Improving the odds

Recruitment advertising has one big advantage over other forms of direct response advertising.

A recruitment ad only needs to find one customer.

Most companies and recruiters know this (if only subconsciously) although many expect to find 3 or 4 from which they can choose the one. I think this can cause people (Hiring Managers, HR, TA and Recruiters) to go in one of two directions.

The First Direction

This is where the job poster crafts content that sells the job in terms that mean something to the target candidates. Sometimes this can be achieved in as little as 2 or 3 sentences – if those sentences offer reasons why this job might be better than the one the reader is currently doing and if they’re delivered as quickly as possible.

They do this because they think if they can just get a handful of extra applications from qualified candidates who otherwise wouldn’t have responded (or even read beyond the opening few sentences), then their odds of filling the job have improved dramatically.

These are invariably potential candidates who don’t need another job but might want a better one.

Getting potential candidates who need another job to respond to an ad, email or Inmail is easy. They’ll respond to good and bad content because ‘need’ is a negative motivator, whereas ‘want’ is a positive motivator.

The Second Direction

This is where the job poster thinks that passive candidates don’t read job postings (or emails and Inmails about new jobs) and so don’t make any effort to sell the job and hope that someone qualified who is either unemployed or in a job they hate, sees the job posting.

I suspect sometimes this is done without much thought – either because the job poster doesn’t know any better or because they (if they’re an agency recruiter) are playing the numbers game and hoping the job posting gets lucky, which sometimes it will if they’re posting several new jobs every week, which many of them are.

This approach can sometimes work, especially if done at scale – but it is reliant on factors outside of the job poster’s control, other than distribution spend. But, in many job disciplines right now, that approach is only speaking to a very small section of the potential candidate pool.

I guess this all boils down to one critical question.

Do Passive Candidates Read Job Postings?

Or, why would someone who doesn’t need another job look at job postings? Here are some scenarios where they might…

  • Their company has been taken over and they think there might be some restructuring.
  • They’re not learning anything anymore, or they’re starting to feel bored or unchallenged.
  • They’ve had a bad day or didn’t get that pay rise or promotion they were hoping for.
  • They occasionally look at job postings just to see what else is going on in their sector.
  • Or maybe a friend or colleague forwarded them a link to a job posting.

Depending on what reports you read, somewhere between 60-75% of employed people would be open to learning about a better job. How many of them will occasionally look at job postings is anyone’s guess.

But we know they are out there – and it only needs one qualified and motivated candidate.

But what if these passive candidates aren’t visiting job boards every now and again?

How Else Might They See a Job Post?

  • They might be scrolling one of their social media feeds.
  • They might get an email or an Inmail.
  • They might get referred to it by someone else.
  • They might have clicked a link to a job posting at the end of an article or blog.
  • They might even have learned about the job from a phone call.

But, they will only read that job posting if something has made them want to read it. If something has caught their eye (like an attractive headline or opening sentence) that encourages them to keep reading.

The easiest way to get someone to read your job posting is to make the first 150 words exclusively about them. Or if it’s an email or Inmail, the first 60-70 words. Or if it’s a phone call, the opening 30 seconds.

In other words, you give them reasons why your job might be better than the one they’re doing or the others they’re applying for.

Only needing one candidate can cause Hiring Managers, HR, TA and Recruiters to go in one of two directions. One’s about improving the odds and the other’s about hoping to get lucky.

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