The Ultimate Guide to Recruitment Advertising

What is Recruitment Advertising? Why is it Important Today?

Recruitment advertising is the practice of using job postings to attract, engage, and hire talent. This includes advertising strategies, processes, and technologies used to decide how to distribute adverts across multiple channels. For recruiters and talent acquisition (TA) professionals, the goal is to reach the right person at the right time, creating a candidate pipeline that can be quickly and easily converted.

There are numerous reasons why recruitment advertising plays a critical role in today’s job market.

1. The search requires more nuance:

The market for talent has been flipped on its head. The recruitment challenge is not about a lack of available talent, it’s about finding and attracting the top talent, that is the right fit. Recruitment advertising enables talent hunters to target very specific candidates, whether they are active or passive. (Passive candidates are defined as those not actively searching, but open to opportunities.)


2. Recruitment needs to be proactive:

When employers are searching for high-quality candidates, the search should not be based simply on availability. In fact, the recruitment model is gradually moving from a “pull model” to a “push model.” And, using the right data, TA experts can build a database of both active and passive candidates. Employers who adopt a push model and take advantage of leading-edge, creative recruitment approaches will be best positioned to find their ideal candidate and build their employment brand.

3. Employer brand is critical:

A job is no longer transactional. Employees of this generation want to feel connected to their company’s mission and ethos. Hence, it is increasingly important for brands to build, maintain and improve their presence in the market. Recruitment advertising helps leverage the right content, at the right place, with the right messaging.

Done right, recruitment advertising helps improve the entire process, from the candidate experience to brand image.

Let’s Talk Benefits

Here are the top five benefits recruiters can expect when switching to recruitment advertising:

1. Cast a wider net:

It’s time to move beyond the limitations of location, partner, channel, or network. Traditionally, employers tended to have individual contracts with a handful of vendors to advertise job openings, including agencies, job boards, recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) providers, etc. This automatically filters out potential candidates who aren’t accessible via these channels. Moreover, this “spray-and-pray” approach did not provide control over the number or quality of applicants. Recruitment advertising goes beyond traditional channels, creating a more predictable pipeline of relevant candidates – including passive jobseekers.

2. Improve candidate quality:

Because recruitment advertising targets best-fit candidates across platforms, TA professionals will see improvement in the quality of applicants and time to hire. In particular, passive candidates (comprising ~70% of the global workforce) may only need a gentle nudge to consider new opportunities. (Millennials, in particular, have an average job cycle of about two years.) Recruitment advertising may just provide the right nudge, at the right time, to the right candidate!

Construction Workers Wearing Protective Kits

3. Diversify the workforce:

Recruitment advertising can target specific candidate personas, helping organizations proactively build a more inclusive workforce. Personas focus on a variety of factors such as age and education, as well as aspects of DE&I such as ethnicity and gender.

4. Give candidates a superior experience:

Recruitment advertising provides highly-personalized content for target candidates at each stage of the process. From pre-applicant to the hiring stage, messages can be customized at every touchpoint based on who is targeted and where they are seeing the message. This process places candidate experience front and center.

5. Reduce hiring costs:

With traditional recruitment practices, results are unpredictable, and recruiters have little control over spending. Even worse, it is impossible to track where money was wasted. Recruitment advertising provides far greater visibility, allowing TA professionals to see which channels yielded the best results. This helps prioritize recruitment budgets and minimize waste. It also saves time and money, populating and nurturing a rich, promising database of future candidates.

Processes and Planning

There is no specific one-size-fits-all formula. One of the best things about recruitment advertising is defining success based on your unique goals. However, there are four general steps that can help you.

Recruitment Advertising Process Explained

Step 1: Define your advertising goals:

Think about what you want to achieve in measurable terms. Sure, excellent candidate quality is a given, but what’s your budget to achieve it? Is diversity a factor? If yes, you’ll need to set it as a mandatory rule. Common goals include:

  • Find x more qualified candidates
  • Reduce cost per hire by $x
  • Boost impressions by x%
  • Fill a vacancy in x days
  • Get x more applications per ad

Step 2: Allocate your resources:

Once you’ve defined your goals and outlined your candidate persona, it’s time to allocate resources. How you distribute your resources is an essential step to maximizing your return on investment (ROI). Bottom-funnel metrics, such as cost per application and cost per hire, are more valuable than vanity metrics, such as cost per click.

Step 3: Describe your candidate persona:

Who would your ideal candidate be? (The more detailed, the better.) Look beyond typical job requirements such as experience, education, and skills. Focus on getting a deeper feel of the person you’d like to hire. What are their interests outside work? What motivates and inspires them? A few criteria to consider are current job, geographical location, key skills, hobbies and interests, likes and dislikes, motivations and aspirations, brands they follow, intellectual inclination (creative/analytical), age, and so forth.

