4 Methods for Increasing the Number of Good Candidates Responding to a Job Advertisement

good designPosting job advertisements online is a very common method for recruiting new employees. Did you know that there are simple methods for increasing the number of qualified candidates and that you can optimise the process? This will allow you to get much better results – with no change to the budget allocated to posting advertisements.

How are job advertisements (often) posted?

Usually, right after the need arises to recruit a new employee, we find a recently posted advertisement for the same or similar position. We copy its contents, introducing cosmetic changes. We send it to the portal on which we usually post. We await the results. This method has worked in the recent years. You may have already sensed that it “no longer works” or that it “doesn’t work as well as it used to”.  It may still “work” for certain positions (e.g. jobs concerning customer service, administration and marketing). I assure you, however, that it can work better.

copy post pray
This is an approach to posting advertisements that we would not recommend. 😉

Before you post: what kind of employee do you need?

Let’s pause for a bit at the moment when the need for a new employee arises. Discuss with the one commissioning the recruitment (in other words, your “client”) what exactly that person would do. If it is going to be a “mix” of responsibilities, then does it actually exist? Are there candidates who do both software development and graphic design? Or perhaps web-development and graphic design would be more reasonable? Can front desk work really be combined with the selling of training courses? If you want the candidate to combine skills that in many companies would actually be separate positions, you must determine which of those responsibilities are more important for this position, and which may be fulfilled – perhaps – in a different way.

Skills, personality and “cultural proximity”

Skills. What “hard” skills will you be looking for in an employee? Which ones will be necessary, and which ones only nice to have? Which ones the company really won’t be able to do without? Are the degree and field of education really that important? What counts more: the experience measured in years, or rather the scope of the projects in which the candidate has participated, the role he/she has played in them and what he/she has learned from them?

Personality. If you want to employ a new person for an already existing team, you must think about whom you already have, and whom the team lacks. Maybe it’s comprised only of introverts and an extrovert would complement them in a cool way? Maybe you already have employees who excel at implementing ideas, but you could use someone who will generate new ones?

“Cultural proximity”. Do you tend to organise more and less spontaneous company outings? If so, are you ready to employ someone who won’t be willing to hang out with you? Think on this point at the end of your interview with the candidate. Once you verify their skills and motivation, ask yourself and the new employee’s co-workers: “Could you become friends with this person?” That is allegedly a question that Mark Zuckerberg asks his candidates. It implies a great number of questions that are sometimes hard to phrase, and the answer to them may ultimately convince us to be “for” or “against”.

How can an advertisement be posted?

The key to success here will be to view the posting of an advertisement as a process comprised of several stages, and – what is very important – we will do so from the candidate’s point of view.

Job advertisement, as seen by the candidate

Candidates who apply for advertisements posted online pay attention to several elements of the advertisement that may determine whether they are even going to read the advertisement, start the application process and go through it.

1. Name of the position: “Who are they looking for?”

This is often the first thing that the candidate sees. Does it do a good job of conveying who you are looking for? If you want the employee to pursue sales objectives and you describe the position as “Marketing Specialist”, then will you induce the right people to check the advertisement? If you were a student, would you want to apply for the position of “Person for the Customer Care Department”? Or would you rather be “Customer Service Assistant” or “Customer Consultant”? If your advertisement has been posted on a large portal, it will be displayed to users several dozen thousand times. Only several percent of them will decide to click it and read the entire thing – also because of the name of the position, which they will regard as “something for me” or “something definitely not for me”.

