Three top job ad tips for recruiters

Candidate experience is increasingly becoming an important aspect of the hiring process.

MichaelPage recently released local insight into the pivotal role of job advertisements, which is the first impression that a candidate has about a company.

Candidates regarded contract type as the most important information contained in job ads. In addition, 52 percent said job title is the key piece of data in any job posting, followed by job title (47 percent) and job location (48 percent). Other pieces of information that candidates focus on include position seniority (24 percent), publication date of the job (19 percent) and company name (16 percent).

Furthermore, which may be surprising to some recruiters, 71 percent of candidates said they read the whole job advertisement, while the remainder said they read at the most 80 – 90 percent.

This preference for reading the whole ad may be linked to accessibility. Many candidates now view job postings on their mobile devices. Over one-third of those polled said they mainly use mobile devices to read job ads and use the same devices to apply for the position. And a third of candidates still use mainly desktop or laptop computers to submit the application.

Some recruiters are experimenting with original and creative formats for job ads. But the candidates polled in South Africa have different priorities. More than half said they prefer a professional, detailed format. Around 36 percent like having short and concise job advertisements, while 43 percent appreciate an ad that has subgroups for structure and clarity.

Sometimes, candidates notice what isn’t included in job advertisements as much as what is. For example, almost nine in 10 like to see information about company culture. A similar proportion think that job ads should include salary range, while 60 percent say they are interested in learning more about the organisation’s benefits and perks.

Not all candidates read job advertisements because they’re interested in applying for the position. Some simply use the information to benchmark the salary and job description of the advertised role against their own terms of employment. However, a quarter of those surveyed say they use job ads to benchmark regularly (at least once a year), while 29 percent do it every two to three years and 46 percent say they never use job ads for benchmarking.

Even the most comprehensive job advertisement only tells the candidate a fraction of what they need to know about a company before accepting a position. Interestingly, 96 percent of those polled in the survey also look at the company website, 77 percent use online reviews on sites like Glassdoor or Google reviews to help them make an assessment, whilst a lower proportion look at the organisation’s social media channels. It’s worth noting that 32 percent of respondents say they try to contact current or former employees to get inside information on the company.

Just over half the respondents said they don’t apply for a position if they feel over- or under-qualified for the role. The second most important factor is if the job ad was posted long ago, with 47 percent of respondents saying they wouldn’t apply for a position if the job ad was posted a long time ago.

Other criteria include salary (a determining factor for 33 percent of respondents), company reputation (32 percent) and clarity of the job description in the ad (31 percent). Recruiters and hiring managers should note that a full 32 percent of respondents say they wouldn’t apply for a position if it involved filling out long forms.

Key learnings for recruiters

  1. Hiring managers and talent acquisition teams can learn the following from the survey data:
    Contract type is a key piece of information for candidates and should be prominently displayed in the ad.
  2. Candidates like job ads that are comprehensive and professional in both form and content. You risk missing out on top candidates if your ads are difficult to read or contain inconsistent information.
  3. E-reputation and employer branding are vital! Before they apply, candidates will assess you and your company culture based on your corporate website, social media channels and employee review sites.