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The recruitment sector, like many in the UK today, is facing challenges. That said, it is a lucrative industry, with countless agencies and freelancers climbing over each other to be seen. In economic times like these, making money is getting more difficult – but more people are looking for work. A recruitment agency with a strong online presence is vastly better placed than one without. A fancy TV ad with a prime time spot can only do so much and will almost always refer the viewer to a website. That’s where you can get the audiences attention for a far longer period, and more focus is being given to online recruitment. With a user generated search query, a recruitment site can pull in exactly the kind of people it wants.

When a user lands on a website, be it for jobs or otherwise, the first thing they’re going to establish is whether or not the content on that page is what they were looking for. It doesn’t matter if the website has amazing looking animations, loads quickly or has ingenious parallax scrolling capabilities – if the content isn’t there, the user is gone. Great design isn’t just about looks, especially with a website. Function will almost always outweigh form as a factor of importance. Navigation, layout and relevance to the area you’re targeting should be paramount. In any business, it’s customers that make it what it is, so make users and their experience your priority once they get to the site – that’s how you get people coming back.

With a specific field like recruitment and jobs, users are going to want and expect a few things from the off. Apart from being greeted by a nice looking and clear front page, they’re going to want to be able to find jobs and candidates easily. Having an integrated search feature with customisable filters is always appreciated. Clearly labelled areas to browse through jobs and candidates will make their visit much more pleasant than endlessly scrolling through a disorganised (or even a loosely organised) list of jobs and places. Being able to sign up for an account, upload a CV and get alerts for new roles is a feature users will love – and it means that you’ll have a database of potential candidates always waiting in the wings for future roles.

So that’s the end user happy – but really, the front end is a very small part of the story. Behind the curtain, a powerful, flexible content management system (CMS) needs to be in place to make the whole thing work properly – and to keep the other user (that’s you) happy too. The content management system needs to be just as easy to use and equally well set out – otherwise, that brilliant front end design is going to be for nothing. A site’s administrator needs to be able to control everything on the site without going back and forth with the site’s developer. The CMS should allow you to create, upload and edit vacancies whenever and from wherever, with the ability to categorise jobs and highlight special ones. As with any other good CMS, being able to make new pages and categories complete with images and other content is a must. Does the CMS support a news and/or blog area? Don’t overlook the importance of giving users a little piece of you – a blog can drive your authority, search engine ranking and gives users an insight into what you and your organisation are all about. Shout about success, comment on the industry and get involved. Nothing inspires confidence like an up to date website that has fresh thinking applied to it regularly.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave on Mars (with your eyes shut and your fingers in your ears), you’ll be aware of the ‘mobile revolution’. Its not so much a revolution as it is a slowly emerging inevitability really, but being prepared (and doing it well) is going to pay off. In 2012, mobile internet growth surpassed desktop and it shows no sign of slowing down. Smartphones are prolific now. They’re cheaper and more powerful than ever before, with high end technologies trickling down to lower priced handsets and the top end rivalling laptop and games console capabilities. Having a mobile recruitment platform available is going to make a serious difference to your audience’s experience. People look for jobs in their spare time, something that most of us don’t have a lot of. Sneaking in a job hunt on the commute home or at lunch time is only going to be possible on a mobile device and a mobile optimised site is going to beat the competition hands down for usability. Endlessly pinching a screen to zoom in and out gets tiring fast. Entering text into close-knit fields is fiddly and annoying. Pressing the wrong button and having to start all over again is enough to drive a person crazy. Don’t let your site be the culprit.

So if you’ve taken everything into consideration, you should have a website that people love using. But how will they find it? Chances are, if they haven’t heard of your brand or seen your site’s domain, they’ll be searching blind – with a search engine. SEO, or search engine optimisation, is a vital service your website will require once it’s been established. If your site ranks highly in search engine results, more people will see it and use it. SEO uses a variety of techniques both on and off site to achieve better visibility. All on site optimisation will come down to the CMS and how flexible and adaptive it is, all off page optimisation will come down to how good a job you can do getting quality links and securing the brand across multiple online platforms. Of course, there’s more to it than that, but good SEO combined with excellent design and functionality will make your website a triple threat and very hard to beat. It might seem like a lot needs to be done, but it all boils down to usability and visibility. Get these two things right in any online venture and you’re on the right path.