Are You Attracting the Wrong Job Applicants?

Are You Attracting the Wrong Job Applicants?

Recruiting the right candidate for the right role can be stressful and time-consuming. BrighterBox's Charlie Johnson shares his tips on how to attract worthwhile applicants.

By Charlie Johnson

As a business owner or hiring manager you’re exceptionally short of time, so the arduous task of writing up a list of responsibilities and requirements can end up being rushed or even sidelined. This can result in job adverts which lack personality and fail to make meaningful connections with the talent you want to attract.

Here are some of the most common mistakes we see in online descriptions, as well as a few easy fixes to maximize your chances of making that hire.

Take the time to stand out

Your job ads are a representation of you, your business and its culture, so you need to make sure that this is reflected in the language you use and the information you share. You’re selling the opportunity of working at your business so it’s worth ensuring that your ads are authentic.

You need to bear in mind that there are thousands of other listings trying to compete for the same space and the same talent. Use your business elevator pitch to hook the reader in. Write a paragraph talking about your work culture, a day in the office, how your team works together, your values and everything else you stand for. Have you recently been on a team building day or social? Tell applicants about it. These types of perks genuinely resonate with entry-level candidates.

Is your job title the problem?

As online consumers, our eyes are drawn to subject lines or headlines that connect with us. In job ads, this refers to the job title itself. 

Particularly at graduate level and entry-level, there is a lack of understanding of what job titles mean, with business jargon often clouding the true meaning of a role’s expectations. Let’s take the job title 'Account Manager'. How many graduates will know that this isn’t a position that deals with company finances? What does a Business Development Executive actually do? In fact, isn’t an 'executive' someone vastly experienced who operates at management or board level?

Perhaps your team is looking for someone technical to work on front-line client support? You’ll likely need to focus on candidates with a technical degree or an intermediate understanding of technology, who also have experience in customer facing roles, such as retail or hospitality. Calling your job vacancy 'Service Support Engineer' or something equally impressive may resonate clearly with you and your internal teams but, as all good marketers should know, you need to write and cater for your audience.

It pays to research and refine your ideal candidate demographic to focus on the wants and needs of that particular role. The job market can be confusing, so don’t be afraid to simplify.

Avoid overly creative job titles if you want to rank on Google Careers, as their algorithm rewards good structure and clarity of pay, location and job title. Note that it can also sometimes work in your favour to play around, especially if the role itself is weird and wonderful. Some of our top performing and highest reaching job adverts at BrighterBox have had ludicrous titles such as 'Blogger of Cool Stuff' and ‘Head of Mischief’. Finding the balance between clarity and creativity is crucial, and will depend on your brand and the candidates you want to attract. 

Speak in your brand's tone of voice

Long, boring job descriptions that are overly generic and don’t speak in your brand voice can often feel rushed and will attract unsuitable candidates. It’s so easy to apply in one-click these days that job-seekers are getting lazier with their applications, often sending the same C.V out to multiple vacancies without adapting a word. If your job descriptions are generic, you'll receive generic applicants, and lots of them.

The ideal outcome from posting a job advert is to get 3-5 great candidates applying rather than hundreds of mediocre ones. Ensuring that your job descriptions are clear, crisp and on-brand will certainly help to weed out unsuitable applicants. 

Along with tone of voice, it's also important to remain aware of unconscious gender bias in job specs. Leaning towards masculine or feminine descriptions might dissuade the best candidates from applying. There’s a lot of research and plenty of tools available online to ensure your language is weighted correctly. 

Before posting, always remember to thoroughly check the ad to ensure it's consistent with your style guide and tone of voice. It's an extension of your business after all. 

Make it pay

Getting the pay range right is crucial. Are you aware of market rates? Our internal research showed the importance of a graduate salary starting with a 2 (i.e. £20,000+) versus anything slightly less (£19,000).

On the other hand, if the range offered is too high, the applicants might see the role as being out of reach. This can actually run the risk of alienating applicants who may have the experience level you’re looking for.

Get these aspects right and you’ll be on the right track to making the hire your business needs in no time.

About the Author

Charlie Johnson is the CEO & Founder of BrighterBox.com, a graduate recruitment company that specialises in connecting emerging talent with entry-level roles at startups, creative and tech companies in London.