American Home Design relies solely on the jobs page on its Web site to attract  potential employees.
American Home Design relies solely on the jobs page on its Web site to attract potential employees.

The want ad in the local paper is the classic way to look for employees, but don't overlook the potential of another tool: your Web site. “Many companies are missing this key dynamic,” says consultant Michael Zmugg of ZweigWhite in San Francisco. “A Web site is not just for marketing to potential clients. It's for selling your company to candidates as a good place to work.” And, Zmugg points out, you don't have to pay to use it.

HOW TO DO IT To send that message effectively, he suggests, your jobs page should be easily accessed from either the home page or the “About our Company” page. Making people click on more than a couple of links is cumbersome.

American Home Design, in Nashville, Tenn., doesn't even run want ads in the newspaper anymore, says marketing director Mikele Goodchild. Instead, the contractor has long had a jobs page on its Web site, “American Home Design is a great place to work!” is the headline, and job openings and the benefits package are listed, as is e-mail, phone, fax, and snail-mail contact information. The idea is that “someone [looking for a job] who looks at the Web site feels good about the company,” Goodchild says. “Typically, people who really care about where they work check us out before they apply.”

That kind of research goes on at other contractors' Web sites, too. More than three-quarters of people who apply for jobs at Renaissance Exteriors in Maple Grove, Minn., have explored the company's Web site,, says sales manager Brent Jarvis. Although the site includes a jobs section, “we don't typically get a lot of action,” Jarvis says. “But if our Web site was not as well put together as it is, we probably wouldn't be netting the same type of response.” Renaissance Exteriors also posts jobs in the local paper.

GENERATION THING Younger workers especially may be cruising Web sites when looking for jobs. A Web presence drives younger people to your business, argues Jared Murray, CEO of Weatherguard Systems, in New London, Wis., which has an online employment application on its jobs page, “That's marketing,” he says. “Because we look progressive online, four new employees said they were inclined to come on with us.”

However, there is a downside, Murray adds, and it tends to be age-related. Based on his experience looking for a seasoned carpenter, he speculates that “if you want older, more experienced applicants, you may have to resort to word of mouth or traditional advertising.”

In the two years that NewPro's Web site has been a recruiting tool, the Woburn, Mass.-based contractor has received about 35 résumés and hired just one installer. But human resources director Al Sablone isn't disappointed. “Our main concern with the Web site is to let people see who we are,” Sablone says. He takes note, when talking with job candidates, whether they have visited the Web site and taken the virtual factory tour. “Those candidates are looking to go the extra mile for a job.”

If you're fortunate enough to have no current job openings, Zmugg says, you still should have at least an e-mail link where potential employees can send résumés. “Keep that channel open. Someone could leave unexpectedly.”