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Why brands must pay attention to user experience

As seen in The Drum

02 September 2019

The hand of a woman using her phone

Over the last couple of months, we’ve noticed one universal and increasingly pressing issue that consistently emerges in conversation with our clients: the careers section of their website.


Our clients understand the importance of user experience (UX) design for their overall business. They also grasp the need to foster a culture that not only retains but attracts the best talent. And yet, when it comes to their careers section, the same effort and consideration lags far behind. This part of their website often feels like an afterthought, overlooked and simply a poor representation of their good intentions.


What’s going on? Well, in most cases, companies delegate their careers portal to a third-party supplier which handles the influx of applications on their behalf and filters back potential candidates, who (hopefully) fit the bill.


Yes, it’s true that this method could save you a lot of time and money. But at what cost?


Let’s break down the applicant’s experience:


  1. Faye is interested in working for global organisation, Nozama, and visits their website.
  2. She explores the corporate website, watches a couple of videos, reads a bit about the culture… so far so good! She’s convinced this is a company she could work for.
  3. There’s a nice, big call to action button asking her to see "current opportunities". She clicks and disaster strikes — here’s where the experience starts to fall apart.
  4. Suddenly, she finds herself on a site that looks and feels different. But it’s one she’s seen over and over again since starting her job search: the same boring, generic job application platform.
  5. She’s found a role but before she can apply, she’s asked to follow several steps to create an account with this third-party platform.
  6. She exits the page and terminates the application process. The company has just lost the attention, and the interest, of potentially the best candidate for the role.


Most of us who have gone through the job search process will be familiar this scenario.


So, what went wrong?


A matter of trust


Faye developed a personal rapport with Nozama through its site — little details like brand design and tone of voice helped her imagine what it would be like to work for the company. She was excited about the brand ‘personality’ she connected with, but when she was redirected to a third-party site, the connection and journey were disrupted and she was reduced to feel like just another generic applicant. In a matter of seconds, Faye decided that there was no point in continuing with her application, perhaps because she felt that her application would be one among a pool of other generic applications and the chances of being look at would be slim.


Companies work hard to perfect the external end-to-end brand experience. Why should the UX for potential candidates be any different?


A question of time


Time is another reason why managing your careers portal in this way can cost you the best and most qualified applicants. Faye could be a stellar employee with an even more impressive resume, desperate to leave her current role and find a new job. She doesn’t really have a preference which company she works for, just as long as the job is interesting and the company culture suits her.


She’s applying to several companies a day, perhaps during her lunch break, so time is of the essence – it’s a numbers game – and she doesn’t have time to be redirected to external sites or create a profile for each company she’s applying to.


How can you fix it?


Understand and experience the user flow


Put yourself in Faye’s shoes. When was the last time you applied for a new role? Go through your company’s careers application process and think about how you would respond to it as a candidate. Would you make it to the final stage of the process?


Keep it simple and fast


Attention spans are diminishing – fast. Don’t let multiple clicks turn a simple process into a drawn out one. Or, at least let the user know how many steps will be involved with a "set aside five minutes to complete your form" message.


Make it distinctly you


The best option is to build and manage your own careers page, giving you greater control over the applicant experience, brand integrity and content. But, if you must outsource your careers portal to a third-party supplier, make sure that it accurately reflects your brand so that there’s a seamless transition from your website. Work with your third-party developer team or agency partner and have an honest conversation about customisation to achieve a quick win here.


Good talent is invaluable. And with more digital-savvy candidates out there, companies need to think carefully about how they’re going to win them over. Your careers page is the best place to start.


By Tabrez Ahmad


Tabrez is a user experience designer. Born and bred in Glasgow, he’s happiest when working on projects that involve branding, digital design, UI design and UX design.


This article originally appeared in The Drum. To read it, click here.