Business White Paper

Design for Job Seekers Conversion

How to convert job seekers into qualified candidates

Design for job seeker conversion

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is the art of persuading your candidates to take actions that lead to their viewing more vacancies, increasing the number of online applications and getting more job interviews. This white paper focuses on WCC’s capabilities for optimizing recruitment websites. WCC provides a solution for challenges such as: dealing with increased traffic and job applications improving the number of qualified candidates reducing acquisition costs lowering fall-out rates engaging more candidates

Conversion Rate Optimisation
CRO uses a wide variety of techniques to meet these challenges, including writing persuasive vacancy texts, converting casual visitors into applicants with the help of a conversion-oriented usability design, and reducing the number of clicks it takes a visitor to apply. CRO also uses search engine optimization, which leads to more vacancies being found, which in turn increases the number of visitors whom you are ultimately able to convert to applicants.

Conversion rate optimization is the art of persuading your job seekers.

By planning, designing and optimizing your website to
Job seekers visiting your website Job seekers looking at vacancies

persuade job seekers, you ensure that it becomes a

more efficient recruitment tool. A conversion-optimized job recruitment site is a successful (but free!) digital recruiter who works for you 24/7, 365 days a year, qualifying candidates, building rapport and getting people to work.


Job seekers applying for a job


WCC is a global leader in search and match technology. It’s flagship product, ELISE, delivers fast and accurate matching for many of the largest staffing firms and public employment services worldwide. By developing solutions around WCC’s ELISE smart search and match software, recruiters, job boards, staffing agencies and government departments of labor can easily, quickly, and most effectively connect candidates and jobs that are best suited for each other.

Job seekers invited to an interview Job seekers offered a contract

15 5

Increase the number of job applications
The importance of CRO becomes clear in light of the poor performance of unoptimized recruitment sites, with average conversion rates between 1% and 2%. Although “your mileage may vary,” you can expect highquality optimization to boost conversion rates by 50% to 200%, or even more: some recruitment sites have reported increases of over 600% in only six months.

Figure 1: optimizing the conversion funnel


Design for job seeker conversion

Design for job seeker conversion

With margins falling and advertising costs rising, a highperforming recruitment website has become essential for online success. CRO helps you meet the following business goals: getting more job applications and more candidate interviews addressing the shortcoming(s) of your website Most website owners focus on getting more traffic to boost online sales. But paying to advertise an underperforming website is throwing good money after bad. In contrast, CRO makes your website work harder for you by producing more qualified candidates from your existing website traffic. Its goal is to make every site visit count.
Figure 2: example goal conversion funnel, courtesy Google

The key is testing various combinations to see which version works best for your visitors. By testing methodically, you remove the element of subjectivity from your website’s design. You or I might like a bright orange background, but if ten times as many candidates apply when the background is green, would you not start to prefer that color?

Several factors determine which features of a search solution your site should use. The main factor is the size of your vacancy database. The more vacancies a recruitment site has, the more difficult it is for candidates to find the right products. Advanced site searching with dynamic navigation helps job seekers quickly sift through thousands of vacancies in just a few clicks.

The key is that we learn what works by testing various combinations.
Using interpreted data from your analytics environment and search & match engine, instead of guessing and hoping for the best, will allow you to systematically improve conversions to the most important pages of your website.

Site search optimization
If your recruitment site has hundreds of vacancies, you may want to consider implementing a more sophisticated site search to help your candidates find what they need quickly.

Large staffing firms and employment agencies in particular can benefit from deploying a single search and information access platform across their extended organization. These companies have a variety of search needs, including in-store search, mobile search and call-center search. Large organizations that choose a single search platform to address all of these requirements gain economy of scale and enjoy true return on investment.

Website analytics
Designing for conversion is one thing, but testing it is another. Using empirical data from your website’s analytics environment and your search log, backoffice and applicant tracking system (ATS), enables you to construct conversion funnels. Determining the changes with the most positive impact can be done with the help of advanced multivariate testing software A common tool of choice is Google Website Optimizer, which allows for quick, easy, and accurate testing of several elements on a single page.

