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Designing a recruitment site focused on the applicant’s aspirations

A surprisingly delightful collision of your values and their goals

Discovering the best talent for your business can be akin to finding a needle in a haystack. Keeping that talent from drifting off to a competitor is a challenge that most businesses face — even Facebook scored second in a list compiled by Business Insider of the 50 best places to work according to employees.

While some may be willing to speak off the cuff about what will keep them at an organisation, the challenge to get staff to open up can seem insurmountable as most of us don’t want to be caught out speaking out of turn.

Our study’s conclusions matched the client’s Universum results. And then we worked on improving them.

We recently had a client who recognised the need to keep on improving and they wanted to add some extra TLC when it came to recruiting staff. We’d been working with this client to improve the recruitment section of their website but believed a workshop would help our client, and us, nail down the direction and refine the goals.

The word “workshop” can cause involuntary groans and in some cases, nervous sweats as you think about being locked in a windowless room with a seemingly endless PowerPoint presentations, so we decided to take a different approach. We held five, rapid-fire 45-minute sessions over the course of one day in Sydney’s idyllic Darling Harbour.

As the sun shone over one of the most beautiful urban locations on Earth, we rolled up our sleeves and got to workshopping, forgoing PowerPoint in favour of a more grass roots approach to figuring out our client’s main goal: getting down to the nitty gritty of what really lures potential recruits to choose one company over another.

For the first session, we pulled in our client’s recruiters and human resource team to let them vent about what didn’t and to celebrate what did work. In a roundtable discussion with the assistance of some trusty whiteboards to quickly capture their thoughts and ideas, we found out what trends they were seeing, what kind of recruits stood out for them and who their traditional and non-traditional competitors were. Being able to see it all written out in front of them got everyone thinking.

For the next sessions, we pulled in our client’s most “recent” recruits — i.e. those who’d only been with the company from six weeks to nine months. Recruiters and HR staff acted as silent observers as we asked some tough and unexpected questions, including what the newbies wanted out of their next job — all while their current employer was in the room.

We wanted to get everyone thinking bigger and providing feedback that was more than politesse and platitudes.

Talk about daunting! But we wanted to get everyone thinking bigger and providing feedback that was more than politesse and platitudes. We asked the new recruits to think about their recent employment as a stepping stone and asked them to share where they wanted to go after this in terms of their career goals — needless to say, our silent observers nearly fell off their chairs!

It worked and the results were insightful. Trust was quickly established and we encouraged candour in the recruits. Each spoke about what initially attracted them to our client’s business, including;

  • what proved true once they started;
  • what surprises had popped up along the way and;

Some of the answers were surprising and we found overall, that these recruits were hungry for opportunities within the workforce to improve their skills to ultimately boost their careers on their way towards the next step. From this one-day workshop we identified what we called the applicant’s aspirations, which included:

  • work in a great team;
  • have societal impact and;
  • work in a place with start-up like vibes (in other words, people want to have fun at work!)

We were then able to draft a site structure and a schedule for writing and posting regular content on our client’s recruitment section of the site. The new structure and content delivered the new aspirations and attributes emphasis.

The end result? A website, unique from their competitors, that was geared towards a candidate’s aspirations rather than the business structure. And during the season following, applications went up by 50 per cent. Cheers to that!

Titbits and takeaways

There is freedom in starting from scratch and engaging stakeholders in deep and meaningful conversations — even if the end outcome is simply validating what you already have.

Consider whether you’ve taken an internal process and tried to make it client-centric, or if your messaging and content are genuinely focused on your end users’ needs.

Before designing a new website, take the time to explore your project priorities and ensure you understand your users’ motivations, needs and barriers — the outcome may surprise and/or delight you.

Transform the way the world sees you.