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Thinking like a job seeker

If you’ve read me for any length of time, you know that I believe job seekers are the driving force for our industry. They are why employers are willing to talk to us and willing to pay us. Their success in finding work is our success.

So how do you ensure that job seekers are successful? You start by thinking like a job seeker.

This is actually a bit harder that you might imagine. I’ve worked with job seekers of all ages, educations, backgrounds, and locations – and I’ve found that they struggle when looking for work. Why is that?

Because – unless they’ve been incredibly fortunate – no one taught them how to look for work. And even if they’ve been exposed to a few useful books, trainings, or websites, they quickly discover that the ‘hiring game’ is complicated, unpredictable, and not designed to help them succeed. Throw in a few more barriers such as being a minority candidate or having to look during a pandemic or recession, and it’s actually amazing that most of them still manage to find jobs.

And…many job boards are part of the problem.

The way to fight that is to think like a job seeker. What does that mean?

  1. Do I know what I’m looking for? Many job seekers don’t. They have – at best – a shaky understanding of the relationship between a specific job title and the duties and skills it entails. Help them by providing targeted and digestible content that links the common job titles in your niche with information about what a person in that job actually does.
  2. Do I know where to find what I’m looking for? Most job seekers will start with Google, typing in a job category or title plus a location. That means that your site must be optimized for the Google Jobs schema, that it must have landing pages and proper SEO for the most common job searches (Google’s search data can help here), and that your presence online must extend beyond your site’s SEO – articles, surveys, PR, and so on.
  3. Can I figure out how your site/app/whatever works? In my opinion, the first rule of site design is “Don’t be weird”. Yes, it would be cool to have animated hippos following the cursor’s track, and lime green is an arresting color – but the poor job seeker doesn’t care. She just wants to get in, find a company or job, and be on her way. She wants results. Don’t let your UX ego get in the way.
  4. Can you remind me? Looking for work is – as you can tell – confusing, overwhelming, emotional, and tiring. So help your job seekers out by taking care of them via ‘automatic’ reminders like the lowly job alert. Don’t expect them to remember your site. Don’t expect them to bookmark it or follow it or like it. Just make it easy for them to reengage.

There’s a lot more to thinking like a job seeker – but hopefully this will get you started. Remember – if your job seekers succeed, you succeed.

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