Not Enough Applicant Flow? Blame Your Job Postings
All companies, no matter the size or industry, have one thing in common: their need for talent never stops.
The HR teams I meet with in the course of my job are in a continual whirlwind of sourcing, screening and offer management activity. Like yours, their recruiting team is operating at sprint speed, every day. And they too feel their efforts are not going anywhere.
One of the biggest hurdles? Not enough (or, often the wrong) applicant flow. And believe it or not, one of the main contributors to this problem is something you’re sprinting right by. Your job descriptions and posting may also be using particular words and phrases that alienate a large portion of your candidate pool.
Paying careful attention to words and phrases can help eliminate implicit racial bias, and increase diversity in the workforce and your job posting should be an attractor not a detractor for top talent.
It’s your job posting.
Yes, in many regions, the demand for talent has totally outpaced the supply for specific disciplines. But that alone is not enough to slow your flow of quality applicants to a trickle. Chances are that your competitors are simply doing a better job of marketing their opportunities.
The job posting is the foundation of your marketing efforts. Gone are the day when any ATS-generated list of responsibilities and requirements would be enough to get a response. Your relationship often begins (and ends) at this post.
Making sure your candidate can find it and relate to it is one of the most important things you can do. So how do you do that>
Help Them Find It, First
Start by reviewing your job titles. Do they describe the job? Or are they so full of vague internal jargon or creative fluff that it would be hard for the candidate to tell what the role is about? Use the terminology and words that your candidate would use to describe the role.
Internally, you might use terms like junior, senior, or lead to rank jobs, but they offer nothing of value to the candidate and can actually hinder your ability to be found on search engines. Remember that most job searches start at Google, so keep your job titles clean and keyword specific.
Studies show that men apply when they meet just 60% of the qualifications in a job ad, and women apply only if they meet 100% of them. So, it’s more important than ever to only include the most important requirements. And most important open up your qualifications to widen your candidate pool by eliminating any requirements that are not essential to the job function.
Then, Help Them Relate to It
Look at your posting from the candidate’s viewpoint and ask yourself, “would I want to apply?” If your eyes have already glossed over before you’ve finished the first paragraph, you can imagine how compelling it is to your candidate!
One of HR’s recent and most disturbing trends is beginning every posting with a paragraph description of the company. This is a horrible practice for two main reasons: first, it pushes job-related keywords further down in your copy where they do little to help your SEO, so chances are your competitor’s job posting will appear on search engine results before yours will. Secondly, this document is not about your company. In fact, this practice turns you into that guy at the party that corners people only to tell them about himself:
Company XYZ is the global leader in cotton candy. We help the world’s snack purveyors deliver deliciously fresh candy to their customers, making us well positioned in a large growing market that has been historically dominated by more traditional “hand-made candy” solutions. With thousands of customers in over 100 countries, a growth rate of 50% for the last ten years and a product that is truly different than the competition, Company XYZ has an incredibly bright future. For more information, visit the company’s web site at www.XYZ.com.
Don’t be that guy.
With a more relational approach, this same intro could help the candidate “see themselves” in the role by describing its contribution to the company’s purpose and goals. We call this making a “You Sandwich.”
Make a “You Sandwich”
The job descriptions that really connect start and end with the candidate. Start by telling them “what you’ll do” and “how your role” aligns with the business. Then, close by describing how they’ll benefit from being part of your organization.
For example, here’s the same job intro refocused on the candidate, rather than the company. You can see why this might connect better with the right sales candidate:
Hungry for a challenge? As an Account Manager for Company XYZ, you’ll represent the global leader in cotton candy. Our sales teams connect with some of the world’s largest snack purveyors, and manage a book of business that covers over 100 countries. If you’re ready to be part of a fast-paced and high-energy sales team that has driven 50% growth rate for the past ten years, this opportunity is for you.
You’ll note that taking this approach also allows you to include related keywords that can help optimize your post for better search results.
At the end of the post, rather than rattle off a staid laundry-list of benefits, bring to the forefront what your culture can offer your ideal candidate that would be of value to them specifically.
Remember Who You’re Speaking To
You have to know your audience to relate to them. If you don’t know, find out what engages likely candidates for the role you’re writing for before crafting your job posting.
For example, a candidate for a sales role will find the breadth and challenge of the opportunity exciting. A customer service candidate, though, may be better served by highlighting the company’s commitment to developing talent instead.
Draw Them into Your Brand
Taking a more thoughtful approach to customizing each post for the candidates you hope to reach isn’t just about marketing the job. It also does a lot to elevate your employee brand in the eyes of your candidate.
Your relationship with your candidate often begins with this single page online. If the job posting reads like it was written to serve a process, rather than speak to a person, chances are they’ll go elsewhere. Let your candidates know that answering your posting is worth their investment in time by investing yours in the right message.
Joe D'Antonio is a highly Strategic Talent Acquisition and Recruitment Strategy professional with experience in all phases of recruitment. He has experience with leveraging technology, people and process, while building evolving campaigns to promote consistent, efficient and engaging partnerships. Joe is a DDI Certified Targeted Selection Trainer, AIRS Certified Social Sourcing, AIRS Certified Internet Recruiter and ADP HCM Certified practitioner.