The metamorphosis of the web over the past two decades has been truly momentous. While it’s easy to forget how far user experience has evolved in recent years, relics from the dot com bubble such as 90’s movie websites remain suspended in time as a firm reminder of the past. Once cutting edge marketing platforms, these largely forgotten pages now simply highlight the rapid pace of change that consumers have learned to expect in terms of not only design, but also usability. However, HR remains largely ‘behind the eight ball’ when it comes to offering stakeholders the requisite consumer grade experience. 

The impact that candidate experience has on employer brand is undisputable – and employees and jobseekers are now more discerning than ever before. According to a recent report from global ecommerce brand, Vistaprint Digital, nearly 60 per cent of 1,800 US consumers said they would be less likely to purchase from a business if they had a bad impression of the website. Furthermore, data from software provider, Dynatrace, suggests that one in four people abandon a page that takes more than four seconds to load.

It is worth remembering that these sophisticated, time-poor users and the talent that companies are looking to engage with are one and the same. With this in mind, it is crucial that HR embraces the careers website of the future.   

In order to convert web users into talent, HR professionals must reconsider how their website’s design affects their brand’s entire internet presence – and keeping ahead of the curve is tough. According to a recent survey of 6,000 business leaders by software developer HubSpot, 57 per cent of respondents are planning on redeveloping their website within the next year, with the average company now redeveloping its site every 18 to 24 months. It’s no longer enough to keep up with the competition, organisations must move beyond page aesthetics and mobile responsiveness to stay relevant. But what does the website of the future actually look like?


It may sound a bit ‘big brother’, but programmatic methods are the future of online engagement. Based on search history, we as consumers are fed ads related to how we engage online. This technology should be harnessed to target or retarget candidates – and to ensure that we continually collect data through user behaviour. From a talent engagement perspective, this information can prove invaluable. For example, if a user logs in from London, but their search history is centred around Leeds, they may be looking to relocate. In the same vein, if someone is searching local community initiatives they should receive messages about CSR, or if they are looking into education they can be shown CPD opportunities.

Lanes for personas

The website of the future does not take a ‘one size fits all’ approach to engagement. Big data can be made available for all websites through close integration of analytics, advertising and search preferences as well as feedback from recruiters on the ground. This, in turn, brings about the possibility to customise the website’s look and performance for particular user personas, by directing them into different ‘lanes’.

The people your brand wants to attract will not all respond well to the same approach. Engineers and sales candidates, for example, are likely to seek a different candidate experience. It is key, therefore, that your site has the functionality to create different journeys which allow candidates to find what they’re looking for and organisations to get to know them better. For example, individuals interested in certain job roles may be invited to be assessed on skills and capabilities not visible on standard CVs, while other lanes may include diverting communications offline.

Responding to the future of work

The rise of the gig-economy is encouraging a more ‘Uber-esque’ approach to recruitment – and careers sites must respond to account for that. Careers sites today, for example, may benefit from promoting assignment based, and jobshare options. For candidates not sure what they are seeking, we need to reposition the way we engage by perhaps using AI or web chat to help them ‘find their fit’ and direct them to a role accordingly.

Of course, building a website of the future is not without its challenges. We cannot ignore the fact that any website redesign is a resource-heavy project, and existing outdated ATSs can be a barrier to engagement – in this instance it is advisable to navigate around ATS systems rather than be directed by them.  

However, the way we gather information, communicate and work is shifting in response to technological innovation – and the way that HR engages with both jobseekers and existing employees must respond in line with user expectations. The website of the future must balance aesthetic design and usability with a means to achieving wider business objectives. 

While websites must currently be intuitive to reflect the way we browse today, future opportunities for careers sites are immense. Tomorrow’s sites have the potential to become more suitable to interact with hardware like cameras, fingerprint scanners, VR headsets and wearables to track and engage with jobseekers. For innovative organisations, the potential to engage talent through technology is endless.

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