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Building a Candidate-Focused Website

According to a 2015 study from CareerBuilder, 54 percent of employers say that over the past five years, it’s grown increasingly difficult to find qualified candidates. We hear this same story from clients across industries, from A/E/C to tech and private schools. In our website discovery meetings, some clients even say that hiring talented workers is just as high of a priority as bringing in new business.

Whether they get there directly, from a friend’s social media post, or through an online job posting, your website is often a candidate’s first point of contact with your brand. We see this echoed in our clients’ analytics, which frequently show that career and people pages get just as many (if not more) page visits than portfolio or work-related pages.

Your career and culture pages are an essential part of your overall digital strategy, and they deserve just as much attention as the other key pages on your site. Use these steps to create content that supports recruiting efforts and motivates potential employees to apply.

Step 1: Define Your Employer Brand

Research is the first step of any general branding project, and employer branding is no different. Sit down with employees from recruiting, HR, and a mixed bag of other departments to figure out what sets you apart as an employer. Surveys, one-on-one interviews, and focus groups each have their merits for this process.

Sift through your findings to identify any common themes, then distill these into a succinct, memorable list of employer brand promises. Those might sound something along the lines of:

  • Learn every day. We give employees the tools they need to grow their careers, from Lynda tutorials and tuition reimbursement to industry conferences.
  • Join our family. At Company ABC, we care about our employees, and it shows. CEO Jim Smith knows everybody’s name, and we often get together for happy hours and other company outings.
  • We value diversity. We believe in diversity, inclusion, and mirroring the community that we are a part of.

Step 2: Establish Your Tone

You’ll also want to take a minute to define the tone for your career page. While your brand voice should be consistent across the board, your tone can change slightly depending on the context. For many brands, career pages and related materials can take a slightly different tone than, say, your products and services page.

When establishing your career page tone, think about the state of mind your ideal candidate might be in, for example:

  • Happy at work, but looking for the next thing
  • Frustrated with a current position
  • Ready for a challenge
  • Confused about what your company actually does


A “this but not that” list can guide writers toward the right tone for your page. For example, you might want your career page to sound:

  • Lighthearted but not goofy
  • Inviting but not pushy
  • Mission-oriented but not cheesy

For more on voice, tone, and style, take a look at MailChimp’s Content Style Guide.

Step 3: Show Your People

Ask an employee what they love about their job, and there’s a good chance they’ll answer, “the people.” Staff bios give candidates an impression of the team they could be working with, and for that reason, your people page can be just as important to recruiting as your career page. 

Depending on your workplace culture, these bios can range range in formality. For example, the people page we created for Hill Investment Group, a financial services client, uses professional head shots and to-the-point bios to create a formal, buttoned-up aesthetic. Meanwhile, our people page for KSS Architects shows a more creative, laid-back work style using informal, Instagram-style head shots.

Step 4: Try Video

Video is a great recruiting tool because it lets your employees speak on your behalf. You can write all day about the perks of working for your company, but when you let actual employees do the talking, these benefits (and the stories behind them) really come to life.

With your employer brand promises (see Step 1) in mind, brainstorm a list of questions about the employee experience. Questions might include:

  • What’s a typical day like for you?
  • What makes you proud to work here?
  • Are training and education important here?
  • How has your career evolved since you started here?

Select your interviewees ahead of time and give them a few days to think about their answers. For inspiration, here are a few of our favorite recruiting videos:

Step 5: Don’t Forget a Call to Action

Last but not least, let candidates know how they can proceed. Should they email their resume to HR? Sign up for updates on available positions? Can college students schedule an office tour? Whether you have positions immediately available or not, give interested candidates a concrete next step.

Hiring the right employees may be a growing challenge, but digital storytelling can help catch the attention of the right candidates.

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Written by Katherine Leonard