Organizations running a hundred or fewer vacancies generally only need to make sure that their site’s navigation has been designed effectively. But for recruitment sites with over a hundred postings,

Implementing an advanced and finely tuned site search solution gives organizations the benefit of increased conversion rates. It helps job seekers narrow down their selection quickly, increasing the likelihood they will apply for a job. Site searching may also be used to cross-sell related vacancies to job seekers, which is another way of increasing the number of job applications. Current site search solutions are often too basic: they lack the capability to handle spelling correction, fuzzy matching or data analytics. That is why many existing recruitment sites yield “Sorry, no matches found” for vacancies that are actually available.

What is multivariate testing?

The goal of CRO is to make every site visit count.

an advanced site search solution will be beneficial in many ways, including for increasing conversion rates. A 2010 study by IBM showed that 30% of visitors use site search, resulting in a conversion rate ranging between 6-8%. These are significant numbers compared to the conversion rates from navigational traffic: 1-2%, from natural search traffic: 2-3% and from direct traffic: 3-5%.

The term multivariate testing is used to describe tests with multiple variables. A multivariate test could consist of changing your website’s heading, some vacancy content, and perhaps a call-to-action button.

With this information, you can figure out what makes your candidates apply or leave your site. Recommendations can then be made for changes that will increase traffic to your site. Next, you determine which of these actions leads to success. The changes are tested live on your website and the results are tracked automatically. Usually, within a month or two, you will know exactly which combination is the “winner”.



Design for job seeker conversion

Design for job seeker conversion

Poor search results equal lost opportunities — it is that simple. Visitors do not have the time or patience to try different variations of search keywords and phrases and ultimately abandon the site altogether. Many recruitment sites still feature homegrown search engines that are not scalable or customizable, leaving visitors frustrated.

Website elements such as titles, URL structure, meta descriptions, site maps, and the website structure in general, help search engines ascertain what a page is about.

In addition to having content on a company’s culture,

Good written vacancies drive traffic and add to conversion.

benefits and first interview advice, there are some content strategies your competition may be ignoring: acquire websites and redirect them to yours. This

To do this, identify a portfolio of keywords to target and make the most competitive, higher traffic keywords appear more prominently in your site structure. This creates a hierarchical pyramid of keyword targeting that will be very helpful for your site’s SEO.

may sound like a very expensive strategy, but it does not have to be. Acquire a list of organizations in the recruitment arena that have gone bankrupt. Usually, their websites will have built up some authority. After redirecting, this authority is transferred from the acquired site to yours, adding to your positioning in the search engines.

Poor search results equals lost opportunities – it’s that simple.

Natural Search Engine Optimization
It is no big secret that a having a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy in place helps organizations tap into the pool of candidates that start their job search on search engines. In this respect, the importance of Natural Search Engine Optimization or Organic SEO should not be underestimated. A recruitment site built using SEO best practices will generate organic traffic, making your organization less dependent on job boards, ad campaigns or affiliate networks. When optimizing your site for search engines, three elements need to be orchestrated: 1. Technology infrastructure This is the bread and butter of SEO. Make sure your website’s Content Management System offers a structure that enables search engines’ crawlers to determine the relevance of your pages.

Figure 3: elements of SEO

2. Content A good portion of your SEO campaign’s success revolves around the content of your recruitment site. In the eyes of search engines, quality content is king. The more you offer, the better. If you have ever wondered why your competitor has better search engine visibility than you do, find out how many pages of content they have. For instance, Career Builder has over 1.2 million pages indexed in Google. However, vacancy content tends to remain published for too short a time to add any lasting value to your website’s ranking. And this is exactly why there needs to be an interplay between a site’s navigational structure and its content. As you build your site’s content or set about optimizing what content you already have, it pays to think strategically about the type of site structure the search engine is going to reward.

