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Designing a Career Portal That Attracts Passionate Candidates

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By Tom Brennan, Master Writer

I’ve been writing about career portal best practices, and if you learn only one thing from the series, I hope it is this: design your portal from the viewpoint of candidates. Understand what is foremost in candidates’ minds as they process a job change, and speak to it.

You may need to sit down for this one: what’s foremost on candidates’ minds is NOT how your company innovates new solutions or exceeds customer expectations. Your company is great at those things because of strong leadership and passionate employees. And your company has passionate employees because it gives them the kinds of things that are foremost on candidates’ minds.

Some of these things will be specific to your vertical and the types of candidates you need, but some fundamental things are important across the board. In Part 1 I explained why this approach is so important, and in Part 2 I discussed three of the key candidate concerns your portal must address. Here are two more.

  1. How will this company help me build a career that is meaningful and fulfilling?

Lots of articles claim this is especially true for Millennials, but I think it applies across generations. People want to do work that matters, that helps promote and manifest their values. Ask your best employees what they find meaningful about working for your company. It may be altruistic and it may be self-serving — for most of us it’s a bit of both. What’s important is that you share it. Some examples:

  • Being part of a remarkable success story, such as a product that is changing the industry or a unique and thriving business model.
  • Having what it takes to make it in a challenging environment. The classic example: “The few, the proud, the Marines.”
  • Making a difference in the world, from medical devices that improve quality of life to software products that help businesses be more efficient to services that promote environmental responsibility.

Your website probably has information about your company’s corporate citizenship initiatives, but be sure to highlight how your employees get involved. Great career portals feature pictures of employees participating in philanthropic events, perhaps wearing tee shirts that say something like, “Team Acme supports the American Cancer Society.”

  1. How can I be confident that this company is worth the risk involved in changing jobs?

Starting a new job is a significant change, and change is challenging because most of us have a fear of loss. Economists recognize that the fear of loss can overpower the prospect of acquiring gain. Kahneman and Tversky call it “loss aversion,” and describe how it leads to risk aversion. Gill and Prowse argue that loss aversion can be particularly acute in competitive situations, and applying for a job certainly qualifies. The things people most fear losing are love, health, social status and financial security.

Therefore your portal should emphasize the tangibles and intangibles you offer to offset those fears. Some suggestions:

  • Love comes in flavors other than “romantic” and “family.” Talk about the cultural glue that binds you team together.
  • Health insurance is a given, so talk about the gym memberships you sponsor, softball teams or Weight Watchers support groups.
  • Social status in our culture is tied strongly to career, so sharing about professional development and promotions should help there.
  • Your site surely covers financial security by talking about comp and benefits, but if you have anything that stands out, be sure to highlight it.

When you think about filling openings, it’s natural to focus on what you need. But to get what you need, you — and your career portal — should focus instead on what you’re offering.

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