Step 4: Track your progress:

No plan is complete unless you analyze performance. This is where data plays a critical role. Since your goals are unique to you, success can’t be measured against industry standards. To measure success, you need to develop a baseline of key metrics and data. You can then track progress against these metrics to accurately analyze performance.

Channels and Media

Channel Options

Sourcing talent is the first step. While it’s important to keep filling the top of the recruitment funnel, it’s even more critical to ensure quality.

Recruiters are overwhelmed with sourcing channels. The challenge is determining where to find top talent. The goal is to intelligently distribute your sourcing efforts across multiple channels to bring in a large and diverse pool of talent. Choosing a sourcing channel depends on many factors. These include budget, type of role, the urgency to fill, and volume/frequency of hiring.

Here’s a comprehensive guide to sourcing channels:

Various Recruitment Advertising Channels

Online job sites:

An obvious choice. This is the first place everyone starts looking when filling a vacancy. Sixty percent of job seekers begin their job hunt here. It’s a no-brainer that employers need to establish a strong presence – both organic and paid – on top job boards like Indeed, Monster, and Glassdoor. However, one of the common concerns with this channel is that it attracts an inconveniently large volume of applicants, many of whom are poor quality or not relevant. This problem can be partially addressed by posting your jobs on niche, industry-specific job boards such as for nurse practitioners, GitHub for IT professionals, and for technology specialists. These job boards tend to attract more relevant candidates (albeit fewer) at a lower cost.

A common challenge for recruiters is the hassle of managing numerous job boards. Posting jobs, tracking applications, evaluating performance, reporting, etc., across multiple platforms can be a painful process. So, unless you have a large team to bear the load, you may be better off relying on just a few high-performing job boards.

Job Boards

Online search platforms:

Online search engines can be a powerful way to reach a wider audience, organically. The number of job-related searches performed on Google each month in the U.S. alone is somewhere between 50 and 150 million. Google for Jobs aggregates and organizes postings from job boards and career sites and displays them prominently in its search results. This feature also enables candidates to search using a range of options and filters. Consequently, Google delivers significantly higher conversion rates than other channels for certain types of jobs.

Employers cannot, however, post directly – Google for Jobs is only an aggregator. They must be posted on individual job boards. Alternatively, employers can implement HTML code modifications on their career sites so their job postings show up on Google.

Social media platforms:

Social media talent acquisition, using channels like LinkedIn and Facebook, is attractive yet underutilized for reaching active and passive job seekers. Both offer extensive targeting capabilities based on job history, interests, and demographic factors – factors which help identify ideal candidates based on your personas.

LinkedIn dominates online professional networks and boasts over half a billion members. Whether it’s through job listings (free or paid), trusted referrals, or elicited network recommendations, LinkedIn helps you land high-quality candidates – even senior positions, such as vice presidents and directors.

Facebook targets a broader range of potential employees. This includes segments such as recent college graduates, which you may not find as easily on LinkedIn.

World Wide Web:

Google display advertising is another excellent channel for reaching passive job seekers. Job advertisements are posted on websites, apps, and other online platforms, capable of reaching over 90% of Internet users, employing powerful targeting and retargeting capabilities.

Programmatic job advertising:

Programmatic job advertising leverages a rules-based, machine learning-driven approach to buying recruitment media. In other words, your job advertising spend is spread (without bias) across top-performing online sourcing channels – job boards, social platforms, search platforms, etc. As a result, you are able to attract highly-relevant, qualified candidates quickly, while minimizing your cost per hire and cost per applicant. Finally, programmatic advertising eliminates the need to buy media individually (requiring multiple contracts) for multiple sourcing channels, and also offers access to highly-targeted and effective sourcing sites.

Programmatic Job Advertising Platform - MOJO

Candidate re-engagement:

Re-engaging candidates is a missed opportunity for many companies – even though it helps build a more robust talent community and employer brand. Use your existing application tracking system (ATS) database to find a match for new job openings. Rediscovered candidates can be targeted with push ads (display ads) or e-mail campaigns. Along similar lines, ex-employees, too, may be retargeted (boomerang candidates). This is also applicable for individuals who dropped off during the application process.

Starting with a candidate that has already been deemed fit to work for your company increases efficiency, fast-tracking the entire hiring process, while cutting recruitment costs.

Career page:

Establishing a career page on your website is a critical (and practically free) first step to improve employer branding and recruitment. This is an excellent pull (rather than push) approach, as visitors already have interest in your organization. Career pages also offer the opportunity to share organizational values, culture, and benefits. Beware though, career pages will receive a large volume of poorly qualified job seekers. This channel will, however, lend credibility to your business and help you maintain a strong, low-cost talent pipeline.

