How to Build a Post-Social Online Career Center
By Peter Weddle, Hcareers.com
Today’s typical online career center has all of the appeal of a brick. Its one-off, transactional focus may be tolerated by desperate job seekers, but for high caliber prospects, it’s an invitation to spend time elsewhere. Those hard-to-recruit individuals have choices, so they demand a very different kind of experience, one that only a post-social Web-site can provide.
Unlike conventional social recruiting sites, a post-social online career center is designed to create and sustain a bond with employment candidates. Instead of relying solely on a technological connection, it reinforces that inanimate contact with a psychological connection. It promotes an individual’s career success rather than the organization and its open jobs. In effect, a post-social online career center is a “careerstead” – a home for individual careers – rather than an in-your-face recruitment advertising platform.
This interaction has several aspects that make it particularly appealing to talented workers.
• First, it focuses on them rather than on the employer. It is about their aspirations and success, not some opening’s requirements and responsibilities.
• Second, it is enduring rather than situational. It continues on regardless of a person’s employment status or the status of some opening.
• And third, it is a helpful resource rather than a sales job. It provides information and insights they can use to advance their career.
Those attributes are so rare, so outside the norm of what talented people experience at online career centers (or social media sites), they forge an allegiance to the organization that has two extraordinary sourcing and recruiting benefits:
• A heightened viral effect, because those who experience the site are so intrigued and pleased with what happens to them, they want to tell their peers about it. and
• A heightened employment propensity, because those who experience the site feel as if the organization has their best interests at heart.
A careerstead attracts more high caliber talent than conventional versions of such centers and transforms more of those visitors into applicants. And in this era of tight budgets, there’s no better return on an organization’s investment in an online career center.
The Features & Functionality of a Careerstead
An online career center that operates as a careerstead provides all of the content and capabilities typically offered job seekers as well as three unique aspects that are especially appealing to top talent:
• A way of organizing content so visitors don’t feel as if they’re “generic candidates;”
• The publication of high quality content for successful career self-management;
• The ability to network with their peers and the employer’s top employees.
Let’s take a brief look at each of them.
Avoiding the Generic Candidate Syndrome
The content on most conventional online career centers is written as if it’s appropriate for and useful to all candidates. In truth, however, a salesperson is likely to have very different interests and questions than a finance professional, and a finance professional, in turn, is likely to have a different outlook than an IT professional. Therefore, to ensure that each candidate feels as if they are being treated as an individual and in a way that actually serves their needs, the site’s content must be (a) organized into separate channels for each of the major demographics an employer recruits and (b) tailored to their particular perspective and information needs.
For example, each of the channels would describe what it’s like to work as an employee in the occupational field which it serves – sales, finance, IT and so on – and might include testimonials from current employees in that field to add human interest and/or conference presentations or publications by those employees to add credibility.
Adding Career Self-Management Content
The content on most online career centers focuses on providing information for active job seekers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, just 16 percent of the American workforce is in transition at any time. In other words, current career center content is irrelevant to four-fifths of all prospective visitors to a site. Therefore, to ensure those non-job seekers are engaged and helped by what they find on a site, it must (a) provide the knowledge and skills required for successfully managing a career in today’s turbulent economy and (b) help them deal with the issues and challenges that can derail a career (e.g., a biased boss, an incompetent coworker).
For example, the site might offer a self-study curriculum in career self-management that would keep people coming back to the site continuously and offer assessments and quizzes that could help them gauge their current status in the workplace and the health of their career.
Creating a Career Conversation
Most of today’s online career centers subject their visitors to a “unilog,” a one-sided conversation. The sites do all the talking (through dense, unexciting prose) and candidates are expected to sit back and take it. Of course, most of the best prospects don’t. What they want is a dialogue both with those who would be their colleagues if they went to work with the organization and, equally as important, with their peers. Therefore, to ensure that top talent has the kind of professional conversation that will attract and retain their interest, a site must provide (a) the functionality for an open but moderated discussion of occupational and industry topics and (b) a mechanism for interacting with employees in a representative range of career fields.
For example, the organization might set up a program which enables top employees to compete for a short (e.g., 3 month) assignment blogging on the site about what it’s like to work for the organization in their field. Participation could be promoted by providing selectees with a bump in their next performance appraisal score, a monetary reward or both.
The best talent are almost always employed. To recruit them, therefore, we have to convince them to do the one thing we humans most hate to do: change. Only a post-social online career center can create the psychological connection that predisposes them to do so.
Thanks for reading,
Visit me at Weddles.com
Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including A Multitude of Hope: A Novel About Rediscovering the American Dream, The Success Matrix: Wisdom from the Web on How to Get Hired & Not Be Fired, WEDDLE’s 2011/12 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet, The Career Activist Republic, and The Career Fitness Workbook: How to Find, Win & Hold Onto the Job of Your Dreams. Get them at Amazon.com and www.Weddles.com today.
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