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Don't let your Web site hurt your recruiting efforts

The marketing department's clever copy won't lure young IT job seekers to your company. The technology behind your Web site is more important for recruiting, according to one study.


Wendy Kotila is a recent college graduate and a new employee of AltaVista.com. She is also one of the growing number of Generation Y'ers who used the Internet in her job search.

“I always looked at the company’s home page—the principles, press releases, products, and tone [of the site],” Kotila said. She also relied on other job-related sites for “the information a friend would tell you—the good, bad, and ugly.”

If you want to recruit young IT talent, analyze your own company’s Web site to determine whether it’s helping or hurting your recruiting efforts.

A recent study by WetFeet.com, a San Francisco Internet recruiting services firm, found that when companies want to recruit recent graduates, an effective Web site is a key element. The WetFeet.com survey determined:
  • 94 percent of all students surveyed reported they used corporate Web sites during their job searches.
  • 43 percent became interested in working for a company because of the company’s Web site.
  • One out of four job seekers rejected potential employers based on their Web sites.

And the survey says…
WetFeet.com recently published its survey results in Web Recruiting Study 2000. The results were based on a survey of 750 undergraduates and business school students from 25 major universities across the United States.

“It is a very competitive marketplace, especially in IT, and the Internet is being used actively by those kinds of candidates,” said Steve Pollock, president and cofounder of WetFeet.com. “Managers need to be active with both their own Web sites and other places on the Web as a way to draw those candidates.”

One finding of the survey might surprise you: The technology behind your Web site might have more of an impact on job candidates than you realize. Messages from the human resources department were not as important to young job seekers as the quality of the Web site. The research found that four characteristics had a negative impact on job seekers:
  1. Poor navigation
  2. Not enough information about the specific positions
  3. Bad design
  4. Inability to find the recruitment section of the Web site

“The number one was poor navigation, “ said Pollock. “We gave [those surveyed] more than a dozen reasons to choose from, and more than 50 percent identified poor navigation as one of the top three things that bothered them.”

Consistency in the content is also important. College students and recent graduates “definitely dislike things that don’t appear to be credible,” said Pollock. “If the company image on the Web site is different than the information from other sources, job seekers tend to disbelieve the Web site. They want some consistency in the information.”
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Help young IT grads apply for a job
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) uses its Web site to recruit recent graduates, both from the undergraduate and graduate levels.

“Our Web site is about education and information,” explained Jeff Bell, a project leader at BCG. Bell also has some recruiting responsibilities.

When the BCG staff looked at the recruiting part of its Web site, Bell says they tried to walk through some of the questions that students and potential employees might have, such as:
  • Is consulting something that interests me?
  • Would I fit with BCG?
  • How do I apply for a job with this company?
  • What can you tell me about the interview process?
  • What should I do to prepare for the interview?

“It’s all about how can we help them be the best they can be in the interview process,” said Bell.

BCG is also aware of the importance of a consistent message, so the company makes an effort to project a uniform image.

”We’ve really tried to position our Web site as consistent with the branding and marketing position we’ve taken as BCG as a whole,” explained Bell. “We consider people to be our greatest asset. So if you look at our Web site, one of the things that probably strikes you is that compared to other consulting Web sites, there are a lot of pictures of people, especially in the recruiting area.”

Searching for an effective recruiting strategy online is something that more companies will likely pursue. Remember that the IT worker shortage isn’t expected to lessen anytime soon. A recent survey by the Information Technology Association of America predicts that nearly 850,000 IT positions will go unfilled.

“The Internet has had a dramatic impact on the way people go about finding jobs and also the relationship between the job seekers and the companies,” said Pollock. “Specifically, the power of the job seeker compared to the company will continue to grow.”
Can you take your pet to work? Do you visit college campuses? What’s your best strategy to hire young IT workers? Post a comment below or send us a letter.

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