Do you really think candidates believe that crap on your website?

You may think that the title of this article is unprofessional because it includes the word “crap.” If you think an alternate title like “increasing the readability of corporate messaging” would be more appropriate, you probably don’t buy into the concept of authenticity.

Allowing frank language on your website sends a message to cynical jobseekers that legal, marketing or corporate gate keepers have not been allowed to completely reduce your messaging to 100% blah blah. Messages that contain authentic factors are more likely to be read and believed.

Unfortunately, most corporate career websites violate most if not all of the rules of authenticity, an act that encourages job seekers to completely skip past all content and simply apply without regard to their fit.

Prior to the advent of the internet and social networking platforms, finding out what others knew and comparing stories was much more difficult, but today it’s standard practice to trust your network more. Like it or not, if you want to influence talent, you must become an expert in authenticity and you must accept that most see the content on your existing site for exactly what it is … crap.

The following list of factors will significantly add to the credibility, believability, and authenticity of your recruiting messages.

  1. Employee stories— short but powerful stories about the experiences of individual employees that bring to life the possible experiences a new employee might someday encounter. Stories that highlight how the entry-level, graduate or long-term worker becomes successful within the organisation are especially impactful as is a ‘day in the life of’ – anything really that provides a look-in at what it is like to work for your organisation.
  2. Include data— I once worked with an organisation that included a statement on its job ads that they offered ‘outstanding career development’.  This is what I call a ‘crap statement’.  What does ‘outstanding career development’ mean exactly?  When I investigated their source-of-hire, I found 50% of vacancies were filled with internal candidates who were moved globally.  What a powerful demonstration of outstanding career development!  As a candidate, I would be far more impressed and motivated by – ‘we fill 50% of all vacancies with internal hires moved globally’ than ‘we offer outstanding career development’.
  3. Average employee blogs— candid blogs written by your “average employee” can be a major contributor to authenticity if it is not edited or censored in any way. Blogs that include personal experiences, stories, and negative elements are the most powerful and most likely to be read. Organisations like Zappo’s, Microsoft and Google do this very well.
  4. Access to employees— nothing says that your employees are loyal to your organisation better than putting an employee’s complete name and title (and maybe even an e-mail address) in a profile or picture. Making it easy to contact them and verify their message shows that your organisation is comfortable that they speak on your behalf.  As a minimum, contact details must be included on a job advert!
  5. A chance to comment or ask questions— providing an opportunity to challenge a message or to ask specific questions builds authenticity because it adds two-way communications and it demonstrates an organisation’s responsiveness. Corporate product sites are good for benchmark learning because they contain many more authenticity factors then corporate career sites.
  6. Outside opinions and links— anytime you provide third-party assessment you automatically increase your credibility because you are providing a second opinion from a neutral party (eg “Best Place to Work” rankings etc.) Providing direct links to outside information sites or social network links (ie Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube etc) can also send a message that you are not afraid of outside opinions or information.
  7. Candid language— even though it will make some HR people nervous, it is appropriate to occasionally use frank language and blunt words in your messages.
  8. Help tips— a job search makes everyone nervous, so organisations that go out of their way to provide company-specific information on what exactly what to expect, what they’re looking for, and frequently asked questions quickly earn authenticity points. Generic information and tips add no value.

It’s easy to think “no one does it this way”, but you would be wrong.  Corporate sites like Microsoft and Google provide excellent examples of how to be more authentic and believable. There is a wide and ever-widening gap between average firms and those rare firms that have learned the difference between posting a corporate message and having that message read and believed. How courageous is your organisation in moving to authentic communication and engagement with candidates?