The candidate experience encompasses every interaction with a candidate from first contact to ultimately hire (check out my latest post on this topic). From your employment messaging to your apply process to how you handle candidate feedback in the interview process, all these areas affect how a candidate views and engages with your company.
While every aspect of the candidate experience is important, I want to take a look at what I like to call “first contact”. This is where a candidate initially becomes aware of your employment brand or jobs and is the first engagement they have with your organization. While this can occur on a number of mediums including your Career Site, social channels as well as through direct contact with your recruiting / sourcing team, the most frequent place candidates first engage with you is with your job advertisements on job boards and other recruiting sites.
When you look at job advertisements out there today, however, most of them stink and for a number of reasons. They are too long, boring, have unreasonable expectations, unclear on the position, use terrible formatting to name a few. Trust me, this is not the first message you want to send to candidates looking for employment.
So how can we improve our forward facing job advertisements and make it so candidates don’t drop-off the process before they even start to apply?
Here is my deconstruction of what a good job ad should include:
Company Pitch: The candidate already knows the type of position you are recruiting for since they clicked on the job title but here’s your chance at the beginning to tell them about your company and what makes it special. I think this should be your first paragraph and in this you should have:
What your company does: This seems simple but some leave it out. You need to set up what your company does especially if you don’t have a far-reaching company brand. A few examples would be “#1 sports clothing manufacture”, “rapidly growing start-up”, “industry leading engineering firm”.
What you do well: It’s one thing to let them what you do and another to share an example or two of why you are a great company. Did you win an award? Were you on a top 100 company list? Have a good article written about you? This is your spot to brag a little and give the candidate an idea of what your company achieves.
Employment achievements: This is where you brag about your employees and company culture. Get on a best company to work for list? Have an employee that is doing something extraordinary? Have a perk or something in your company culture that is unique and special? Share it here.
You need to sell the candidate on your company first and foremost and this section will help you do that. It can also be re-used for many of your job ads (although one-offs targeted to certain candidate populations is definitely encouraged.)
Job Highlights: Once you set the stage with selling your company, it’s time to sell the position. First, you need to give a little background on the position and what candidates will be expected to do on the job. Make sure these aren’t dry responsibility statements but compelling action items that the candidate will get to do. I understand not all responsibilities can fit this but I encourage you to have fun with it.
Second, take the opportunity to add a bullet or two on why the opportunity is unique. Answer the question “why should I want this job position?”. Maybe the candidate will get access to the CEO or have advancement opportunities. What benefits will a candidate get (yes, other than a job.) A section on this is not a bad idea either.
Skills: Here’s where you get into the nitty gritty of what type of candidates you are looking for. When I see many companies get to this section, they start getting into qualifications that are very rigid such as “must have at least 10 years experience”, etc. This, however, I think is somewhat short-sighted and I’d like to replace this with skill based requirements. Work with hiring managers to boil down the requirements you can into the necessary skills a candidate must have in order to succeed in the position. This gives candidates a better idea for the candidate you are looking for in the position.
Qualifiers: While I recommend focusing on skills some qualification bullets usually need to be included. From familiarity with a coding language for programming talent to executive experience when looking for senior personnel, there are times when requirements need to be included in order to screen unqualified candidates out of the process.
In many cases, the job ad is the first hurdle you need to overcome to engage with a candidate and most importantly passive ones. Your ad needs to be compelling in order to convince them to move on in the process and apply for a position.
When creating your job ads, it’s important to think of them as just that, advertisements. Your goal should be to sell all candidates on why they should continue on in the apply process and want to work for your company. If you can do this, you are golden.*
*Although you need to continuously track your success with recruitment metrics to make sure your messaging is working.