose: it serves to give the candidate exactly what they need at exactly the right time. If they are a graduate student, it takes them to the graduate jobs. If they are a veteran, it shows them the veterans’ association landing page. It uses data to help candidates save time and find the best opportunities for them.
Perfect omnichannel: the holy grail of careers site
The most successful online retailers are the ones who have come closest to perfect omnichannel experiences: people who use multiple channels spent an average of 4% more on every shopping occasion in the store and 10% more online than single-channel customers, according to this study. It makes sense to offer them the experience they are looking for.
Omnichannel applies to recruiting as well, but it’s important to define exactly what it means.
A true omnichannel experience, both in recruiting and in retail, relies on all the consumer -or candidate- data living in one place and being updated in real time every time the individual interacts with the company.
Think about it as tag-teaming a conversation with the candidate. You started interacting with them on a campus, then your colleague picked up the conversation when they added them to the right email nurture cadence, then another colleague stepped in when they started filling out an application on the website. Everyone on the team knows exactly what has been said so far. The candidate feels like they’re having one single conversation.
Good shopping needs good data–and so does recruiting
Data is a huge part of providing that consumer-grade experience on your careers site. Companies need powerful infrastructure to collect the millions of data points necessary to tailor every site visit to the visitor, and every email to the recipient. On the flip side, they get to benefit from all that data in multiple ways.
Behavior and demographic data points on candidates help employers understand how to better attract the right people. By looking at past data and testing hypotheses, talent leaders can find patterns. Insights like: “Designers who visits the product pages or came to a product demo are more likely to apply”, “Senior candidates always wait until they have had a face-to-face chat with an employee before looking into a new role” or “most traffic to engineering job descriptions comes from these three sources.”
It’s not just about offering a delightful job search experience, it’s about helping steer the efforts of the entire talent team.
Careers site personalization is already happening. It’s making the experience of job searching feel easier, more efficient, and in many cases downright enjoyable. Who doesn’t like that hit of adrenaline that comes from clicking on link after a long online journey and thinking “yes, that’s exactly what I was looking for” ?
The migration of the candidate journey into a digital, consumer-grade experience is already happening, and it’s offering yet another exciting opportunity for talent teams to distinguish themselves and outpace the competition. As usual with such market shift, we’re looking forward to discovering who will make progress, who will lose ground, and who will be the unexpected dark horse that the next generation of talent holds up as an example of great employer branding.
A webinar with Amazon: Selecting the Right Recruitment Marketing Technology
According to Aptitude Research, over 70% of enterprise organizations are investing in recruitment marketing capabilities this year. In order to help with this process, Kelly Cartwright, head of Talent Acquisition Technology Strategy at Amazon Web Services, and Madeline Laurano, founder of Aptitude Research, joined us to discuss some of the latest trends in recruitment marketing and key recommendations for evaluating providers.