Don’t Buy a Tool to Generate More Applications When You Really Want Better Applications

While there is a wide spectrum of people looking for a job and potentially interested in changing their life for you, let’s break them into two camps: people who need to do a lot of research before they apply and people who don’t. Let’s call these groups “shoppers” and “button-clickers.”

Button-clickers believe that a job search is a numbers game: the more jobs they apply to, the more the odds go up of getting an interview and finally an offer. Sure, they believe in “fit,” but they are going to put the burden on you to figure out if they are who you want.

Shoppers will do lots of research before ever applying. They don’t want to manage a hundred open applications. They believe in fit, but believe they know more about themselves than you do, thus placing the burden on themselves.

The higher up the career ladder you go, the more likely someone is to be a shopper than a button-clicker. Not sure that’s true? How many “not even remotely qualified for the job but they applied anyway” candidates did you get for your entry-level marketing job, and how many of the same did you get for your VP of Sales and Marketing job? It’s not even close.

The issue is that we forget to see these groups as separate. We build career sites and manage ATS’s, and we worry about how many steps there are to apply. A shopper doesn’t care about how many steps there are, so long as they know they are on the right path. A button-clicker, because they need to fill out ten applications today, wants the fastest path to the application.

When we populate those career sites, we tend to fill them with just enough information to encourage button clicking. We don’t say anything negative for fear of spooking the button-clicker. What career site has ever said that the company demands long hours and family-ignoring commitment?

We push out ads in bulk to whomever will likely listen (almost all of the button-clickers). We cheer when our “clicks to apply” numbers go down, indicating we’ve effectively greased the chute between the candidate and the application.

But when you really look at your candidates, who would you guess you’re going to hire? Who’s going to grow and thrive over the long haul? Who’s going to be engaged throughout the hiring process and become loyal employees? Not the button clickers.

You want the people who did their due diligence and know exactly what they’re getting into when they click “apply.” You want the people who have enough information to say, “Yes, this is the job for me,” rather than saying, “Yes, this is a job.”

The best part about button-clickers is that you almost have to hide the apply button from them. They don’t need to be convinced or persuaded. You have a job, and they want one of those. So in reality, you really never have to do anything more to attract them. They already live on Indeed and SimplyHired and Monster looking for new buttons to click.

So when you look at any strategy, tactic or tool in trying to recruit the best, ask yourself one simple question: is this a tool designed to attract shoppers, the people who need lots of information before applying? Or is this designed to attract more button-clickers, the people who are already applying for my jobs?

This kind of thinking will make it easier to focus on what’s really important in growing your talent pool.


This is one part of a larger article focusing on where recruiters and recruitment marketers are making the biggest mistakes as they embrace the digital space. You can read Four Digital Mistakes Made By Recruiting Marketers at meshworking.com.

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