By Jessica Miller-Merrell 
A few weeks ago I served as a judge evaluating career sites submitted by recruiting teams for a large consortium. I took my job very seriously. As a judge I had the unique opportunity to see what was under the hood of a number of large as well as small organizations career sites as well as how the changes they made impacted traffic, time on site and the number of pages viewed by those visiting.
As part of my evaluation, I visited the career sites and see what the experience was like for a job seeker and me. I visited each site from my desktop as well as my mobile phone. Aside from their submitted narratives, I focused on five important pieces on what makes a career site a place a candidate wants to be.
Mobile. Mobile. Mobile.
The experience should be pleasant for the mobile visitor. As a candidate I should not have to pinch and zoom or rotate my phone or tablet screen to enhance my time on your career site. Making candidates jump through these hoops is costing you not just quality hires but best in class employees.
Think Like a Marketer.
Your career site should no longer look like a career site. It needs to be a full on experience that is the visual essence of your company. Marketing is visually appealing. It’s pretty. It’s branded and easy for scanning and page filled words that scream I optimized my website for SEO in 2009. Work with a graphic designer and/or your marketing team to help create and align your branding efforts so they are cohesive. In the new world of the job search, marketing is everything.
Joining a Talent Community Should Be Easy.
One of the reasons I like and work with TalentCircles is because you can join their talent community simply by giving the community permission to access your LinkedIn, Google or Twitter account. Joining a talent network or community should not require 15 questions and a resume upload especially when I’m probably joining your talent community from my phone because I don’t have the time or interest to apply for your job opening immediately.
Less Text. More Pretty. 
This goes beyond thinking like a marketer and just focusing on the experience through the eyes of the candidate. Visual graphics, photos, gifs and videos can be used instead of text to tell the story of your culture, job requirements or what makes your company a great place to work. I’m a writer and absolutely love text but I’m also a visual aids.
Focus on Metrics Like Quality of Hire Instead of Simply Web Traffic Increase.  Not all the entries included information about current metrics and measurements but the majority of them listed their web traffic as a quality metric and I disagree. While web traffic is important, I’m more interested in understanding the best source of hire based not only on cost of hire but in evaluating turnover and retention metrics. Not one of the entries listed their data source as a drop down box, which made me very happy.
Serving as a judge was a honor but I’m also reminded how far we, as recruiters yet to go. The bar to having a best in class career site is still very achievable because of the time and effort intensity. Building and executing an recruitment strategy like this takes time, sweat and more than a few tears. It may be 6 months or more before you are able to see and even measure results.
Your career site is the center of your recruiting universe. It’s a destination where your talent goes not only to apply for job openings directly but to learn about your organization in an environment that you have the ability to fully design, develop and control that showcases why your organization is a place that candidate should consider working.

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s is the Chief Blogger & Founder of Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @jmillermerrell 


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