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Meta Tags for Top Talent

Meta tags have burst onto the public consciousness with the rise of search engine optimization. If you want top talent to find your corporate career site or even your job postings, a strong set of meta tags is all but essential. They provide a definition of sorts for what's on your Internet pages so search engines can find them when "A" level talent is searching the Web.

According to a survey done by ChangeWave, 78 percent of all Internet sessions begin on a search engine. These ubiquitous devices are the compasses of the Internet. They tell us where to go to find the information we want. How do they decide where to send us? By reading the meta tags that reside invisibly at the top of the content pages posted online.

Although there are other factors in the search engine's calculus, it is those keywords and phrases which determine how high in the search results each page will appear. The better the match between a person's search query - the kind of information they ask the engine to find - and the meta tags, the closer to the top of the list a specific page will appear. And, the closer to the top of the search results a page appears, the higher the probability the person will see it.

So, if you want the top talent for which you're recruiting to find your corporate career site or your job postings, it's critical that you design your meta tags for the kinds of searches those individuals would typically be doing on the Web. And, there's the rub. Most recruitment meta tags today aren't designed for the best talent; they're designed for active job seekers.

Now, let's be clear: there are top performers among active job seekers. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, at any point in time - even during a recession - just 16 percent of the U.S. workforce is in transition. In other words, 84 percent of the population is composed of what we call "passive job seekers."

These passive job seekers are the prime prospects for our openings because they typically include a higher percentage of people with hard-to-find skills and a track record of superior performance. They are, however, employed and almost always, NOT in transition. The key to recruiting them, therefore, is to use meta tags that connect with them while they aren't looking for a job.

Tagging Passive Prospects

Meta tags on the pages of corporate career sites and job postings have normally emphasized the attributes of the organization or its openings. They include terms such as "Fortune 500 consumer products company," "pharmaceutical research," "sales job" or "senior clinical scientist position." They describe an organization's value proposition as an employer or the title and responsibilities of its employment opportunities. A passive job seeker may be interested in such topics, but they'll never see those pages because that's not what they're searching for online.

More often than not, passive job seekers use search engines not to look for a job, but to look for ways to perform better on the job they already have. They search for solutions to specific work problems or for techniques and strategies that could improve their overall performance. They might, for example, look for Web pages that discuss "improving retention rates with major accounts" or "how to locate more candidates for clinical trials." And, it's those job performance terms - NOT job search terms - that we should be using as meta tags.

How can we determine which job performance terms to include? Ask the people who are using them day-in, day-out on the Web. Reach out to the top performers among your own coworkers in the career field for which you're recruiting.

You can, for example, ask them to share their search queries for the last 60 days. Or, if they're uncomfortable with that, you can pull them into a focus group and get them talking about what they've been looking for online. In both instances, the key to success will be your ability to reassure them that you're not prying into their online behavior, but instead, looking for ways to recruit other top performers just like them. In most cases, they'll appreciate the implied pat on the back and the chance to help themselves by attracting more top performers to the organization.

Meta tags may sound like a technical term, but in truth, they're nothing more than keywords and phrases. Up to this point, however, recruiters have used keywords for only one purpose: to detail the contents of their Web pages. In the War for the Best Talent, however, it's equally important to use meta tags for a second purpose: to attract the best talent to pages they wouldn't otherwise find, but might just want to see.

Thanks for reading,
Peter

Visit my blog at Weddles.com/WorkStrong.

September 2012
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