You’ve put ads up online, you’re ready to hire, but those stellar candidates don’t seem to be coming through – why not? With unemployment rising in NZ due to Covid-19, you might be wondering why your vacancy isn’t attracting the quality applicants you’d hoped for. There can be a few different reasons for this, so let our latest top tips help you troubleshoot:

Either not enough or too much detail in the ad:
Job ads that fall on either end of the spectrum may be passed by. Information overload is a quick way to put off a prospective candidate, just as not enough detail about what the job entails will trigger alarm bells.

Job ads should be clear and concise, covering off the basics such as what duties are involved, overall aim of the position, the values of the company and what’s in it for the candidate. Keep the tone positive and engaging but don’t try to cram too much into the ad. Remember that people may be viewing it on a mobile device, so too much dense text is going to be off-putting on such a small screen.

Make your position description readily available so those wanting a greater level of detail can get it. Job ads that talk in jargon specific to your industry/company might make sense to you, but may mean absolutely nothing to an outsider. Avoid the common trap of transplanting text from the position description into the ad because they’re two very different things that serve completely different purposes.

Level of experience required not made clear:
Sometimes the problem is not so much a lack of interest in your role, but a lack of understanding of what exactly you’re looking for. Is your Accountant vacancy suitable for an up-and-comer or a seasoned professional? If you don’t make the level of experience required clear in the ad, chances are you won’t get what you’re looking for.

Typically there are two ways for Job Seekers to judge what level of experience a vacancy is pitched at – either the ad itself spells it out: “minimum 2+ years experience at an intermediate level”, or they use the indicated salary as a guide. If either of those details are missing, your perfect candidates may be missing too. Avoid lots of unsuitable applications, by making it clear what level of experience is required right from the get-go.

List of ‘must haves’ is too long:
Research has shown that women are less likely to apply for a role if they don’t tick every box in the “skills” section of a job ad, whereas their male counterparts are more likely to give it a shot regardless of how many of the prerequisite skills they can demonstrate. If you’re putting together a job ad, separate out the absolute must-haves from the nice-to-haves. That way you won’t be putting off those that are highly capable, but just a little harder on themselves!

You say you will only respond to successful applicants:
Unfortunately it’s become common to see phrases like this at the bottom of job ads:

“Only successful applications will be contacted”

Hirers can be so inundated with applications that they decide they’ll only respond to the one’s they want to progress with, while the rest of the applicants are left wondering.

If a client or customer took the time to contact you, you wouldn’t ignore them. So why ignore a job applicant who has expressed interest in your organisation? After all, a candidate today may well be a customer tomorrow. If you’re asking people to take the time to submit an application to your vacancy, then it’s only fair that you take the time to respond to them and provide an outcome.

Seeing something like that on a job ad tells the candidate that you don’t have time to run the recruitment process properly (or it’s not a legitimate vacancy in the first place), which in turn doesn’t fill them with much confidence about working with your organisation.

Job title doesn’t fit the role/is too unusual or niche:
Job titles can be a funny thing. It’s not uncommon to have a variety of different names for what is essentially the same job function. Some places like to use some creativity with their titles – an Accountant may be called a “Number Ninja” for example. Others may be bound to a specific structure to keep it consistent across the organisation which can be confusing to an outsider.

While it might be tempting to go for the attention-grabbing title like “Director of Fun” or “Happiness Manager”, be wary of how online job boards work. Job seekers are typically inputting keywords to find what they’re looking for. If your job titles are too outside the box, they may not come up in searches or be noticed by the right people.

This isn’t to say that you can’t get creative with names, but when it comes to attracting talent, it might be worth advertising under the more commonly known title in order to attract a wider pool of candidates. Then you can discuss names and titles with your preferred candidates going forwards.

They’ve seen it too many times before:
Job Seekers tend to be wary of roles they’ve seen advertised multiple times because it understandably raises a few red flags: “Why haven’t they been able to find someone? What’s wrong with the job or the organisation?”

There could be a million reasons why a role has been advertised more than once – the preferred candidate might’ve had a change in circumstances, maybe they didn’t find the right person for the job, perhaps there’s actually more than one job available or another resignation has come through. Even though the reason is completely legitimate, it’s hard not to jump to worst-case scenarios in your head when you see an employer that always seems to be hiring.

Whatever the reason, if you’re going back to market with a vacancy that’s been advertised recently, be prepared to have to work a little harder to sell your opportunity. If you have the option, wait a little bit before re-advertising to avoid viewer fatigue. If time is a luxury you can’t afford and it’s appropriate, you can include a line in your ad as to why the role is available, which may alleviate some doubts or concerns.

No contact details available:
It’s amazing how many job ads are out there with no contact details for the Hiring Manager or Recruiter listed. What if an amazing candidate has seen your ad, their interest is piqued and because they’re serious about your opportunity, they have a few questions before putting together their application. If your ad only has the “apply now” option and no contact details listed, chances are that candidate will move on to the next vacancy.

Don’t make it impossible for curious candidates to contact you about the vacancy. If you don’t have capacity to deal with the enquiries, engage a recruitment agency to help manage the application process for you.

How can I tell if my ad is underperforming?
If you’re hiring on a regular basis, you might have a good idea of what a “typical” number of applications looks like for your organisation. For others it can be hard to know whether your ad is letting you down, or if there’s another factor at play.

If you’re posting on common platforms like Seek or LinkedIn, data is available that lets you know how many people have viewed the ad and how many actually applied. If you’re seeing a big disparity between job views and applications, that could indicate that something in the ad is putting people off. If you’re seeing low views and low application numbers, the ad may not be reaching the right eyes in the first place and you may need to reconsider the job title, location or categories that you are advertising under.

If you’re struggling to fill a vacancy and don’t have the time or energy to devote to it, reach out to a recruitment agency (like us!) for assistance. We work with our clients in a variety of ways, there’s no one-size fits all approach. Perhaps you only need help receiving and processing applications, or creating the job ad itself. That’s where an agency like ourselves can step in and help with as little or as much as you need. So if you’re feeling a bit stuck, don’t hesitate to reach out and see how we may be able to help!

Best wishes,

Kirsty and Nikki

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