March 24, 2009
By Doug Berg

As seen in http://www.recruitingtrends.com

Why should organizations pay attention to their recruiting strategy now when many are faced with hiring freezes, reduced HR budgets and other challenges as a result of the turbulent economy? Because what they do today will determine their success in the future.

When the economy starts to rebound, organizations will begin to hire again and those that have planned for their future talent needs will gain a significant competitive advantage. By having a recruiting strategy that focuses on building talent communities – organized groups of people with the right skills and attributes that can be placed in the right position quickly– they will have access to higher quality candidates when and where they need them. However, with an eye on the future, one thing everyone should be asking themselves is how can we do this better?

One way organizations can get better at finding talent is by using technology to build their own talent communities. That requires understanding how the majority of candidates look for jobs, ensuring job seekers can find available positions in a way they’re likely to search, developing ongoing relationships with passive and active candidates and consistently delivering compelling content that gives them a reason to apply to open jobs.

According to a report from comScore, an organization that measures the digital world, nearly 19 million people went online seeking new employment opportunities last year. However, unless they’re searching by company name, or the corporate career site has been optimized for search engines to find, the chances of candidates finding your career site first is slim. To attract candidates before the job boards and other employers, organizations need to establish a stronger Web presence to catch the attention of quality talent.

An interactive recruiting strategy that includes search engine optimization (SEO) will lead passive and active job seekers directly to your online career site, producing better quality candidates and decreased dependency on online job boards.

Build it, but they won’t come unless they can find it
One reason organizations need to refocus their recruiting efforts is because technology is changing the way people look for jobs. Less than 15 years ago classified advertising was the ruler of the recruiting strategy, but the focus has since shifted online – and that is continuing to evolve. Initially, candidates relied on the online job boards as their main resource for employment opportunities, but today’s job seeker explores a range of options including Craigslist, social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, job aggregators like Indeed.com and search engines like Google and Yahoo.

In fact, the majority of candidates begin their job search on the major search engines, not on the job boards, using a variety of search terms. Therefore, companies need to think about how they can incorporate new technology into their recruiting strategy to attract candidates and build talent communities. Savvy employers will increasingly deploy an SEO recruiting strategy that helps them compete directly with the job boards for candidates so they can acquire them before they join any job board to build their talent communities.

SEO recruiting considers how search engines work, what terms people search for and improves the volume and quality of traffic to the company career center. By taking an optimized approach to recruiting, organizations can enhance their employment brand, make it easier for job seekers to find open positions, and get to the most qualified candidates before the competition. Plus, once a strategy is established it will continue attracting talent over time.

Knowing how candidates search for jobs is a key to attracting them to the corporate career site, but if the site isn’t optimized it can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. That’s because having a great career site isn’t what lands a company’s career center on the first page of the search results on Google. Being on the first page of search results has more advantages because the majority of search engine users don’t look beyond the first page. However, while most career sites are designed to be appealing to users, they’re not optimized for search engine users to find and if they don’t show up on the first page of results users will likely abandon their search.

Many employers have an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that powers the search-and-apply process on their career site, but while those are great at helping job seekers find open positions once they’re on the site, they are not built well for search engine spiders to index job content, which is why they don’t show up on the first page of Google or other search engines. In other words, even though users can use keywords once on the site to search for available positions, the spiders cannot. As a result, the jobs are hidden from search engines. This is because Google indexes individual pages, not sites as a whole. And, just because jobs are indexed on Google, it does not mean they’re optimized for meaningful keyword searches and generating any traffic.

Getting indexed on Google (or any search engine) means that your job content is visible to Google and listed somewhere in the search engine. But, they are not “ranked,” which typically means the jobs are not keyword-optimized for logical searches that will drive meaningful results for recruiting efforts. Even if the search engines could find job content, the ATS systems don’t perform basic SEO tasks such as submitting daily site maps, which is required to help job content show up in the search results on Google or other major search engines.

When career sites are optimized and highly ranked on Google, organizations can begin driving candidates directly to their site to apply into the ATS and compete directly with the job boards. This is why organizations need to have an interactive recruiting strategy that includes SEO to build their own talent communities to create a robust candidate pipeline.

Get found!
In order to make a career site come up in the top suggestions of a search, organizations need to focus on correct key word optimization, submitting their sites and updates to the search engines and link building. Partnering with someone with significant SEO expertise can facilitate this process and make the difference between the career site that is found first and one that is hidden.

Part of a successful strategy requires understanding what people search for – and then making sure they can find it. One way to do this is by creating talent landing pages for every job. A talent landing page provides a substantial competitive advantage because it delivers information relevant to what candidates have searched for and provides a page that can be online for months at a time, which helps organizations rise in and maintain their search rankings, even when they don’t have positions available.

In contrast, the reason why specific jobs rarely get high ranking in the search engines is because jobs go online and offline in a matter of days, which doesn’t give them enough time to rise in the search rankings. Talent landing pages, however, stay online and change daily as jobs go in and out of them. Organizations are then able to capture interested candidates who email or RSS subscribe to their jobs of interest. This enables companies to build a pipeline of talent who will receive auto generated emails with new matching jobs when they are posted into the ATS system. Instead of starting from scratch to market each job by posting into the paid jobs boards, organizations can leverage their own growing talent community database, and as a result, fill more jobs directly and faster than ever before.

By having an interactive recruiting strategy that embraces SEO, candidates are more easily able to find jobs and the organization experiences a better return on investment on their recruiting efforts. A higher Google ranking translates to more candidates looking at a company’s open positions and custom landing pages create the opportunity for passive and active job seekers to maintain contact with the organization and interact with your brand.

SEO is an important element for any company’s talent acquisition strategy. By leading candidates to the career center before they hit the job boards, organizations can build their own talent communities and reduce dependency on high cost job boards and the time to fill open positions. A strategy that uses enhanced automated technology increases both the employers’ ability to find and fill opportunities with the best possible candidate while helping candidates become more aware of the best opportunities to maximize their careers.