Here’s an illustration of why a site needs to be structured as a hierarchical pyramid of keywords. Since your home page is where people generally link to when they talk about your business or product, this is the page that contains most of the “link juice.” To vie for really competitive keywords, you will need all of this link juice. It makes strategic sense to concentrate on these highly competitive terms for your home page . Each time you move down your site’s structure and away from your home page, the “link juice” gets diluted: your pages become a bit less powerful in terms of link equity. This means that these deeper pages should target slightly to significantly less competitive keywords. The good news is that for lower volume, highly specific topics, you don’t need much link juice or link equity to rank for the terms because they face less competition in the search results.

add your recruitment website to free job boards or meta-crawler job sites like Indeed, Jobrapido and Trovit. This increases both the number of visitors and of incoming links to your site. Note that oddly enough, most job boards will prevent search engines from indexing your pages. Optimize your Google Places account. If your organization works through branches, this strategy could yield a number 1 position in Google fast. Those with a strong social strategy get a growing amount of editorially-earned links daily. If your organization is not publishing web content and involving itself in building a thriving community of subscribers, it will forever be positioned behind competitors agile enough to do so. While you keep

3. Link building There are many techniques that can be used to garner inbound links to your recruitment site; however, the one most favored by search engines is to build links naturally, by offering unique content of the kind that people naturally want to link to.

trying to build links arithmetically to static content, your competition earns those ultra-valuable organic links daily, as their community is conditioned to anticipate quality and ready to share.



Design for job seeker conversion

Design for job seeker conversion

Why social is a future proof SEO strategy
1. The engines are continuously getting smarter Search engines are getting smarter at interpreting links and user data. The evolution takes place right before our eyes: their algorithms advance side-by-side with how we use the web. Search engines already know how to treat different kinds of links and will only get smarter
Figure 4: optimizing for Google Places

Communities offer so much inspiration that if you build yours properly, ideas will emerge naturally.

Vacancy content that is seeded through social networks like Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter or those that use social media buttons is more likely to end up in the higher regions of Google ranking.

Those with a strong social strategy get a growing amount of editoriallyearned links daily.

The position of content on your web pages also makes a significant difference in your website conversion and flow-through. Visitors scan pages from the right and then to the left in

at it. Truly deserved, organic, editorial links will only continue to increase in value. 5. Not only earn links, but digital PR 2. Fresh content = more hooks in the water for search Simply put, the more content you have on your site, the more you will cover the long tail in your niche and snag traffic from search engines. Fresh content also keeps your site updated, which gives visitors a reason to come back. People are too used to sites being social to want to visit static sites. 3. The engines like frequently updated sites Feed those indexes with fresh content and get rewarded with frequent visits by search spiders. Persevere, and content from your site should get indexed in just a few hours after publishing. 4. Social is sustainable Nurture your community and function as an honest, valuable contributor; a social strategy is highly sustainable. If you truly take an interest in your subject matter, you will never run out of fresh content and ideas to build your community, web traffic and links. Links are not the be all, end all of SEO – getting that digital ink and endorsement from influential members of the community is another pivotal part of building up your digital reputation. an F-shaped pattern. They focus less on the right side of web pages, or on areas that look like ads. Because most people first focus on the left side of the screen, navigation options are best put here. The right side of the screen works well for testimonials, calls to action and application forms. Vacancy content is best placed in the center of the page.

Social SEO
The social web and search results support each other, and are becoming increasingly intertwined. This goes beyond a merely passive connection: the two create an active, virtuous cycle that grows more powerful each day. The link between search and social media will only tighten as the engines and the social web innovate and integrate together in ways which make both more valuable. From the standpoint of staying relevant and at the cutting edge, they need each other. They work together for the benefit of users, but site owners can benefit too by creating a strategy that embraces the connection. The web itself has always been social; its search and social aspects have already reached the convergence point. The future will see an even closer, symbiotic relationship between them. A good example of this is tight integration is Google+.

Compelling vacancy content wins
Notice how the cycle starts with compelling content – without it, you have nothing, and no other parts of the cycle will matter. The social web will link to the best content naturally; you cannot win against competitors who have this element on their side. Both search and social aspects will only keep getting better at filtering, so there is no reason to be boring... unless you want to be ignored. On recruitment sites, vacancy content is the most important content to offer visitors. Well-written vacancies drive traffic to the website and increase conversion rates.

