How people consume information, make purchases and communicate has changed. Importantly, how people look and apply for jobs has also changed, but unfortunately, many job application processes and job descriptions have not caught up with the times.
A disproportionately high number of application processes are lengthy, complicated and repetitive, resulting in a significant issue with candidate drop-off rates when applying for jobs. On average 80% drop-off rates according to Glassdoor.
Further to the process itself needing an overhaul, what is included in many job descriptions don’t speak to what candidates actually want to know and in many cases, are actually discouraging. The primary function of a job description is of course to advertise your open vacancy but as our workforce changes, what they want from a position and the company they work for has also changed and job descriptions should reflect this. This will ensure you improve your job applicant rates and importantly attract more bought-in, informed quality candidates.
In this two part blog we will cover how to improve your applicant rates by updating your job descriptions and how to decrease candidate drop-off rates by simplifying the application process itself. First, we’ll look at job descriptions and how to improve the number of quality applicants you receive.
The first step to creating an effective job description is to perform a job analysis. You should include everyone involved with the position, such as current employees and the department manager. If possible, have someone who has worked in the position review the job description, as they know first hand which skills and qualifications are absolutely necessary, and which can be learned on the job. This analysis will help you paint a better picture of day-to-day life in this position and who would be an ideal addition.
A recent Occupop hiring insights report we carried out found that career pages have the second highest rate of both CVs and hires, and rising year on year, with an 84% increase in CVs received via careers pages in 2020 by comparison to 2019.
This data affirms the growing trend of candidates seeking more information about a company before applying for a role. Your careers page should be the source to answer all the questions a prospective candidate might have i.e. is there opportunity for growth, what benefits are included, what are the company values etc. To avoid extremely lengthy job descriptions, you should link back to your careers page in all job description. Though you don’t want to distract candidates from applying on the platform they are on, most links will open in a new window and your careers page should have an easy to apply function throughout the entire page.
In modern hiring, more and more companies are creating new, alternative or quirky titles to attract certain candidates that would fit their profile and company culture but this can be not only confusing but off-putting as candidates might not believe the role is suitable to their skillset. Start with a straightforward, concise and easily searchable job title. This job title should clearly describe the position with language that a qualified candidate would search for and understand. Job description headlines should also immediately explain the open position. For example, more qualified candidates will search for and click on “Recruiter, Sales” than “Team Member” because they automatically know whether or not they have the skills or experience necessary for the title.
The body of your description should also be concise, descriptions that range between 700 and 2,000 words receive up to 30% more applications (Indeed). Make it skimmable by keeping paragraphs short, adding bullet points and including subheadings. If candidates are searching on the move, you want to make it easy for them to determine whether or not they are qualified enough to apply.
Though in theory asking for an MBA and over 10 years experience will ensure you attract the best quality candidates, in practice it is discouraging to potentially excellent and suitable candidates. For example, asking for over 10 years of experience will exclude younger candidates who may have been award-winning writers or developers. Additionally, a Hewlett Packard internal report found that men are likely to apply to jobs for which they only meet 60% of the requirements, while women won’t apply unless they meet a full 100%.
Consider what is actually necessary to carry out the position both in terms of technical ability and from the prospective of soft skills. This should be evident from your job analysis. Progressive companies realise that skills, particularly hard skills can be learned on the job or through company-led training. But many soft skills, which are increasingly vital for career success, are inherent and often overlooked at job description stage so make sure to include these.
Diversity & inclusion should be top of mind when creating job descriptions. To encourage a diverse workforce to want to work for you, you need to ensure you are speaking to candidates in a way that demonstrates you are a diverse and inclusive place to work, as well as offering them job benefits that reflects what a more diverse workforce needs.
Review your job descriptions with diversity & inclusion in mind, ensuring your D&I mission is included and removing any wording that might infer bias:
Two areas that are often not included in job descriptions but are becoming more and more important to sway a candidate into hitting the apply button are the interview process and inclusion of salary.
According to office vibe, top quality candidates are gone within 10 days! Though you can’t eliminate this happening in the job description alone, including clarity on the process will give the candidate a transparent timeline on the process. This will result in an immediately more positive candidate experience and allow candidates to realistic have a plan around their job search.
Secondly and more contentious inclusion is including salary. Many companies are put off as it will cause issues with current employees. However, job descriptions with salaries get 75% more clicks than those without (Stack Overflow), so it absolutely worth considering. Though of course, transparency in all facets of business, including salaries, should be equal and open, circumstances like short-term contracts or head-hunting a certain candidate might require companies to adapt their salary offers somewhat from employee to employee.
A way to overcome potential internal discord is to create salary bands and criteria for hiring which can be shared with all employees. This will then give people context for why someone might earn slightly more, but it also gives HR teams a document to refer to during salary review meetings.
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What is included in many job descriptions don’t speak to what candidates actually want to know and in many cases, are actually discouraging. Here are 5 ways to improve not only the number of applicants, but the quality.