Picture this: you're the head of talent acquisition at your company, and you've decided that your company's careers website needs an overhaul. It was built four years ago, looks dated, and the technology underneath is end of life. Your HR Director wants to know how much budget to request for the new website - assuming it will be a one-time spend. But you know that the last time you launched the site (four years ago) it was also treated this way, the site quickly became out of date, and you'd like to take a better approach this time. What do you do? 

The reality is that most careers websites are classified as capital expenditures, budget to be spent once and then amortised over its lifetime (like a laptop). But without continual investment, a website becomes obsolete, much like a new car, which becomes a used car (and depreciates in value) the minute it's driven off the lot. 

But, if you're leasing your car - or better, if you're Uber-ing - you're likely to always be riding around in a shiny new car. Similarly, instead of approaching your website project as a bespoke build, consider a software as a service (SaaS) solution. 

Benefits of SaaS for your careers website

Time and effort

A bespoke website requires a lot of one-time (or once-every-few-years) investment, takes a long time to build, and then - if you're going to keep the content and technology current - requires a hefty level of effort for maintenance on top. A site built on a SaaS platform will launch faster (since the framework already exists) and will remain current because the SaaS provider is continually investing in that platform and rolling out new features and functionalities, so you don't need to dedicate resources to that specific site only. 

Security

A SaaS platform can invest in security, data protection, and staying on top of the latest vulnerabilities in ways that purveyors of bespoke builds cannot, because the individual sites are too different. Additionally, if many high profile companies are using the same SaaS platform, you can have comfort that the platform will be subject to frequent scans and penetration tests by a number of different third parties. And when new legislation like GDPR comes around, a SaaS provider will be more nimble in ensuring that their platform complies, because they can do that at the platform level. 

Scalability and evolution

A careers site built on SaaS is built to scale - meaning that you can begin with jobs from one ATS or location and then add new feeds as those become available, or that you can launch with the branded job search functionality first and then add content in later. If you are building a bespoke site, you are most likely starting with bespoke content and design, which can get held up indefinitely in approvals, and a phased approach has much less benefit to the candidate, your end user. (Remember that up to half of careers site visitors only view the job description before applying - so which would you rather have live first, a company timeline or a rich and branded job details page?

Big data

A SaaS platform is constantly gathering anonymised data across all of its sites. This means that new features, and even recommendations for what you should do on your site, are based on the accumulated insight from all of this data. A bespoke site may be tracked using Google Analytics, but it will have nowhere near the number of users or data points that you would have with a SaaS provider. 

The caveat

The potential shadow side to a SaaS solution is that not all are created equally, and some are much more flexible than others. When selecting a SaaS provider, look for flexibility both from a creative/brand and from a feature configuration standpoint. The benefits of SaaS can be lost if the solution is too rigid - just because the underpinnings of the site are from a software product, it doesn't mean that your careers site should look cookie-cutter (or worse, that the technology should become more visible than your brand). 

In summary

There will be times when a bespoke build is appropriate, for example if you are running a campaign that requires a microsite with specific functionality. But when it comes to your company's careers website, SaaS provides advantages in time, effort, scalability and technical infrastructure that could only be matched with a bespoke build if you invested significantly more money. Look for a SaaS solution that gives maximum flexibility in design/brand expression, so that you can reap the advantages of a product platform without being bound to the vendor's template. We always say that 'in technology, anything is possible with time and budget' - you'll get much more bang for your buck with the right SaaS partner.  

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.