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Financial Times: Streamlined websites net top graduates

By Jon Boone, Education Correspondent
Published: January 30 2006
Top companies are pouring resources into their recruitment websites as the battleground for scooping up top graduates has moved from university career fairs to the internet.
According to the second annual study of 102 corporate career websites, published today, leading companies were busy in 2005 relaunching their online recruitment efforts in order attract top talent.
Ernst & Young, the professional services firm, was rewarded for its relaunch by rising 22 positions to sixth favourite website among the 4,339 students from across Europe surveyed by Potentialpark Communications, a Swedish recruitment consultancy.
Stevan Rolls, head of recruitment at Ernst & Young, said the firm's global site had needed an overhaul as the recruitment market has got “a bit tighter”.
“We realised the old site had an awful lot of information on it and we decided to design something that better reflected what students tell us they want. That meant simplifying things and cutting out a lot of excess information.”
Potentialpark said companies were learning to make sparing use of such fashionable web tools as blogging and podcasts because simplicity and ease of use are more important to many jobseekers.
Goldman Sachs also rose 43 positions to 13th place after the investment bank overhauled its website.
Torgil Lenning, a consultant at Potentialpark, said: “It is great to see that so many companies are relaunching their career websites. If all companies did work this way, the employment market would be much smoother.”
HSBC, another company that enjoyed a 49-place rise to 14th position, said it had involved students in the design of their new website.
John Morewood, from the bank's graduate recruitment department, said the streamlined website, which is designed to be used by potential applicants worldwide, had already led to an increase in the number and quality of applicants.
“We have been able to fill up particular programmes much faster than in previous years because we have seen an improvement in the quality of candidates applying this year.”
Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters, said the large amounts of resources that companies are prepared to dedicate to their career websites was an indication that the battle for top graduates has become fiercer.
“When recruiters first started using the web they were taken with the novelty of it and the content was not so good. Now that the net has become such a vital tool they are all working hard to attract as many people as possible by improving the user-friendliness of their sites.”
The website that European students chose as their favourite was Shell, which has moved up from number 11 last year. The oil giant was followed by ABB in second place and then Siemens and Procter & Gamble.
Navjot Singh, head of recruitment at Shell, said the secret of a good career website was to keep things simple and not burden the user with onerous requests for information about themselves.
“Too many of these online application forms ask for huge amounts of data – you don't, for example, need someone's date of birth just so they can receive an e-letter about jobs going at Shell. Candidates will want to know how that information is going to be used.”

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