Unemployment is at a 50-year low.1 That means the job of converting job seekers into actual applicants is tougher than ever.
However, the average number of applicants is still at 36 applicants for every job posted in the United States.2 If you’re consistently falling below this benchmark, it’s very possible that your applicant shortage issue lies with your job posting.
As with most things, it makes sense to focus on what you can control (your job posts) rather than what you can’t (the market). Take stock of these 5 common job description deficiencies and see if a few quick fixes could get your applicant counts up:
1. You’ve described the ideal candidate… that doesn’t exist
There is nothing wrong with high standards. You absolutely need them when it comes to hiring the right candidate. However, it’s good practice to evaluate your job description line by line and question if it may actually be describing the infamous purple squirrel.
If a Master’s Degree would be nice, but isn’t actually necessary for the position, consider changing it to read, “Bachelor’s Degree” (or eliminate it in favor of experience-based criteria which would most likely generate well-educated prospects anyway). If you’d consider a high-caliber candidate with 8 years of relevant experience, make sure your job posting doesn’t discourage them from applying by requiring “10+ years of experience.” And finally, make sure your wish list of prior experience isn’t outlandishly long unless every attribute requested is truly necessary.
2. Your job description makes a better bedtime story
That’s harsh, but your job posting doesn’t get a second chance to make a first impression, right? To motivate top candidates to apply, they need more from your job description than an impersonal list of responsibilities. Key features potential applicants respond to in a job posting include:
●An accurate job title
●Clear and succinct job details
●Benefits (health, retirement, vacation, etc.)
●Unique perks (free gym membership, anyone?)
●Flextime or telecommuting opportunities
●Company background, culture and mission details
A few bonus tips? Use first-person language (we/you) to convey a more personal tone, employ bullet points to make your posting easier to digest and include a start date (even if it’s not firm) to create urgency.
3. You didn’t include a video
Videos really work! CareerBuilder clients receive a 34% increase in applications when they add video to their job postings. Videos “show” vs. “tell” and bring your culture and values to life in ways that words alone cannot.
A video can take many forms, including:
●A welcome or company vision message from the CEO
●A day in the life-style office tour
●Employee testimonial clips
●Company culture in action
New to the idea of including videos in your job description? A quick internet search will yield volumes of examples, including “What We Do For Fun” by VistaPrint, “Work/Life Balance at BambooHR and the standout “Working at Dropbox” video that engages candidates creatively by using muppets to tell their culture story.
4. There’s bias in your ads. Don’t see it? Look closer…
Your company culture is open and inclusive, so it’s alarming to learn that your job postings may not be. Recent research has shown that certain seemingly innocuous words, when used in job postings, can influence those of certain genders, races or ages not to apply.
Sometimes, it’s obvious. If “Chairman” or “Craftsman” have slipped through the cracks, “Chairperson” and “Artisan” are easy job title corrections to make.
However, there are hundreds of words and language patterns that are not so blatantly problematic – and these continue to pepper thousands of current job postings. For instance:
●The words “compassionate” or “nurturing” may lead some male applicants to feel you’re searching for female employees
●“Digital native” eliminates all potential applicants over the age of 35 while putting an upper limit on years of experience (e.g. 6-10 years of experience) rules out Gen X, boomer and even some millennial candidates!
To promote diversity and boost applicant rates, many HR professionals are leveraging AI (artificial intelligence) functionality in their recruiting technology. Not only does the tech remove potentially-problematic words, it writes compelling gender- and tone-neutral job descriptions for you.
5. Your application process is too grueling
If you’ve scoured your job descriptions and they’re pretty darn fabulous if you do say so yourself, there is a good possibility your applicant shortage problem can be blamed on what happens not before, but after a candidate clicks “Apply.” Brace yourself: a 2019 Harris Poll revealed that 42% of employees would give up before completing a difficult or confusing application while 31% would give up if was too long.
Recruiting specialists recommend the following best practices in order to improve application completion rates:
●Pre-populate candidate information from resumes to minimize frustrating re-keying
●Cut screening questions by half or more (aim for one page or less)
Talented professionals don’t need to jump through hoops to find employment. If your application demands more than 5-10 minutes of their time, you may be missing out on the best people.
Ready to boost your applicant count? Learn more about how technology can help solve common job posting issues – from writing more effective job descriptions to simplifying the application process.
1 Source: MarketWatch, October 2019
2 Source: SHRM, 2017