Job seekers have frequently criticized difficult navigation in recruitment site usability surveys. Visitors who cannot find what they are looking for will bail out of your site and look elsewhere. A site’s design should allow candidates to get where they want to go quickly and easily, with a minimum number of clicks. Avoid using internal jargon which visitors may not understand. Feature a consistent integrated navigation design using popular conventions. Write compelling, benefit-oriented link texts to encourage candidates to click to your vacancies. Longer link text has been shown to convert better than shorter link text. But most of all, ensure that the vacancy text encourages conversion.



Design for job seeker conversion

Design for job seeker conversion

The funnel pictured earlier in this paper shows three basic steps that job seekers progress through: Step 1. A job seeker looks for a particular job, finds a relevant vacancy on your website and navigates to that page Step 2. Depending on the quality and relevance of the vacancy, the jobseeker decides to apply; Step 3. Depending on the quality and relevance of the job seeker’s resume, the employer decides to invite the job seeker to an interview. Step 1 is mostly a matter of findability and usability as described in the previous paragraphs. Step 2 has to do with the completeness and attractiveness of the vacancy text. Step 3 deals with the completeness and attractiveness of the resume text and with matching skill sets. Before you start optimizing your website for conversion, you need to know if there is a discrepancy between what candidates are looking for on your site and what your vacancies are offering. This is called a mismatch analysis.

A mismatch analysis explains why there is no 100% match between the candidate’s requirements and the job offerings. Companies can perform a mismatch analysis to investigate where to focus their attention when optimizing for conversion. For instance, the analysis may show that a candidate is looking for a company car, but the vacancy text makes no mention of one. Companies can perform a mismatch analysis to investigate what is missing in its job offer. The candidates ask for a company car while the company is not offering one. Mismatching data can also be used to determine whether candidates are underqualified or whether they require too much of a job. This gap information is highly valuable to job marketeers and recruiters.

While search engines present a tremendous opportunity to attract new employees, it is important to diversify online marketing in a way that also benefits overall search marketing. Consider the following suggestions:

businesses and governments and their customers to find people, products or services that best fit their requirements in sub-second response time. WCC’s technology is used by many of the largest staffing

Optimize your content so it can be easily found through the search engines of social sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Get your mobile apps to match the right search criteria on the Android marketplace or on iTunes. Use remarketing technology to identify and tag your website’s lost visitors and then display your banner ad to them on a different site they are browsing at a later stage. This repeated brand exposure will increase the number of return visits to your website and the number of conversions from casual visitor to job seeker ready to apply.

firms, job boards and Public Employment Services in the world. Its flagship product ELISE is also utilized in the security and identity management industries.

About the author
Marco van Hurne is product marketing manager at WCC. Prior to WCC, Mr. van Hurne was General Manager at a leading staffing agency in Europe, where he was responsible for Innovation and Online Developments. Mr. van Hurne’s career spans over 15 years in Internet, marketing and business development. He has held a number of leadership positions with different high tech companies. He also served as commercial and strategy director at one of Europe’s leading online marketing agencies.

The knowledge gained from mismatch analyses can be used to create landing pages for (Social) SEO purposes or to set goals for conversions in your analytics environment. By designing your recruitment site for conversion, you are turning your website into a powerful persuasion machine. Recruitment sites that are conversion-optimized yield more applications and interviews. CRO uses persuasive vacancy copywriting and credibility-based web design to encourage job seekers to apply. These factors combined will result in converting a significantly higher number of visitors into applicants. But companies that hyper-focus on any singular online channel are not only putting all their eggs in one basket, they also put themselves at a real disadvantage when it comes to search engine marketing.

Optimization beyond your website
Core to many marketing strategies is to “fish where the fish are”.

More information About WCC
WCC is a market leader in developing and licensing high-performance search & match software that helps For more information about Conversion Rate Optimization and the CRO service, please email:

Figure 4: optimizing for Google Places



Design for job seeker conversion

WCC Services B.V. Savannahweg 17 Utrecht 3542 AW The Netherlands Tel. +31 30 750 3200 Fax +31 30 750 3299

Washington DC Office: Two Fountain Square Reston Town Center 11921 Freedom Drive Reston Suite 550 VA 20190

Tel. +1 703 904 4320


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