“Candidate experience” gets a lot of attention in the blogosphere, HR and talent communities, and other places around the web. Candidate experience can be broadly defined as how job seekers interact with a company’s hiring processes – from recruiting to interviewing and onboarding. Before a job seeker becomes a candidate, though, they’re interacting with – and evaluating – organizations differently. That often begins with your website, which can deliver a good … or not-so-good … user experience (UX). When is the last time you tested the job seeker UX of your site? This means evaluating every aspect of your website as though you are a job seeker.
UX has been an integral part of web design for several years, but as web behavior changes, it’s important that your site keeps up with those changes. In years past, the focus was on navigation, or making sure that your main content was “above the fold” and eliminating vertical scrolling. More recently, the focus has been on responsive design versus mobile design to ensure that users encounter a fully-functioning site regardless of the device they’re using. Now, you’re likely to hear phrases like “device agnostic” or “motion design” during a UX conversation.
To understand the importance of UX, it may be easier to start with what a poor experience looks like. In terms of job seeker UX, a poor experience might include:
- Old or clunky design. If it’s been more than 5 years since you updated your site, this is probably true for you. Even if it SEEMS fine when you look at it. Web visitors must be regarded as CONSUMERS. In the same way that restaurants get “stale” if they don’t renovate or change their menus periodically, the same is true for websites. Job seekers are comparing your site to other competitor sites. If yours looks boring, or offers the “same old, same old,” your visitors will use something newer and fresher. Some examples of outdated design include crazy GIF animations, icons that don’t clearly represent the action a user should take, or Flash elements.
- Site speed. Speed has always been an important component of good web design, but it’s even more critical now. Nearly half of web users expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less. Google heavily weighs load speeds and penalizes sites that are too slow. This means that even if every other part of your site functions optimally, you can expect to see your site ranked lower (if at all) in search results. In the web universe, lack of speed kills.
- Ads, overlays, and other annoying features. No one likes these. ESPECIALLY on mobile devices, where the overlay may not “pop up” in an area on the screen that can be seen. Typically, all of the site functionality is unavailable until the pop-up feature is closed. If the user can’t see that feature, and can’t access the other site content, they’ll leave. And they probably won’t come back.
When evaluating the job seeker UX on your site, here are a few tips to follow:
- Use your site as a job seeker would. That means testing out your apply process – are the call-to-action (CTA) buttons CLEAR and easy to find? Do they take you to the next logical step in the journey? Does the user have to manually enter data that is already included in their resume? Does the resume have to be in Word format? (Hint: That might not be a format they have on their mobile device, where PDF is likely more common.)
- Are your icons common and easily recognized? This is not an area of your site where it pays to be too “cute” or trendy. Use icons that users are accustomed to seeing elsewhere. Be sure to leave room for labels. Here are some great tips about using icons effectively.
- Focus on storytelling. Job seekers are looking for more than static content. Good job seeker UX includes video and other visual content that tell a good story.
- Consider a user’s full journey. This could include voice search or voice commands. Currently, voice accounts for 20% of mobile searches. How does your site perform in voice searches? Do you have a seamless transition from voice to screen?
- Make sure users can find what they need. From a prominent search bar to your contact details, these details are important to users and must be easy to find. If job seekers must leave your site to find your phone number or other way to contact you, that is not a good user experience.
Good job seeker UX isn’t something you should try to handle on your own. It’s an integral part of the design process – so it’s imperative that your design team includes UX expertise. It’s not enough to have a site that functions well. It also needs to provide a great experience. This requires specialized skills and knowledge that is best left to the pros.