Future of Work
7 min read
February 21, 2024

How to crack the code on the ideal career site experience (through the lens of 3 employers who already have).

Joe Shaker Jr. and Paradox Chief Product Officer Adam Godson have over 50 years of career site building experience — they shared their thoughts, and some examples, on how best to optimize career sites to actually convert.

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The words “career site” probably make you think of a few things:  

A complex, 200-page website. 

A long list of open positions.

A bunch of photos of smiling employees.

What you almost definitely didn’t think of is horse racing. Because that wouldn’t make a ton of sense. Granted, you’re also almost definitely not Joe Shaker Jr., president of Shaker Recruitment Marketing.

(But on the off chance you are: Hey, Joe! Thanks for reading!)

Shaker, who has built effective career sites for hundreds of enterprise organizations, compares career site design to the “trifecta” — a horse racing wager where you bet on the top three placing horses in any given race. It’s a notoriously tough bet, but has a big payout. Although with career sites, you’re betting on something even trickier than thoroughbreds: candidates. 

Oftentimes, organizations will make a big gamble that doesn’t pay off — one that can usually be attributed to overcomplicating the entire career site experience. For Shaker, it really boils down to a trifecta of simple things. 

“Simultaneously, we want to send candidates the right message, in the right places, to make the right conversion.”

When you can do that well, you can dramatically increase traffic and conversion.

In a recent webinar, Shaker sat down with Adam Godson, Paradox’s president and chief product officer — that’s over 50 years of combined career site building experience; together, they discussed why career sites are ripe for transformation, AI’s impact on candidate conversion, and why the Lions are going to win the Super Bowl (spoiler: they did not). 

And ultimately, Shaker and Godson crack the code on how every employer can hit the trifecta with their career site experience, through the lens of three organizations who already have.

UScellular: How being authentic reduces employee turnover.

Your brand probably has dozens (if not hundreds) of potential touchpoints that could reach candidates before they even think about applying to a job, but career sites present an incredible opportunity to deliver your brand’s message in a unique, forthright way. 

“The beauty [of the career site] is it's the first place where you can authentically bring your brand to life,” said Shaker.  

The key word there is authentically. Shaker and Godson both believe that while showcasing brand is important, it’s imperative to be honest with candidates at the start of their application process. Explain the details of the application, what types of candidates you’re looking for, and what it’s like to work at your organization. 

“Job seekers would rather opt out at the start of the process versus going all the way through and getting upset that what they got wasn’t what they wanted,” said Shaker. 

UScellular does a great job of authentically showcasing their value proposition to candidates. Near the top of their career site is a carousel of scrappy, TikTok-style employee testimonials that come across as honest vs. corporate. It sets a tone for the rest of a career site — a vibe of authenticity. What you see is what you get. 

If candidates like what they see, UScellular makes it easy to start a job application. No matter where a candidate is on the site, there’s always a chat widget on screen. Candidates can simply message UScellular’s AI assistant, Taylor, to start a job application without ever switching site pages. 

If they don’t feel like it’s a good match, that’s OK too — sometimes, screening candidates out is just as valuable as screening them in. Not everyone is going to be a long-term fit at every company. Hiring “bad” fits may seem like a short-term win, but can cost time and money down the road.

“Lay out all the information at the beginning and hopefully it meets their expectations,” said Shaker. “We’d rather learn now than halfway through the process.”

By being honest, UScellular is able to gain more candidates’ trust at the beginning of the process, while setting themselves up to increase their employee retention by up to 8% down the road.

Fontainebleau: How visual efficiency creates a positive candidate experience.

Some candidates come to a career site with the intention to immediately apply for a role. Others have already applied on a job board like Indeed, and are now preparing for the interview. And some people, frankly, just misclicked on the footer of your website.

A great career site design appeals to all of these people: Inform, educate, convert.

“Let [candidates] create their own journey,” said Shaker. “Ultimately, we want to have a couple of different doors of entry.”

When Fontainebleau, a well-known hotel brand in Florida, moved to the crowded Vegas market, they had a couple goals:

  1. Hire 6,000 people over a three month window.
  2. Teach the Vegas market used to casino names like Luxor and Bellagio what the heck a Fontainebleau was. 

Fontainebleau’s career site directly reflects this two-pronged approach. Candidates are immediately presented with a video highlighting the company’s brand values, which are subsequently laid out throughout the page’s visual assets. 

But also at the top of the page: an easy to find apply button. 

Your career site has to allow candidates to engage with it in the way they determine. Fontainebleau’s career site does a great job at letting candidates take the wheel; the site supports candidates in their journey, rather than forcing them down a specific information path.

So whether candidates want to learn about Fontainebleau’s benefits, or they just want to be a concierge ASAP, the career site is designed to be visually efficient. Candidates see a simple UI, can easily track down what they’re looking for, and can act immediately. 

Godson believes that storytelling is an integral part of any career site design. But it’s not always the most important aspect.

 “Sometimes, you have to get out of the way. Let them convert.”

McDonald’s: How personalization drives conversion.

According to Godson, candidates are only interested in what they’re interested in. They want to know what’s in it for them. He believes good career sites accommodate for that.

“Where the world is going is clearly in personalization,” said Godson. “Candidates are wondering, ‘So how do I make this personal to me.’”

McDonald’s career site is built around providing a heightened level of personalization. Candidates can ask questions to McDonald’s AI assistant, Olivia, and she will literally shift the site’s UI to deliver the exact content that the candidate is looking for. 

If a candidate uploads their resume, Olivia will tell them about jobs that match their experience near their location. And if candidates ask a question like, “Do you help pay for my college?” Olivia will send them content about McDonald’s Archways to Opportunity program.

With Olivia, McDonald’s has curated a proactive experience that personalizes each site visit towards the specific user.

“[With AI] we can make applying much like it was years ago,” said Godson. “When you wanted a job, a recruiter would say, ‘Tell me about you.’”

McDonald’s career site operates under a similar sentiment, back when hiring experiences happened primarily face to face. Candidates dictate their own journey, and based on their specific interests, decide what content is valuable to them. 

Optimizing the candidate experience.

Across all examples, Godson and Shaker emphasized that the career site experience should be driven by the candidate, personalized to their needs and preferences. They shouldn’t be inundated by a boatload of information that isn’t relevant to them, and they shouldn’t need a map to find what they’re looking for.

“Set up the career site through specific content geared to [candidates], but then also give an experience in terms of making it [easy] to apply,” said Shaker.

Or in other words, the trifecta: Give the right message, in the right places, to make the right conversion.

Written by
Jack Dimond
Contributing Author
Jack Dimond
Written by
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