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Your careers page is, in most cases, your first impression to a prospective candidate. It’s the single most important page for your employer branding. It’s what can make a candidate fall in love with your mission and apply right away—or quickly bounce and never come back.

So why doesn’t it ever seem to get its fair share of resources? For most companies, the careers page is like the middle child that never gets enough attention. Sure, it gets that yearly touch-up, but to the teams—typically marketing and engineering—that are gatekeepers of the company website, it’s otherwise a low priority.

And that’s a problem we want to help you fix with a better approach. Here are four steps that’ll not only give your careers page a much-needed upgrade, but also convince your marketing and dev teams to devote the time.


1. Dig Into Data

I probably don’t have to tell you that hard data makes the best case of all. So start by learning everything you can about the performance of your careers page, and you’ll have a sense of what you want to improve and how many candidates you’re impacting with a given change.

For these answers, you have to look beyond your ATS and dig into the web traffic. Google Analytics has incredible—and absolutely free—tools that make it easy to understand where traffic to a page comes from and how people behave on it (here's our Google Analytics 101 guide). Most companies have an analytics tool like this set up already, but you might have to do some digging if it’s not widely used.

Once you have access, you can find out things like: Which pages on your site keep people engaged for the most time? Which lead to the most clicks to other pages, or to job applications? Are more people looking at sales jobs or engineering? Where are candidates coming from? Maybe a blog post by your CEO is leading to a lot of Google search traffic that then goes to your careers page—you won’t know that until you look at the data.

From this starting point, you can suggest and justify improvements, and you’re talking the language of the people who work on web pages. It gives a developer or marketer a quantifiable reason to help you and an idea of the impact the work will have.


2. Look Through the Eyes of a Candidate

Now, it’s time for some qualitative research.

Find a few friends outside your industry—ideally friends who can’t readily explain what your company does—and send them your company’s career page. Based on the page, ask them to describe what your employees are like in five words.

Here, we’ll try it, too. The Muse’s HR Director Shannon Fitzgerald said she’d like to project these five traits:

High-energy, trusted, hard-working, passionate, thoughtful

Then, I asked two friends who don't work in startups—a law student and a fashion designer—to give me their take, based on our careers page:

Energizing, creative, deliberate, thoughtful, ambitious

Energizing, creative, collaborative, challenging, rewarding

That result was close to what we wanted to portray (which made our talent team very happy), but we’ve also put an exceptional amount of time and testing into these pages to get it right. But if your friends’ descriptions don’t quite match the employer brand you’re aiming for, then you can chart your course from there.

Not satisfied with just asking a few people? Try running a simple survey on your careers page with two simple questions, like “Are you more likely to apply for a job here after reading this page?” and “What else would you like to see on this page?” You can also go through the same “five traits” exercise with your competitors’ pages and see how you stack up.


3. Prioritize the Weak Spots

At this point, you’ve got data and insights from the real world on the effectiveness of your careers page and an idea of what it is missing. Based on your hiring goals, you can now make a plan to strengthen your page, and with it, your employer brand.

A few pointers: Most company pages stick with wordy, generic self-praise, which really doesn’t tell a unique story. Instead, show what you want candidates to know about your culture by describing a typical day, sharing a few favorite team traditions, and asking employees to share their most beloved tasks and projects. A list of perks is nice to have, but an engineer talking about how she loves writing a behind-the-scenes technical blog post every quarter gives other candidates a clear idea of what it’s like being part of the team. Test-prep company Magoosh takes things a step further, with an interactive quiz about whether or not you should work there based on its approach to work and key values.

If you have photos on your page (and, um, you really should), make sure they showcase what’s really special about your space. Anyone can pull stock photos of smiling teams from the web, but that won’t convey much about what makes your company different from others. Great photos (or, better yet, videos) that tell a story, and lots of them, will guarantee a better candidate experience. For inspiration, check out how Refinery29 oozes its unmistakable brand while showing off its work environment and how Facebook focuses on its truly extraordinary office in its profile on The Muse.


4. Set the Calendar

Once you have an idea of the changes you’d like to make, outline a project plan.

It’s always helpful when trying to squeeze your priorities into other teams’ workloads to spread your needs over a longer time frame. For example, maybe this quarter you’ll update all the copy on the site, and next you’ll plan an office photo shoot to update the imagery.

Then, based on the web traffic data you collected, set quarterly goals. They might be as straightforward as a greater number of applicants, or more subtle, like increasing the average time someone spends on your career page because the content is more engaging. All of this shows your stakeholders that you’ve thought through the strategy and benchmarks, you’re not just making a change willy-nilly.

From there, it’s a matter of measuring and testing how the changes you make impact your candidate pipeline (hello, automatic weekly Google Analytics reports). Stay disciplined with communicating results to the teams that are helping you and making tweaks to the plan.

You’ll be on your way to brand nirvana. Better yet, when it comes time to review your impact on the organization, you’ll have a data-backed case for how you’ve strengthened a key part of your employer branding.