Offline channels:

While trade journals/newspapers are declining in relevance, this channel still enables access to a sizable portion of candidates. For instance, what started as “Help Wanted” ads in the classifieds sections of newspapers is still relevant for profiles such as plumbing, mining, gardening/landscaping, and heavy machine operations. Ads for such positions may also see a more relevant audience in specific industry/trade publications.

Given the abundance of sourcing channels, it’s no wonder that TA professionals have problems identifying the most suitable sources! The ideal approach is to leverage technologies to automate the process and adopt an agnostic approach to selecting channels.

Media Options

Once you have identified the relevant channels, it’s time to consider the type of recruitment ads to purchase. Ad choice primarily depends on hiring volume, budgets, and job types.

With a wide variety of recruitment advertising media at your disposal, the idea of selecting a few can be overwhelming. To complicate matters, each is structured at different cadences, price points, and returns. Here’s a list of the more popular purchase options.

Types of Recruitment Advertising Media

Duration-based posts:

These posts run for a fixed duration of time (usually 30 days), for a fixed price. The longer the period and the higher the number of ads you decide to buy in a month, the more you pay. While most job boards offer broad exposure at a relatively low cost, there is a real threat of receiving an abundance of irrelevant applications – particularly from candidates applying in bulk to multiple postings. Further, they do not allow for much customization. If the position is filled before the duration of the job ad, the remaining cost is wasted.

Slot-based posts:

Here, advertisers purchase a specific number of advertising spaces, at a fixed price, from one or more publishers. It’s like renting digital real estate. Though the cost per job slot tends to be higher than the cost of a duration-based posting, you may run any number of job ads throughout your purchase. The drawback is that you can only run one job ad at a time, per slot. While undeniably more cost-effective than duration-based attempts (that must run their course of time), slot-based posts are still a long way from offering the flexibility of performance-based pricing.

Cost per click (CPC):

Also called pay per click, advertisers pay a fixed price for every click on their job ad. Alternatively, TA professionals can set a daily or monthly budget that translates into a definite number of clicks. This is a step in the direction of performance-based pricing (though the merit of counting a mere click as performance is arguable). Since you only pay per click, the publisher is responsible for prominently displaying your ad. The most crucial drawback of this approach is the inability to account for – or do anything about – irrelevant clicks.

Cost per apply (CPA):

An improvement over CPC, CPA allows advertisers to pay every time a candidate submits a complete application through a job ad. This valuable metric helps advertisers analyze how much they have to spend to acquire a candidate. CPA offers a vastly better ROI, while allowing recruiters to better align their ad spend with their goals (candidate quality, time to hire, or cost). CPA has revolutionized recruitment advertising, allowing TA professionals to gain much-needed control over spending, significantly reducing their overall cost per hire (CPH).

Cost per quality applicant (CPQA):

In this model, job advertisers pay every time they acquire a qualified applicant who meets pre-defined screening criteria. Since the definition of a “qualified” candidate is up to the employer, this approach affords an easy way to acquire a high-quality candidate pool, making for a much faster time to hire.

Cost per hire (CPH):

As it sounds, advertisers pay for every new employee they acquire. This is, arguably, the most effective way to analyze recruiting efficiency. While this approach undoubtedly allows maximum spend control, it can encourage an unhealthy focus on cost – perhaps impacting quality.

Important Metrics to Track

As Peter Drucker said, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

The world of job advertising can be a bit chaotic. Recruiters are learning as they go, testing theories, relying on intuition to make decisions, and validating hunches. Sometimes, it’s hard to even know what questions to ask, let alone finding the right answers.

Introducing metrics makes this process much more scientific and data-driven, as opposed to so many of the “spray-and-pray” approaches that are still followed today. For instance, advertising on job boards or using social media talent acquisition based purely on a platform’s popularity, with little regard for the type of target audience or their preferred platforms.

Looking at the right job advertising metrics can help you figure out what’s working in your process and what isn’t, so you can make better (and more informed) decisions.

We’ve put together a list of the top advertising metrics every marketer or talent acquisition leader should be tracking throughout the recruiting process.

What are you spending or planning to spend on your job ads?

  • Budget: The total amount of money allocated for job advertising efforts.
  • Spend: The total amount of money spent on job advertising overall, or specifically, on a job, job group, campaign, or source.

Are enough high-quality candidates seeing your job ads?

  • Impressions: The number of job seekers that have been exposed to your job ads.
  • Reach: The number of potential candidates that will be exposed to your job ads through a particular job board or publisher.

Are high-quality candidates interested in your jobs?

  • Clicks: All the clicks received on your job ads – segmented by jobs, job groups, campaigns, or sources.
  • Click through rate (CTR): The rate at which job seekers engage with (click on) your ads on a job board, search engine results page, or social media.
  • Cost per click (CPC): The amount you pay for every (candidate) click on your ad.

Is your job application process delivering a great candidate experience?

