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Recruiting web sites: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Most recruiting firms do not have a clue as to what to do with their web site. What I most often see is their extreme attention to its appearance. A professional look is the common theme. Yes, they are correct in that it does have to be professional; however, it also must provide value to the visitor. There has to be a reason the visitor is happy that they have landed there, because they have gained something. The visitor does not just want to see pages of how good you are. When candidates visit, they need to see something that will help them in their job search and when clients visit, they need to see something that will help them in their candidate search. A few recruitment firms do a decent job of offering available positions for the candidates to review. Almost none offer anything for the client in the way of available applicants. Very few offer any supporting tools or informative material to help find and hire quality candidates. To be honest with you, I think most recruiting firms think of their web sites as something closely related to the sign they put on the front door of their office.

Perhaps I am being a little too harsh but a lot of my company’s time is spent connecting our recruiting software to a client’s web site and I am often thinking that these customers just don’t get it. I wrote an article a few months ago, “Recruiting on the Internet and the Future of Recruiting Software”. This article does point out what future recruiting web sites will be like just to be competitive.

“These web sites of the future will not simply be job boards like Monster, Career Builder or Dice. These exchanges will be run and operated by people with the knowledge of very specialized skills. The biggest change I see coming however is the ability of recruiters to market and the means with which they market to their customers and candidates.”

So, I finally get to my point. Recruiting firm web sites must be professional, “The Good”. Recruiting firm web sites must offer value to the visitor, right now mostly “The Bad”. Now on to “The Ugly”, recruiting firm web sites have to be found by the millions and soon to be billions of people using search engines like Google, MSN and Yahoo to find stuff like applicants and new jobs. Recruiting firms do not have a clue as to how to get ranked on the first page of Google when an applicant is searching for a position in their profession. Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter how great your web site looks or how many cool things you offer the visitor if it can’t be found. If the web site cannot be found, it is totally and utterly useless. Some recruiting firms still think they need to personally direct their clients and applicants to their web sites and then provide some functionality. Wrong and very wrong! If you have to direct applicants and clients to your web site like a guide leading a blind person then you’re missing the point of having a web site. You need to be found by the people who are looking and who are unknown to you!

If you go to Google and search for “recruiting software” you will find that our company “BlackDog Recruiting Software” ranks in the top five on the first page under the natural search rankings. Don’t confuse this with the paid for ads that appear on this page. People pay far more attention to the natural selections than the paid for ads. How did we get there and how do we stay there year after year? Here is a brief list of do’s and don’ts for good search engine ranking on the words you choose as key words.

* Don’t be so quick to turn this responsibility over to a Search Engine Optimizer, (SEO), who guarantees you number 1 ranking on Google. There are plenty of these companies out there and some are very good. However, most are very bad. The problem is that you won’t know until it is too late and your site is blacklisted or your site is held captive by this SEO with pages that are under the control of the SEO.
* Common sense usually dictates if you think it through. Google has a lot of useful information on how to produce a good web site that will rank well.
* Figure out the key words that your clients and applicants would use when they search for applicants and jobs. Use some of the Google tools to test these keywords and the frequency they are used. You may have to go off the beaten path for typical search words. Typically you look for high numbers. However, many recruiting firms are niche oriented to a specific skill or profession. So, high numbers on certain search terms may not even show up on the radar of Google but they can be extremely productive for the recruiting firm. Test the words out by running them in Google, MSN and Yahoo and see who comes up on the 1st page. Don’t get carried away with too many search words or phrases. You should concentrate on five to seven search words or phrases because you can’t use them all with any degree of density on your web site.
* Only focus on Google, Yahoo and MSN. No other search engines matter! Never get lured into those ads talking about getting you listed in thousands of search engines.
* Pay very close attention to your Title tag, your Keyword tag and your H1 heading tag on all your web pages, making sure that your keywords are used and in the proper density and placement.
* Don’t have less than 600 words on any page. Graphics are great but Search Engine Spiders have no appreciation for good art.
* Have a ton of content and pages on your web site. Don’t even think you will have a top ranked web site with about 20 pages. You need at least 50 pages.
* The pages must not grow stale; they must frequently change in some way with new and fresh content. Look into RSS feeds.
* Have outgoing links to web sites ranked high for your key words.
* Don’t use frames.
* Check the site constantly.
* Find some good software that helps you design a proper page that Google, Yahoo and MSN likes.

About the Author: Kenneth Peck Graduated from the University of Toledo. Fifteen years in IT from programmer to VP of IT. Spent the next 15 years as a recruiter in Los Angeles and built the product ‘Gopher for Recruiters’. Last 10 years improving the product ‘Gopher for recruiters’ and building the Company ‘BlackDog’ located in Colorado.

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