First, there is the longstanding challenge of finding and attracting the right talent. And, contrary to what you may expect, a large number of job applicants doesn’t mean an easier recruitment process. If anything, screening and identifying the candidates that meet specific job criteria takes more work than it used to.
Then, there’s the challenge of timing. Highly-qualified candidates are identified and hired very quickly – by peers or competitors, if you’re not careful!
Finally, reduced and uncertain budgets often force TA professionals to explore more creative and cost-effective ways to source the most qualified talent.
This guide covers 10 best practices to help you attract, capture, and retain more qualified candidates.
1. Use enticing, accurate, and meaningful titles
When a candidate is looking for a job, they usually search by job title. These have a major influence on how your job posting is ranked, but even more on how it is understood and which candidates apply.
Be clear and concise when creating job titles and avoid stuffing too many keywords. It can be helpful to call out certain niche skills (for example, emergency room nurse). Also, try to avoid abbreviations as much as you can. For example, say “business development representative,” instead of “BDR.”
It’s also important to make your job title attractive – no one likes boring copy! Offering great compensation? Best-in-class employment benefits? An amazing work culture? Remote work opportunities? Briefly highlight why your organization is the best place to be for a certain role and how you are different.
And it can never hurt to do a bit of competitive research. Take some time to see how your competitors are listing open positions. Also, run a quick search on a few major job boards to view the top results for a particular job position.
Job title optimization is another great way to optimize your campaigns, achieving greater reach and increasing traffic, while decreasing CPA.
Job title optimization leverages alternative job titles, using commonly searched terms. These are published as new listings in addition to the original post. Below is a real-world examples of five top-performing job titles used to drive the highest return on ad spend and lowest CPAs:
Original: Customer Service Representative
- Remote Customer Service
- Work from Home Customer Service
- Customer Service Representative – Bilingual
- Call-Center-Agent (m/w/d)
- Bank Customer Service Representative
When it came to recruiting CSRs, jobs using all of the five title optimizations listed above delivered more than seven times the clicks and boasted an impressive nine fold increase in number of applications, on average. This is an invaluable tool for any organization.
2. Ensure well-written, accurate job descriptions
Job descriptions, when done well, can go a really long way in attracting the most relevant talent for your open positions.
Conversely, badly written job descriptions (and there are so many out there!) can invite a large volume of subpar candidates, resulting in lower recruiter productivity. Bad or confusing job descriptions also make it very difficult to screen or score applicants. And nearly impossible to filter and prioritize them for the subsequent stages of your hiring process.
So, what makes a good job description? First off, it must be tailored.
Many companies rely on templatized job descriptions that have been posted by their peers hundreds of times. As a result, far too often, not-so-similar openings end up with very similar descriptions. The best way around this is to create an extensive range of job description templates. While some of these sections can be templatized, the rest should be created for that specific job position – ideally by the hiring manager or someone who has a good idea of the exact functional (and other) requirements of the job.
It is also important to differentiate between the skills and responsibilities that are truly “must haves” and those which are “nice to have.” These “must haves” may vary based on job type – for example, for some jobs, it might be essential to mention details such as number of work hours expected, salary per hour, timings/shifts, and work location.
3. Give bias the boot
Recruiters often (inadvertently) introduce subconscious bias or discriminatory requirements (gender, culture, race, etc.) in their job descriptions. To be clear, in most cases, this is due to the way they’ve been trained over the years – not due to any inherent bias. Still, a biased job description greatly limits the number of applicants.
Flawlessly written, bias-free job postings have the power to attract and engage a large number of highly qualified job seekers – even passive candidates that require a little more persuasion to activate.
Recruitment technology providers have been trying to solve this problem for years and a few have been quite successful. For example, Get-optimal.com has built a gender decoding tool that automatically removes any trace of gender bias in your job descriptions.
4. Target with programmatic
If you have already checked all the boxes above, the next step is to decide where your job ad will be shown. Posting on random job boards, manually assigning budgets (bids), and using intuition (instead of data) to make recruitment advertising decisions, can result in subpar performance, high cost per hire, and poor applicant quality.
Partnering with a programmatic job advertising platform solves all these problems.
Programmatic eliminates guesswork and inefficiencies inherent in traditional (manual) job advertising. It leverages your data to select the best job sites and channels to post your ad, and automatically assign bids. This means significantly more qualified candidates, which are more likely to convert to hires. A machine learning platform also constantly learns and improves itself based on your hiring outcomes, creating an intelligence loop. Get those robots to do your work and take a longer lunch!
5. Get social
In addition to posting recruitment ads on job boards, explore search engine marketing and social media advertising options. Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other media, allow you to access those passive job seekers we’re all looking for in a very sophisticated manner.
For example, you can target job seekers on Facebook based on their demographics, interests, or behavior. You can also create an affinity audience on Google to reach people based on their lifestyles, passions, and habits. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
6. Track to hire
A large number of employers stop tracking their talent sourcing process at the application stage.
However, tracking to hire provides you with the insights you need, to evaluate (and improve!) your hiring processes and outcomes for each applicant source – against your initial goals or assumptions.
If you track to hire, you have the ability to track the probability, effectiveness, and costs of all candidate sourcing channels (job boards, your own career site, search advertising, social media, etc.) and allocate your budgets in a manner that delivers the most qualified applicants, that are most likely to convert to hires.
7. Downsize that application
If you have an extremely complex and time-consuming application process, it is going to be a nightmare to retain qualified applicants in the hiring funnel.
Highly-qualified candidates receive a lot of job ads and offers, which means the candidate experience you deliver can make or break their decision to complete your application.
Make sure your job application process has a small number of mandatory questions, asking only for relevant, must-have information. Also, ensure it has a great mobile user experience. Try to avoid sign ups as much as possible (or have a really easy way to sign up).
8. Engage your talent community
Sometimes, your most qualified applicants are right under your nose – and they may have been there for a long time!
Your candidate database may be home to several applicants who may not have been hired earlier, but could be extremely relevant for a current job opening. You could potentially reach these candidates for zero or very little cost, using email or retargeting.
9. Encourage employee referrals
This is a runaway hit among large enterprises and startups alike, and for good reason. Your employees are the best examples of the kind of talent you want to hire.
When your employees refer candidates, they, in a sense, pre-vet them. These candidates are also likely to be great cultural fits within your organization. As a result, applications received via employee referrals tend to be of higher quality than those acquired through other channels. When implemented at scale, this channel can significantly improve your time-to-hire and cost-per-hire metrics.
10. Bolster your employer brand
Nothing beats a strong, authentic employer brand when it comes to attracting qualified candidates organically. The word “authentic” is key. To attract the right talent for your organization, it’s vital to communicate who you are and what you stand for, as an employer.
Of course, it takes time and resources to build and grow brand credibility, which is why it is all the more important to ensure you keep at it continuously and consistently.
Perhaps, the fastest (and least resource-intensive) way to get started is by activating your social media channels. Not only will this help you increase brand awareness and recall, you can also use your social channels to nurture relationships with potential candidates.
While LinkedIn is an obvious choice here, remember that Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are also highly-effective options – each giving you access to diverse audiences.