I've been an entrepreneur in the online recruitment market for over 15 years. I have built two successful start-ups in that time and sold one of my businesses to a major newspaper group. Several things have really struck me during that time - and one of them is that you can never share too many times the steps that should be followed to be successful in online advertising.
The reason for this I think is quite understandable. Recruiters aren't experts on the various advertising platforms they use. You post jobs only sporadically and so in many instances never get to the point that you know instinctively what's going to work on any given advertising platform.
That's why it's the job of anyone selling job advertising to be constantly helping recruiters to understand what they could be doing to be more effective. These are the people who see campaign after campaign, see what's working and what's not. These are the people with the insights you need to become more effective with your recruitment advertising campaigns.
So with that in mind, I'd like to share here a few tips you can implement today to be more effective with the job posts you're publishing. As hiring markets rebound strongly in both the US and UK, hopefully these insights can help you at just the point where you find yourself under pressure to deliver.
Where you advertise your roles is the foundation for success. Does the platform reach a large audience of your target hires and is it optimised to generate applications from that audience? This is the reason why so many corporate careers pages still only make a modest contribution to total applications. It's also why online news sites typically underperform in generating candidate applicants when compared with dedicated jobs boards. The site must have both the audience that you're targeting - and a design that puts securing job applications above everything else. Do the ones you're using tick those boxes?
I'm assuming you would like to attract great people to join your business. Great people are generally successful and mostly not in a position that they have to change jobs. They can certainly be won over to make a change. They may already have decided that it's time to move on. But they will probably be courted by multiple suitors and so you're competing in a battle to win them over to your business.
At no point in the hiring process can this battle be lost more infuriatingly than at the point where your vacancy is advertised. Within a minute of considering your business as an employer, I may be enthused and inspired to want to work for you. Or I may be alienated by the clear disinterest the recruiter has shown in posting something that might stand out.
The two culprits here are the internal PR department and the loathsome job description. Both yank a recruiter's attention away from what you absolutely need to be focusing on - how can I make this role really appeal to the people I want to reach?
Take your draft job advert and imagine showing it to someone on your team who's the calibre of candidate you'd really like to attract. Now ask them - does this advert remind you of all the reasons you chose to join our company? If the answer is no, it's time to start afresh. Your job advert should sell why the opportunity is a great opportunity. It should convey why people love working in your business. It should appeal to people's desire to be happy and to better themselves professionally. Unfortunately the standard PR Department "company introduction + death-by-bullet-point list of requirements (copied and pasted from the internal job description)" does nothing of the sort!
The wording of your advert is also essential. Job titles need to be chosen that conform to the industry norm for the role, rather than that convoluted title that your company happens to have given the position. You've got to make it simple for people to see that your role is one that they are suited to, otherwise they'll just skip by and click on someone else's advert instead.
Similarly you want to give keywords some consideration. Whether it's to ensure that your role appears in Google searches, or in the search results of the job board in question, a few minutes spent here can increase candidate views considerably.
There's one thing that strikes me more than anything else when I think back on my 15 years in online recruitment advertising. The most successful recruiters I have worked with have all understood that job advertising is a numbers game.
Looking at each of these very briefly in turn... There are X number of target candidates out there who would fit this brief. What the actual number X is isn't nearly as important as an appreciation of whether that number means you're going to have to pull out all the stops to actually hire such a person through advertising. Over the years it has always amazed me that recruiters often prefer to advertise their hardest to fill vacancies. If the candidate profile you're seeking is extremely rare, the chances of online advertising being successful are dramatically reduced! At best you're putting yourself in a position where every add-on and premium service the job board offers is one you need to be paying for to increase the odds in your favour. At worst you're consigning yourself to almost certain failure.
Next up, the question of which job board you choose to use clearly has an impact on what fraction of the total market you're reaching. Again it's always a surprise to me when a recruiter chooses to use just one of several job boards that operate in their niche. Sure it keeps your costs down, but if you've just halved the number of suitable candidates who'll see the vacancy then you've also just halved the shortlist of candidates you're going to have available to work with. Was that a saving worth making?
It should logically follow on from this that making the effort to write a seductively worded advert will massively boost the ultimate shortlist of candidates you generate. Of all the factors you have real influence over, this one probably more than any other is the one where you as a recruiter can make a material difference. So grab yourself a latte and a quiet room and go and write creatively for just 10 minutes. The results will astound you!
Of course once we accept that job advertising is a numbers game, every step of that job advertising process becomes something that can be tweaked and perfected. Some job boards will perform better than others. Some styles of job adverts will outperform others. Part of your success as a recruiter will come down to whether or not you're tracking these variations and results effectively or not.
A final thought though is that the more buoyant the market, the more we want to be targeting not just active candidates but passive candidates too. If we can find ways to double the number of potential candidates viewing a role then we have materially enhanced our chances of successfully advertising for the hires we need to make. Fully leveraging social media to reach your target candidate audience is one very effective way of doing this.
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