Corporate Eye

Back to Basics

Illuminated 17th century Danish bestiary

Imagine a parallel Internet universe, where the hyperlink doesn’t exist and the cost of making video is a million dollars a minute. No Flash either. No Java, no Shockwave, not even animated GIFs. In short–nothing moves …

So essentially, your web page in this universe is exactly like a page in a magazine or a book. Just words, and ordinary, motionless pictures. How would you get your message across? And what would it be?

In this universe you have to tell a job-seeker everything they need to know on one page. That means you have to determine exactly what information is necessary, and present it in an effective order. The information has to be clear and complete, because it’s not going to be clarified or amplified somewhere else. The text has to be well-written and interesting, because there aren’t going to be revolving pictures and talking heads to entertain the visitor.

Tough assignment!

I started thinking about this topic after accidentally landing on the Employment page of The Meadows Racetrack and Casino. I had just looked at twenty sites that used every trick except dancing girls to sell their message, so I was fairly startled by the retro simplicity at The Meadows. But since I happened to be at the site—and there wasn’t anything else to look at on the page—I read the message. And it was so clear, so personal, so inviting that I really wanted to get a job there.

Obviously, such a radically minimalist strategy can’t work for most companies. But this true story is a reminder that good content can be more important than slick presentation. Also that more is not necessarily better.

If you want to spend a little time on sharpening the Careers message, here’s an exercise. Take a look at your company’s existing site and imagine what a visitor would take away if they landed on the Careers home page and never did anything but read. Clicked no links, watched no videos. Just read the one page.

Back to basics

Some questions to consider:

  • If a visitor had no prior knowledge about the company, could they get a basic idea of its business identity?
  • Is there enough information to provide visitors with a general understanding of how the company finds, retains, and rewards employees?
  • Does the message highlight the most important things a visitor needs to know? Is the approach direct and personable?
  • Will visitors have the tools—and the desire—to take next steps?

I’d love to hear from any readers who try this exercise, so please share your findings! And in the next post, I’ll do a 180 degree turn to explore the latest, hottest trends for recruiting on the website.

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Cynthia Giles has followed a serpentine career path from academia to publishing to marketing and design to information technology and corporate communications. There’s plenty of detail about this journey at www.cynthiagiles.com, but briefly--the common theme has been ideas, and how to present them effectively. Along the way, she became an accidental expert on data warehousing and business intelligence, and for the past ten years she has combined corporate contracting with an independent consulting practice that focuses on marketing strategy for smaller businesses and non-profits. Having spent quite a bit of time looking for work, and anywhere from two weeks to two years inside a wide variety of American companies—she has given much thought to what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to creating a great employment fit.
 
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