Does anyone remember the days of walking into a Human Resource (HR) office and asking to fill out an application? The lovely HR person peeled off the top sheet of a pad of applications, handed you a clipboard, and directed you to where you could sit to complete the form.

You looked around the HR office, sized up the competition, noticed the décor, and imagined what it would be like to work at this particular organization. There were awards, employee photos, and a bulletin board (sometimes a fancy one behind glass!) filled with posters about rights and laws. Yes, this was a classy place, and you could not wait to get your application completed and turned in for review!

Then came the internet, and with the advent of online application systems, HR offices turned from waiting rooms filled with eager applicants to a sign stating “apply online.” That’s not to say there isn’t the regular revolving door of employee relation issues, but by and far, the number of strangers walking into HR offices is virtually none. Nowadays, your career website is your virtual HR office for job-seekers. You can craft the candidate experience to be nothing short of exhilarating! There are colorful buttons to click and virtual doors to go through, “Do you want to work in Sales – click here!” “Are you looking to be creative and innovative – click here!” “Want to know about all of our wonderful benefits – click here!” “Listen to this employee’s testimony here!” “Watch a day in the life of working here!” and don’t forget the most important ones, “Read about your rights here!” “You can view our Affirmative Action Plans by visiting the office Monday-Friday 8 AM-5 PM,” “Read our Affirmative Action Policy here!” and, most importantly, “Need assistance in the application process? Call or email us here!”

Right? You have all of those of your website, don’t you? Perhaps? Maybe one or two….

I think back to when I was that “HR Lady” greeting people when they came in, handing them the clipboard, and showing them where they could sit and fill out an application. One time, a woman walked in using a cane and I realized she was blind. She asked for an application and I handed her the clipboard with the application and walked her to where she could sit to complete the form, just like I did with everyone else. Although I have to admit, I was a bit nervous and uncertain about how she was going to fill it out. She was alone and this was light years before cell phones and all the cool modern technology we now have. She sat down then asked me, “Do you mind helping me complete this application?” I felt a wave of relief and said, “Of course!” I sat down next to her, took the clipboard, read her the questions, and transcribed her answers onto the form. It was such a simple task, and after completing her application, I placed it on the pile with all the others for the day to give to the Employment Manager. Easy Peazy.

Let’s fast forward to today. This same woman is now on your career webpage and looking to complete her application. There is no sweet HR person to help her (and yes, I was sweet! It was my first “real” HR job. I had candy on my desk and was confident I could solve everyone’s problems). Nowadays, your website is flashy and colorful, and there are cool videos and testimonials. Perhaps some of the content is accessible for her to navigate, or maybe it comes across as a complete dysfunctional pile of gibberish (talk about first impressions). If it does come across as gibberish,  the most pertinent piece of information to locate is, “How can I contact that sweet HR person to assist me?”

I said it before and will say it again. Your career website landing page is now your virtual HR office. Perhaps you are above the curve and have a chatbot. Does this chatbot know how to handle accommodation requests from an applicant? How about the Equal Employment Opportunity Laws?

So let’s get right down to it. If you are a Federal Government Contractor (or an employer looking to operate in present-day and reach all demographics), there are items that need to be on your career website. Yes, digital marketing is a thing and you need a strategy, and that strategy should be inclusive and compliant.

How do you make sure you don’t lose top talent (or customers for that matter)? Get your site accessible (contact Recruit Rooster to learn about their accessibility audits), and regardless of where your organization is on that journey, include verbiage (required for Federal Government Contractors) to indicate an avenue to seek help (phone number/email). Keep in mind this is pointless without someone (remember me, that sweet HR Lady?) handling the phone calls and emails to give prompt assistance. Can you imagine if that woman had asked for my help and I said – “I’ll get back to you within 24-48 hours.” Or worse, no response at all? What if I just ignored her and let her sit in the office. You can imagine what she would share with family and friends on that experience! For quick, free help on this topic, check out The JAN Workplace Accommodation Toolkit.

Next up are those beautiful employment law posters. Yes, applicants still need to be able to read their rights, and you want to be known as an employer that plays by the rules. Don’t bury or hide these. They don’t have to be full-page advertisements but spell them out (go ask 10 Non-HR people what “EOE” stands for and I prove my case). Boast about your diversity and inclusion. Part of being diverse and inclusive is providing “equal opportunity employment” or “EOE” (ahhhh, see how it all comes together! Its not just legal jargon!) So what do you need? Here is the scoop:

  • Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law (11/09)
  • Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law Supplement (until the day comes when the poster is updated to merge the two)
  • Pay Transparency Provision (Federal Government Contractors)

Disclaimer, you may have other obligations under other federal, state, or city ordinances. You may also have more information you would like to share in your virtual HR office. Look around, what other info do you want or need to share with applicants? FMLA? USERRA? E-Verify?

Here is a practical tip: Use the same link (the main link on the OFCCP webpage) for all three required notices for Federal Government Contractors. This link will allow the user to select their preferred language. Also, if there are updates to the notices, you will not need to update a link to a new PDF.

The last two items that should, and I say should because the regulations do not specify that they be on your website. The regulations state “posted” for the availability and “on company bulletin boards” for the policy statement. However, given the intent (for applicants to access), it follows the same rationale of the virtual HR office. The items are:

  • Your Equal Employment Opportunity Policy Statement (with required verbiage)
  • Your Affirmative Action Plans (AAP) availability (for view/review)

Another practical tip: Put your AAP availability information in your Policy Statement.

I was fortunate enough to “grow up” learning Human Resources from some amazing mentors in wonderful organizations. The first cardinal rules ingrained in me were that the HR office ALWAYS opens on time, and EVERYONE is greeted and treated like a guest to your home. I came to understand that in HR we are a direct reflection of the organization. This means how the organization operates (with accuracy, timely, efficiently) and how everyone treats each other (kindly, professionally, and accommodating). So as we begin a new year and a new decade, if you haven’t already, get your virtual HR office in order! Nowadays, it’s easy to have a brilliantly classy career site that is both compliant AND accessible.

DirectEmployers Members, for guidelines on website compliance, including a checklist and best practices, check out the Federal Contractor Corner in DE Connect or reach out to compliance@directemployers.org.

Jennifer Polcer
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