If your company has locations in more than one country, or is located in a country with more than one official language, one of the first things to consider when planning a new careers site is language strategy.

Often clients will come to us saying, 

'We're in 35 countries, so we need the site to be in 45 languages', 

But, when they realise how much work and expense is involved, they'll revert to, 

'It only needs to be in English.' 

The reality, however, is that neither approach - presenting all of the content in every possible language, or English only - is necessarily the right one. In order to determine the right solution for your company and your candidates, you'll need to think about: 

1) Who's reading that content 

2) What the content actually says 

3) How the solution as a whole will fit together 

It's important to get the language strategy sorted before you progress too far with the project, because it can have a knock-on effect on many aspects of the solution, including design, copywriting, the technical build, number of stakeholders who need to be involved, timelines and of course the cost of the project as well.

First, think of the users.

You're considering translated content because you have users speaking that language who you want to reach, right?

Some additional things you may want to consider, in order to ensure that you're both respectful of the culture of the market in which you're advertising and that you manage candidate expectations appropriately, could include:

If you're hiring retail bank tellers in Brazil, they'll primarily need to speak Portuguese on the job, whereas a senior marketing manager might need to speak English even if they're based in Switzerland.  

What language will they use to apply for the job? 

If your application process (ATS) is only in English, providing all of the content leading up to that application in another language could result in a disjointed experience. Ideally, the content leading up to the application and the application itself should be in the same language.  

What language are you using to advertise the job? 

In most cases the candidate journey should be in one language, unless the position is explicitly a multilingual one. Even if you're advertising in a country where the candidates largely speak English, advertising in the local language is a matter of respect and can increase the number of people who consider and apply for the position.  

Next, think about the content.

What content is applicable or true regardless or where you are? What is relevant or specific to a location, rather than the company as a whole?

For example, you might find that your company history, values, and descriptions of the business areas are the same the world over - but local content like benefits, office descriptions, or even employee culture can vary significantly from place to place. You might want to have all content in English as a foundation, but when translating into local languages, focus on the global content that is shared and on the local content that is relevant - it might not make sense to have the benefits page for France translated into Simplified Chinese.  

Global vs local considerations: 

If your solution includes a 'global' site and then a number of 'local' sites, what goes on one vs the other?

  • Remember, ‘global’ is not a location – you can’t work in ‘global.’ 
  • Content on the global site should be universally relevant – when you drill down, this probably isn’t very extensive. 
  • Most content might actually sit on the local site because that’s what is most relevant to where people will work (culture, benefits, the actual day to day of the job). 
  • Don't forget to plan out how all of the sites (corporate global, careers global, corporate local, careers local) will fit together.  You might find that it makes more sense to have local content sit on the local corporate site, instead of on a local careers site. Many companies find that local marketing departments include careers content on their local sites, and in those cases duplicating content onto a local careers site could add to maintenance effort without much benefit to the candidate. 
  • If your business has a content/languages strategy for local sites, use that to guide your careers language strategy unless it conflicts with employment law (for example, if your corporate site in Canada is only in English, as in Canada careers content must be in both French and English). 

Locations vs languages: 

  • While planning your content, remember that location does not equal language. If your solution is a constellation of sites, will those sites be divided by location, or by language? 
  • - You can have one language spoken in many countries (for example, French is spoken in France, Canada, and Belgium)
  • - You can have many languages spoken in one country (for example, Switzerland has four languages – French, Italian, German, Romansh)
  • - If having sites by language, then the content needs to make sense for all speakers of that language (so a French language site would not be specific just to France)
  • - If having sites by location, you may need multiple language variants for that location (e.g., Switzerland might have three or four sites; Canada would have two)

Can I put content in many languages all on my global (primarily English) site? 

If you don't have multiple sites in different languages, you may consider adding non-English pages onto a global/English site. Before deciding on that approach, take the following into account:

  • User experience - The candidate experience may suffer if the user is jumping from language to language - and candidates who are not bilingual may be at a disadvantage. 
  • SEO - You want your jobs and content to be search engine optimised in the language in which your candidates are searching. Job seekers outside of English-speaking countries will be searching primarily in their native languages, rather than in English. 
  • Site consistency - If you are putting non-English content on your English site, the URL, page title, meta description, and other site elements will remain in English. This would lead to a disjointed experience. 
  • Appealing to a global audience - If, however, you need to appeal to a global/multilingual audience and you don't have a separate site on which to house content in that language, it might make sense to have mixed languages on your English site. In this case, consider posting the content (article or job) in both languages - have the headline in both English and German, for example, and then in the body of the page show the same content in both languages. 
  • Separating interface language from search results language - One scenario in which mixing languages is advised is in job search. If you have jobs posted in many languages but your global careers site is in English, it would make sense to pull all jobs into that site, with a filter so that the user can view only jobs in a certain language. This mirrors what we see elsewhere on the internet - for example, if you Google a German term from Google.com, you might get results that are both in German and English, but your interface results remain in English. This way we are returning the maximum relevant results to the user, and allowing them to filter the results to just what they want to see. 


Think about your users and what the content will actually contain before planning out your solution. This may include both global and local content on both corporate and careers sites. When in doubt, put the users first!

VP Technology Operations

Karen brings her experience in project management and recruitment technology together to help teams deliver outstanding digital recruitment solutions. She’s worked with AIA Worldwide for eight years, in both New York and London, and never met a spreadsheet or project plan she didn’t like.