2. The advertisement contents: “What do they offer?”

A picture is worth a thousand words. Draw attention with a good picture in the upper part of the advertisement. Show your employees and/or office. Use icons or graphics to present the benefits that you offer, or to explain the stages of recruitment at your company.
… but focus primarily on the content. Write the content in a way that would make one want to read it. Start with what you could offer to the candidate and write about it in a remarkable way. Then, describe the job itself (major challenges for the candidate, division of the candidate’s responsibilities between various activities expressed in percentages, something that will explain what the position entails). Remember that the candidate will still be verifying whether the name of the position is coherent with the responsibilities of the position, and pondering whether to take further action.
Application methods. Don’t force the candidate to look for instructions on what and how they should proceed to apply. The ‘Apply’ button should be easy to find and very visible. After all, that’s the main action you wish to encourage the candidate to take at this stage of recruitment. It’s very probable that your advertisement will be read by several thousand or hundred people. On average, only 10% of the people who will have viewed the advertisement will decide to start the application process and click ‘Apply’.

job offer elements
Job offer elements that discourage from applying. Source: 3rd edition of the report “Candidate Experience”, eRecruiter, 2016

3. Application form: “How much of an effort do I have to make?”

The candidate has gone quite far. They have read your offer and decided to express their interest. How much will you facilitate their remaining steps? They’re interested. You must ensure that they don’t need to struggle at this stage. You may allow them to apply by means of importing data from LinkedIn. Candidates like that a lot. You probably want the candidate to send their CV at this time? Sure! However, before you add further fields to your application form, think twice. Will you really be using these data for selecting which candidates you will invite to the next stage? Do you need to know where the candidate lives? Or to ask them for their phone number? You’re going to find such information in the CV anyway, and each extra field in the form increases the probability of the candidate abandoning it. Or maybe you’ve reached a point when you don’t require a CV? Maybe all you need are links to the candidate’s profiles on different websites? After all, at this point in time, you need to obtain the candidate’s contact information and their declaration of initial interest in the offer. On average, approx. 60% of candidates fill out the entire application form. Have you already gauged how good your form is?

4. I have applied: “What’s next?”

At this point, many candidates are wondering what’s going to happen with their application now. Sometimes, they will get an automatic confirmation from the portal that they used to apply: “Your application has been sent to the employer”. However, confirmation of delivery is not the same as confirmation of receipt. Make sure that your candidate also gets the latter. It doesn’t need to be the standard “Thank you for expressing your interest in our offer. We shall contact you if we are interested.” You can already make yourself stand out significantly at this point. Write in your e-mail: “We’re glad you’ve applied. We’ll consider your application. In the meantime, feel free to check our FB profile, and if you want to see how cool our office is, check our Instagram.”

How can you increase the efficiency of your recruitment and the number of CVs that you will ultimately receive?

1. Start working on every part of the posting of the advertisement.

By giving the position a good name and by having the advertisement featured on the listing, you can increase the number of candidates who will want to see its contents. I assume, of course, that we want to target candidates with a specific profile and that we don’t intend to make our requirements too broad and attract candidates from outside of our target group.

2. Improve the title and contents of your job offer.

Sell what you have to offer (but don’t embellish). Talk to the employees from the team for which you’re recruiting about what they really like about their work; about what makes them want to come to it. Now check if the candidate can learn all of these elements from the advertisement.

3. Simplify the application form.

Measure its conversion. If 80% of the candidates who start the application process complete it, then you may pat yourself on the back. Such result is worthy of the best forms of e-commerce websites. If the conversion is below 60%, then you have a lot of room for optimisation and for increasing the number of applications that you will ultimately receive.

4. Start building relations with the candidates.

Send the candidates a nice e-mail, even if you haven’t decided to invite them yet. Don’t let them wait too long for your decision regarding the next stage, regardless of whether it’s going to be positive or negative. If you want to meet a candidate, you will increase the chances of them actually wanting to come and not changing their mind before the interview. If you don’t want to meet them, maybe they will tell their friends about your recruitment.

Perhaps you’ve expected to learn what are our (wondrous) methods for increasing the number of good candidates and for increasing the efficiency of the recruitment. However, there is no magic here. Instead, you can approach the process analytically and treat recruitment as a sales funnel and ensure that the final success be a result of your diligent work at every stage of the process of posting the advertisement. Also, be sure to gauge the progress at each stage. Good luck!

PS: Below you will find a simple table that will help you gauge the efficiency of your advertisement:

recruitment funnel
Source: data from Great Digital

PS2: As for the further stages of recruitment that are worth measuring for efficiency, we will write about them soon!

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