BASF : Career chat

A German chemical manufacturer’s innovative online chat feature puts jobseekers directly in touch with employees.

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The feature

BASF’s careers chat is part of a package of ‘Connected Minds’ features within the Careers area of its corporate website. The Connected Minds landing page invites jobseekers to ‘Connect with our employees’ in a number of ways in addition to chatting: including reading their blogs, meeting them in person at a job fair or sending them a question via a feedback form.

On the landing page there are several image panels for employees available for chats (nearly 50 employees were listed when we visited). Each has a welcoming headshot and succinct information – name, seniority level, department and location. Onward links lead to individual employee profile pages with more detailed information under standard headings – ‘About me’, ‘ ‘My BASF’, ‘My qualifications’ and ‘My interests’. Languages the employee speaks are also listed. Along the right are ‘upcoming events’ (usually hour-long slots) when the employee will be available for an online conversation.

The takeaway

BASF has taken an old idea – the online chat room – and applied it in an innovative, modern way. We have seen chat used by human resources (HR) before, mainly through intermittent sessions with HR team members. Here, the feature is being used in a systematic way to connect with those ‘in-role’ around the company, and jobseekers will appreciate the chance to speak openly with current employees about their experiences. Even if jobseekers don’t make time to join one of the chats, the fact that so many employees are part of the programme sends the message that BASF is a friendly and welcoming place to work.

The functionality of the chats themselves is user friendly. For example, when it was the appointed hour for a chat with ‘Sebastian’, a pop-up window opened with Sebastian’s headshot and the message: ‘A warm welcome to our chat. Do you have any questions about my career/how I started my career or my job at BASF?’ There are fields for name and question to kick off the session. BASF also offers separate online chats with the HR team if there are specific questions about applications.

A large part of the appeal of the feature is the good planning and organization. Diversity is evident in the range of employees involved – by gender, race, age, nationality, level of seniority and job function – increasing the likelihood that prospective employees around the globe will feel a connection with the BASF workforce. The chat we clicked into started exactly on time, and there are frequent chat events in the calendar on the site so the opportunities do not seem sparse (although one day later a finished session was still being billed as an ‘upcoming event’). The BASF website is responsive (automatically adjusting to any screen size) so jobseekers can use the feature on mobile devices, and the design, at least for the chat feature, does not sacrifice desktop usability.
First published 18 March, 2015
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