Redesigning Your Jobs Website? How Inbound Job Recruiting Can Help

Job seekers have changed dramatically over the past ten years.

The problem is, most job websites haven’t changed at all.

It used to be that if a candidate wanted to learn more about your company, culture, or team, they had to ask a recruiter. Fast forward to present day and 73% of job seekers start their search on Google (CareerBuilder, 2015). Employers don’t start or control the conversation today, and companies need to act accordingly. That’s why when we redesigned HubSpot’s jobs website, we took an inbound recruiting approach to match our candidate experience to the way people find jobs today.

Inbound recruiting at HubSpot

Inbound recruiting is about creating a remarkable candidate experience that helps your company attract and hire top talent. How? By thinking like a marketer. Consider this: If you’re a business today, buying ad space on TV or a billboard isn’t a great way to reach future customers. People aren’t receptive to interruptive advertising anymore. They’re drawn to helpful, engaging interactions. That’s why over the past decade, thousands of companies have started using inbound marketing to attract, engage, and delight customers.

What we’re seeing happen in the recruiting world today isn’t all that different. Old-school hiring tactics simply don’t work anymore; job seekers are gravitating toward companies who invest in their culture, employment brand, and candidate experience. HR professionals should follow suit by taking a page from the inbound marketing playbook and creating remarkable interactions using content. (Hint: This is where your jobs website comes in.)

Remarkable, in part, means relevant. Top talent and passive candidates typically aren’t knocking down our doors. So, we need to meet them where they are and add value. That’s why it’s so important to understand the candidate journey and how your employment brand fits in every step of the way.

Borrowing from the inbound marketing and sales methodology, this is how we think about the four stages of inbound recruiting. Looking at the examples of touch points throughout the journey, notice where your jobs website fits in. Traditionally, companies think of their site as part of the attract stage. The reality is, job seekers first learn about your company by checking Glassdoor, scanning social media, and look for your name in the news. Then they visit your website. Understanding how, when, and why people interact with job websites today was the first step in redesigning our own at HubSpot.

How we took our jobs site inbound

For HubSpot’s jobs site to walk the walk on inbound recruiting, we knew we needed to put ourselves in the candidate’s shoes every step of the way. That would influence everything from research and wireframes, to copywriting and video content. Here’s what that looked like in practice, and some tips for using inbound recruiting to redesign your own jobs site in the future.

Do your homework

When I first became the inbound recruiting program manager at HubSpot, I talked to recruiters, candidates, and employees across our global offices to understand how we were tracking on our candidate experience. There was overwhelming feedback about how “un-HubSpotty” our jobs site was at the time. For a company that invented inbound marketing and is passionate about culture, we missed with our site by creating an experience that looked inviting, but actually wasn’t too user-friendly.

So, we dug deeper into the feedback: What do you like about the site? What don’t you like? What’s the first thing you clicked on? Did you find what you were looking for? What do you mean when you say “un-HubSpotty”?

The responses and key themes helped us create sitemaps, run user tests, and iterate on wireframes page by page. Going straight to the source early in the planning process meant we could come up with a vision that solved for the candidate’s needs. So, instead of taking a shot in the dark or assuming what your audience wants, ask them. Investing in research upfront will save you time in the long run.

Start a conversation

We believe the candidate experience should be conversational, not transactional. On most job sites (including ours before we revamped it), the only opportunity to talk to a human is to submit an application and hope you hear back from a recruiter. And that’s if you’re lucky: Only 62% of job applications get a response (CareerBuilder, 2015). So what if you’re not ready to apply? Shouldn’t there be an option besides applying or closing your browser?

There's rarely a middle ground for someone in that research phase who isn't quite sure if your culture, position, or team is right for them. That not only hurts the candidate experience, but it hurts your ability to build a talent network. That’s why we looked at our site every step of the way and asked: Is this a two-way street?

To make the recruiting process more human and our recruiting team more accessible, we launched a Slack team called Careers Hub. Anyone can sign up, using an email address, and quickly get an invitation to join an instant chat platform where they can talk with HubSpot employees in real-time. Our recruiters, and HubSpot employees from various departments, check the chat room throughout the day and answer job seekers’ questions about our culture, application process, role requirements, and more.

As I write this, about 800 people have signed up for Careers Hub, and we’re always iterating on how we can make the channel more engaging and helpful at scale. The feedback so far, though, has been that job seekers appreciate the commitment to transparency and thinking outside the box to add value throughout the application process.

Solve for the candidate with content

Blogging is the bread and butter of any inbound marketing strategy. A blog helps you get found online through SEO, helps you engage with your audience over time, and is a platform for storytelling. So, we saw an inbound recruiting opportunity and launched HubSpot’s first careers blog, Move On Up, with our new jobs site.

Most careers blogs make the employer look great, but actually aren’t all that helpful or relatable for job seekers. We instead wanted to focus on creating content that would be universally helpful for professionals. That’s why you’ll notice that Move On Up offers advice, ideas, and stories that reach beyond HubSpot. A good example is the blog post, Video Interviews Are Here to Stay: How to Prepare For Your Debut, written by one of our recruiters. She made the content reader-centric by sharing tips that are valuable when interviewing with any company, not just with HubSpot.

The best part about a careers blog is that, similar to the Slack team, it starts a conversation. Readers can subscribe to Move On Up to get new blog content sent straight to their inbox. So whether they apply for a job at HubSpot today, tomorrow, or never, we can stay on top talent’s radar over time thanks to the great content our employees and recruiters write.

If we go back to the idea of inbound, it’s about creating helpful interactions. While a careers blog is a great way to give candidates a glimpse inside your culture, office, and perks, it’s an even better way to build relationships and a growing talent network by providing long-term value.

Show, don’t tell

What’s the best way to tell your employer brand story? Every company’s different, and at HubSpot, we leaned into content that was visual and interactive to tell ours. Transparency is a core tenet of our culture, so we wanted to make the candidate experience as transparent as possible. Instead of talking about how great our workplace, people, and values are, we decided that letting job seekers see for themselves would be more impactful.

A big question we get from candidates is “What would my day-to-day be like at HubSpot?” To show, not tell, we started by creating GoPro videos from all of our global offices to see first-hand what an “average” day of a HubSpotter is like. (Check out the Sydney, Australia video here.) You’ll see employees saying bye to their kids on the way to work, grabbing lunch with coworkers, and whiteboarding with their teams—all through their eyes.

Similarly, we worked with employees to use their Instagram photos on the site. For example, this page about our Product & Engineering team features photos they snapped themselves at team outings and events in the Behind the Scenes section. We have great, high-quality photographs of our office and team, too, but adding employee-generated content made the experience more authentic.

Showing job seekers what it’s like to be a HubSpotter, instead of telling them, through visual content isn’t just more engaging; we think it’s more honest, transparent, and helpful for the person trying to make conclusions about what it’s like to work at your company.

If you’re thinking about redesigning your jobs website, or making some updates here and there, I recommend starting with the candidate: Ask what they want and make their feedback part of the creation process. It will not only help you build a truly inbound site, from your videos to your copywriting, but it will help you think outside the box on how you can use your jobs site to attract, engage, and delight top talent.

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Hannah Fleishman Small

Hannah Fleishman is the Inbound Recruiting Program Manager at HubSpot. Hannah leads inbound recruiting initiatives at HubSpot to help attract top talent globally. She collaborates with recruiters to build the company's employment brand through personalized marketing. Before taking on recruitment marketing, Hannah was on HubSpot’s Public Relations team. Follow her on Twitter at @hbfleishman.

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Hiring Brand