Three Quick Tips to Better Guide Candidates Through to Applying

By on April 17, 2018

As part of our career site audit for new clients, the interactive team at CKR regularly looks through existing career websites and scores them against what we call our “10 Axioms of a Successful Career Website.” One common recurring topic is the effective use of calls-to-action (CTAs) or buttons that drive candidates to apply for a job. While there are a lot of resources available to look up best practices for designing CTAs, this post focuses on a small portion related to getting candidates to apply. Here’s a quick audit you can do yourself, with three tips to better guide candidates to the right job description (and application).


The language you use in CTAs and buttons serves to inform the candidate what happens when they click. It may seem obvious, but it’s easy to mix up when to use “apply” or “see jobs.” While auditing sites, I’ve seen apply now CTAs on pages that are two or three clicks away from the actual link that allows them to apply. Then, when you get to the job description, you see some form of apply button again, only this time it’s for real. The original apply button should have said “see jobs” or “search jobs”, since clicking the button took the user to a listing of jobs. Use “apply” only when the CTA will take the user to an application. The same can be said of “search jobs” buttons; clicking on this CTA should take the user to a job search page.


Just as important as language, context is making sure your button makes sense in its placement and location, particularly around other bits of content. Make sure your buttons stand out. Don’t just leave an apply button at the top of your job description page! By the time the candidate finishes reading the job description and gets to the bottom of the page, they’ll have to scroll all the way back up to apply. Having a fixed button at the top or side of the page, or a second apply button at the bottom, allows them to apply after reading the full description.


The same can be said with buttons related to content. For example, having a page on your career site that talks about a specific company location is great, but having a see jobs button that takes you to the full search or job listing isn’t as great. Since the page they’re coming from is based on a specific location, change the see jobs button to take them to a job search or results page that’s pre-filtered to show jobs at that specific location. That way, when they read about how awesome your San Francisco campus is, they can more easily find opportunities there when they click “see jobs.”


Lastly, the hierarchy is important when determining how and where to place your CTAs. Make sure that the button stands out and is important when it needs to be, whether it is by itself or grouped with other pieces of content. A search jobs button that sits over an image might be hard to see if the color and contrast are too similar to the photo behind it, which could cause your candidates to miss it on first glance. Placement in terms of ease of use is also important, too. Make sure you have a prominent CTA on the home page to search or see jobs since that’s the most important reason candidates visit your career site.

Oftentimes, a web page has multiple CTAs or buttons for the user to explore. Creating a consistent visual style with strong hierarchy is important so that the candidate knows which button you want them to click on first (apply now or submit) versus a secondary action that might be different (share this job or cancel). The last thing you want is to confuse your candidate with several buttons grouped together with the same visual weight that all take them somewhere different. If you’re trying to drive candidates to search or apply, make sure it’s the most obvious CTA that the candidate can see, so they understand that’s the desired action for them to click through to.


Ultimately, there’s a lot you can do to ensure your calls-to-action buttons and links are clear enough for candidates to follow. The last thing you want to do is drive away qualified candidates with a confusing search and apply process through your career site. Not sure about how strong your CTAs are, and want to hear what we think? Contact us today and see what we can do to get your career site clear and accessible for candidates.

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