Candidate Experience

A poorly designed Career Site can frustrate and adversely affect a candidate's experience.

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(This is the second post in a series on the Candidate Experience and Career Site Design by Mary Grace Hennessy.  You can view the first post here.)

When most organizations begin building their Career Site, they concentrate on their recruitment marketing messaging, ensuring that it shares their consistent web brand and making sure it hooks into their ATS.  They are often given constraints by the web development team regarding the web design team at corporate for how the site will “fit” into the overall corporate website.  This often leads to little consideration for how this team will approach that aspect of the project or it’s implications.

The technical design of the Career Site is important as it can seriously affect the usability of your career site and more importantly lead to increased drop-off due to candidate confusion and frustration.  For those who are concerned about web accessibility compliance for visually impaired users, the technical design is also very important to consider if wanting to ensure the site will work for this audience

One of the worst offenders, in terms of technical design, that I’ve seen is the use of an iFrame in Career Sites, which I’ll discuss in more detail.

The Dreaded iFrame

When the job search, job display or most importantly, the online application process lives within an iFrame on your career site there is a HUGE usability barrier for candidates in how they find and apply for jobs with the company.  I’ve illustrated the issue in the screenshot below.

Career Site Optimization

There are a few major problems with this image:

1. Most users do not know about the existence of or need to find/use a secondary scroll bar on a page.  Users generally only explore the page using a primary scroll bar and therefore miss jobs that are available without ever being aware of it.

2. As the user scrolls down the page, they loose sight of the second scroll bar’s icon that is then essential to navigating the true page holding the list of jobs, the job description, or the online application fields.

3. Due to the problems above, candidates will become confused and drop off.  I have watched and read countless studies of users where the majority of participants simply bail because they are completely lost at how to proceed.

4. In the online apply flow, a mistake typically leads to confusing error messages telling the user they have not completed requires fields on the page which they cannot see or find, leading them to believe the site is broken.

In addition to all of the visual issues I’ve outlined, for those who are visually impaired, the iFrame breaks the ability for the tools use that support website navigation, so no matter how well designed the content inside the frame might be, it is no longer accessible according to the stated web accessibility guidelines (508/WCAG etc…).

All these issues lead to a bad experience for candidates that want to become applicants in your ATS.  Do not underestimate the damage that this design approach has on employment brand as well as general applicant flow. 

Finding a Solution

Companies who still have this issue should be able to resolve this by working with the web development team who oversees the deployment of your Career Site in alignment with your corporate website. The career site design tools have progressed over the past decade making this implementation approach one of many options for how the design can be deployed.  It’s likely that your corporate website team will need to learn and be engaged at some level in regards to the tools provided by your career site technology provider and how to make them as seamless as possible.  Also of note, if you are using two technologies, one for the job search/display and another for the online job application process, this issue needs to be fixed in BOTH technology implementations.

If you know of someone who oversees a career site that still uses the iFrame, please pass this information along to them. Hopefully there is a quick fix that can be done to rectify the situation with a little research.  If it is believed that the approach is a technology limitation of the career site tool provider, it’s time to do some homework.  Possibly a fix came and is buried in release notes somewhere, otherwise it’s likely the tool has not been updated in years, making it great time to consider alternative technology solutions.

The key is to make sure the technology you have in place that your web team can support or can be removed from involvement so that you can ensure that the experience you deliver is intuitive and easy to use for candidates.


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