October 31, 2018

Recruitment Advertising Ideas to Increase Applicant Quality

Alicia Little head shot
Alicia Little
Marketing Director
October 31, 2018

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Recruitment advertising is a booming part of the talent acquisition mix and increasingly important as unemployment dips lower and nabbing top talent becomes more competitive.  When carefully planned, recruitment advertising can deliver great results in the form of quality, hireable candidates.

The best part? You define quality. No matter what your definition of quality is, defining and organizing your recruitment advertising strategy to support that desired outcome is the best way to ensure you get ROI from your advertising budget.

Here are 5 suggestions we have for ensuring you achieve quality at the applicant level (which, as we know, trickles down to hires!).

Craft Better, Clearer Job Titles

While there will always be those people who think they can apply to jobs without proper experience, there are steps you can take to minimize the ‘bad fits’ and maximize the ‘good fits’. There are three challenges of job titles related to attracting quality candidates – ambiguity, length, and what I like to call ‘noise’.

  • Ambiguity – ensure that your job titles really capture what the job is and where it is located. This means that when someone is attracted by the opportunity your job title represents, they shouldn’t get any surprises when they click to view the job description.
  • Length – we’ve researched billions of job ads and millions of job applications and found that shorter titles lead to higher applicant rates (aka. conversion rates to some). Optimal word count? One to three words. Quality candidates know what they want and they don’t want to waste time trying to read and interpret your job titles; they will move on quickly.  Don’t lose them with vague or lengthy job titles.
  • ‘Noise’ – we know you’re trying to appeal to Millenials, and you might think it ‘hip with the kids’ to include symbols, emojis, or words like ‘ninja’ or ‘guru’ in your job title, but it just.doesn’t.work.  We’ve done the research and you will see higher apply rates if you avoid these characteristics in your job titles.

Know Your Conversion to Hire Ratio

When it comes to recruitment advertising and managing your budget, it helps to have an understanding of your conversion rates at all stages of the candidate/hiring journey so you can plan, forecast, and not overspend budget where you don’t need to (pssst…
technology can help with this!). In terms of quality, this means you want to know, ‘ok, for me to hire one amazing person for role X, I need to interview X people and in order for me to get X people to interview, I will need X applicants’ and so on and so forth.

Tracking conversions ‘down the funnel’ means you can more efficiently allocate your recruitment advertising budget to priority roles, or to roles where you haven’t yet hit that ‘sweet spot’ of applicants that you know you need to get that one great (aka. quality) hire. Of course this will vary by role type and location and other factors, but the better understanding you have of those metrics (i.e. cost-per-applicant, cost-per-quality-applicant, cost-per-hire), the better you can ensure quality.

Think Like a Marketer

Recruitment advertising has forever borrowed from the pages of the marketer’s textbook, particularly with respect to marketing strategy. In recruitment advertising terms, it’s all about understanding your target audience, knowing the ‘product’, price, place and promotion of attracting quality candidates, and measuring the sources of leads (in this case, applicants) that produce the best quality.

Understanding your target market or audience for a given job role is pivotal to making decisions about how to engage, attract, compel and convert quality applicants. What are their key demographics? Where do they spend their time online? What messages do they need to hear; in other words, what are their motivations?

Building this profile will allow you to better build your employer brand for that audience, create more compelling recruitment ads, feature the messages that resonate best with your audience, and ensure you are targeting the right people at the right places and right time.

Digging further into ‘online habits’ of your target audience, consider that while you are looking for active quality candidates, you may also need to be appealing to the passive candidate. Passive candidates may not be browsing the web during ‘regular working hours,’ for instance, or may only browse for personal purposes over the weekend.  Conversely, maybe you’re hiring for nurses; you need to place your ads at times and places when they are available to see them.

Understanding your audience provides the who, what, where, why and how for reaching quality candidates – take the time to research and plan this part of your advertising strategy as it can inform a lot of your decisions you will make at the point of spending budget.

Ensure your Apply Process is Short & Barrier-Free

Here’s the quick and dirty on apply processes: great candidates won’t waste time on your apply process if it’s too long and full of hassle. There are plenty of other jobs out there that they are qualified for that they can apply to in mere minutes, without creating an account, as an example.

Remember – you are competing for quality talent. If you really want the best applicants to apply to your jobs, heed these quick tips:

  • Don’t ask them to create an account – it’s a job application, not a marriage proposal – they need not commit just yet! Plus, it makes for a lengthy and cumbersome apply process. Imagine being a job seeker who’s applying to multiple jobs and trying to manage numerous accounts and passwords. Not fun.
  • Make sure you test your apply process on all browsers and across multiple devices (side note: if you’re ever trying to understand what sucks about your apply process – go apply for one of your jobs!)
  • Shorten your job descriptions – get right to the point, don’t ramble on with corporate jargon.
  • Keep the apply process short – don’t ask unnecessary questions (at least for this initial phase) and try to keep the entire process under 5 minutes, as our research indicates that you will yield the highest apply rates.

For more data on job titles, descriptions and apply process, check out this infographic on high performing job ads and apply processes!

Test & Try

Lastly, and this also falls under ‘thinking like a marketer’ (said by a marketer herself!), keep up on recruitment advertising trends and don’t be afraid to test and try new things.  New
technologies, ideas, tools are emerging all the time — maybe they’re not a fit for you, but maybe they are. Set aside time and money to explore.

Additionally, when crafting and posting job ads, take time to test – conduct A/B tests on job titles, job descriptions that feature different benefits, as an example, or maybe even test the ad creatives to see which imagery/fonts/colours ultimately get you the result you are looking for – quality applicants. You’ll not only attract the ‘right people,’ but you may be able to tighten up your cost-per-candidate acquisition because you’ll know what to do to achieve higher apply rates!

While some of these tips might seem time-consuming, they are all made easier with the emergence of digital tools and technology and the availability of data to fuel decision making. Don’t settle for status quo and that mentality of doing things ‘the way we always have’ because you will get left behind. This industry is moving fast and furious, but it’s also an exciting time to shake up your strategy to get better results, achieve greater efficiency, and evolve with the changing talent landscape.

No matter what your definition of quality is, the important part is that you define it, plan for it, test for it and measure it. To learn more about technology-enabled recruitment advertising, check out Programmatic Recruitment Advertising: The Better Way to Promote Job Ads Online.

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