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I am trying to talk a client out of changing the label "Careers" to "Jobs" or "Working with [my clients rather long name]". I have not tested this (yet) but my intuition is that "Careers" is a very standard term that job seekers look for. Do you agree or disagree with me? If you agree, do you have any evidence/backup I could use?

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This could be a good question for english.stackexchange.com –  Danny Varod May 31 '12 at 10:00
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Possibly more important that what you call it, is whether its going to get hidden away on some submenu on the site. –  PhillipW May 31 '12 at 10:48
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5 Answers

No evidence though but a quote from the 1st chapter of Steve Krug's strongly recommended Don't make me think:

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For instance, 'Jobs' may sound too undignified for XYZ Corp, or they may be locked into 'Job-o-Rama' because of some complicated internal politics, or because that's what it's called in their company newsletter. My main point is that the tradeoffs should usually be skewed further in the direction of 'Obvious' than we care to think.

I think the country and the audience also matter. In some countries 'Careers' might be the best choice. The only way to find out is to run a proper A/B test. I assume the company wants to drive more traffic and/or attention to their jobs page, so the metric is cristal clear here.

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It's always worth bearing in mind Jakob's Law of the Internet User Experience:

Users spend most of their time on other sites.

This is where your competitor analysis comes in. You should already have a reasonable understanding of the main competitors to your client. What are they using? If half-a-dozen competitors are all using 'Jobs' and you then recommend to your client to break with this established route and go with 'Careers' instead then you're going to have a harder time convincing the client that you are correct and everyone else is wrong.

However, if the competitors are all currently using 'Careers' then you can use that as supporting evidence to take to the client to show them "Careers is what the target-market is expecting this area to be called based on {these competitors} sites"

Finally, it's also worth remembering that the client is paying you to put this together. There is only so much advice you can part before you just have to suck it up and go along with what they request.

(This is coming from someone who is constantly fighting a losing battle against new clients adding in a 'Our Solutions' menu option to their websites.)

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Lets examine the suggestions...

  • Jobs - could be available jobs, jobs we have done

  • Careers - a career isn't one role, it is a chain of roles over time

  • Work with X - looking for partners?

What may be clearer is...

  • Career opportunities - a chance to advance a career

  • Available positions (or open positions) - speaks for itself

  • Work for us - also speaks for itself (us, not X would be shorter and sound more appealing)

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I can't give you data to back up which one is easier perceived by users, but my gut tells me that your third option 'working-with-client-name' is not the way to go based on what we learn about simplicity in design - as well as the awesome example posted from Steve Krug's book.

Now the tricky part: Careers vs Jobs. Have you asked your client why they want to do that?
There may be an underlying reason why they have chosen to go this route - like a stategy, branding decision or maybe just the way they want communicate through the touch points in which they interact with people on their site.

Maybe it will help to give direction if you look at the meaning of the two words: Career vs Job.

Job

A job is a regular activity performed in exchange for payment. - Wikipedia

Adjective noun: a piece of work, especially a specific task done as part of the routine of one's occupation or for an agreed price: She gave him the job of mowing the lawn. - Dictionary.com

Career

Career is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as a person's "course or progress through life (or a distinct portion of life)". - Wikipedia

Noun: an occupation or profession, especially one requiring special training, followed as one's lifework: He sought a career as a lawyer. - Dictionary.com

Based on this there is a clear distinction in the message the two words that it sends where a career feels like a long term path.

It also depends very much on the context of where this link will be placed where the word jobs can mean 1. Jobs - as in career opportunities or 2. Jobs - availble as in contracts for freelancers or 3. Jobs - as in portfolio of work that has been done by the company. You get the idea of what I am trying to illustrate around the context of the words.

The best way to get to a solution is to conduct a small A/B usability test around the information architecture where you can ask the relevant users to tell you what they expect happens when they would click on a link called 'Careers' and the second group 'Jobs' and then measure the outcome.

You can also during this test ask the user afterwards through a labeling test exercise which word they prefer.

All this of course is not based on actual data, but more on the principals of design and heuristics of simplicity which all point to speaking the user's language so that they understand what you mean. In that itself there is another problem which was mentioned earlier, that this means the user's language is different to their context of where they live (UK, USA, France).

In the end the best data you will get is from testing it with some of the users that will be on the site.

Hope that helps to give you some direction.

Relevant Links:
Wikipedia's Definition of Job: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Job
Dictionary.com's Definition of Job: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/job
Wikipedia's Definition of Career: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Career
Dictionary.com's Definition of Career: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/career
Ten Usability Heuristics by Jakob Nielsen: http://www.useit.com/papers/heuristic/heuristic_list.html

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I actually agree with your clients here, because "Jobs" - at least in my areas and country - is what I am looking for if I want to work with them. However people-focused, career-orientated and mission-driven the company is, at the end of the day, most people have a job and just get on with it. It may turn into a long-term relationship, with career progression, but that is not the focus at the start.

"Career" sounds to me like you are wanting to take on new graduates and help them in starting their career. That is not me, so maybe I am not interested.

"Work for/with us" is OK depending on the size of company. If it is a small, friendly company, then this can work. If it is a large impersonal place, then there is a disconnect, and it puts me off.

As Krug quoted by @User12999 states, make it simple, make it obvious. It may not fit in with the companys image of itself, but that is not who it is designed for. It needs to fit with the visitors expectations.

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