  • Total applicants/applications: All the job applicants/applications received in your ATS (applicant tracking system) – segmented by jobs, job groups, campaigns, or sources.
  • Total application starts: The number of times job seekers have started applying for your jobs – also segmented by jobs, job groups, campaigns, or sources.
  • Application completion rate: The ratio of completed applications submitted for consideration, to the total number of candidates that start that application.
  • Click to apply (CTA) conversion rate: The ratio of the number of applicants to the number of clicks via job advertising.
  • Average apply time: The time it takes a job seeker, on average, to complete your job application.
  • Cost per applicant (CPA): The average amount of money spent on recruitment advertising to get one job application (or applicant).

Are you meeting your hiring goals?

  • Total hires: The total number of candidates hired for a job or job group, or through a campaign or source.
  • Applicants to hire (ATH): The average number of applications considered to make one hire.
  • Time to hire (TTH): The average time it takes for an applicant to progress from applying for a job to accepting an offer.
  • Cost per hire (CPH): The average amount of money spent on job advertising to make one hire.

The right set of metrics help create an effective, cost-efficient, transparent, and predictable recruitment funnel that consistently delivers high-quality hires, swiftly and within your budget. Read more about the metrics outlined above.

Tools for Success

Talent sourcing is a true rat race – you can’t afford to get complacent. And, recruitment advertising technologies are ever-evolving. So, weeding out the “must-haves” from the “nice-to-haves” is essential.

Here are six of the best recruitment advertising technologies available:

1. Job description optimization technologies:

We’re all guilty of it. When posting a job ad, we quickly look up similar postings and replicate one that best suits the current opportunity. In case of a recurring requirement, we may even recycle an old ad. While this is a perfectly harmless hack, recruiters often forget to check if job descriptions are entirely free of bias – racial, gender-related, cultural, religious, or otherwise.

Inadvertently biased job descriptions can alienate high-quality candidates. A ZipRecruiter study found that gender-neutral job listings attract up to 42% more responses than their biased counterparts! In other words, recruiters must ensure that job descriptions are wholly inclusive and unbiased to attract a diverse pool of relevant, high-quality talent. Get-Optimal, TalVista, and Textio are great technologies to help achieve this.

2. Programmatic job advertising platforms:

Programmatic job advertising is the practice of applying a machine learning-driven, rules-based approach to purchasing media for job ads. Essentially, it automates the process of distributing your recruitment media spend, prioritizing top-performing job boards and other online publishers. Only the sources that attract the most relevant, high-quality candidates and produce the best results (whether applies or hires), at the most optimal cost, are kept in the mix. A data-driven, infinite loop of learning and improvement is a vital feature of this approach. Programmatic job advertising eliminates the need to buy media separately from multiple publishers. It also makes it possible to use niche job sites that recruiters may not even know about.

3. Click-to-apply conversion optimization:

Once you’ve optimized your job descriptions and targeted the most relevant job seekers at the right place and cost, you’d think you’re done. But why aren’t all those clicks translating into applications? Because the job-seeker’s experience is broken.

Most job application processes today are woefully lacking. Glassdoor has found that the standard candidate drop-off rate in an application process is 80%! Luckily, conversion optimization technology can help increase your click-to-apply (conversion) rates by delivering a superior candidate experience, including:

  • Simplified and optimized applications for all device types and sizes
  • Improved information gathering
  • Reduced signups and logins
  • Limited mandatory questions
  • Decreased external navigation

Conversion optimization can also help reengage job seekers that dropped off during an application using email, social, and selective advertising. Finally, it can support applications for multiple jobs, which increases the probability of a candidate applying to their best-fit role. Conversion optimization helps you achieve a significantly higher ROI from existing candidate sources.

4. Chatbots:

AI-powered chatbots enhance the candidate experience (improving conversion rates!) by addressing frequently asked questions, gathering information, screening candidates, scheduling interviews, and more, while keeping job-seekers engaged through the application process. This frees up TA leaders and recruiters to focus on higher-value functions like interviewing and shortlisting candidates. Companies like XOR and AllyO provide AI-powered recruitment chatbots.



5. Applicant tracking system (ATS):

ATS software centralizes the applicant management process, gathering, organizing, analyzing, and ranking all job applications received for open positions. An ATS that’s well-integrated with recruitment advertising technologies can help build and nurture robust talent pipelines and accelerate the time to fill open positions.

6. Candidate relationship management (CRM):

In today’s candidate-first recruitment market, TA professionals need to effectively engage candidates and enhance their experience throughout the recruitment process. CRM software helps engage, nurture, and manage candidates, building a talent pool that’s readily available. A great CRM captures all relevant information and helps recruiters make detailed candidate profiles – critical to running successful ad campaigns. The data gathered by CRMs can also be leveraged to craft highly-personalized communication, leading to faster conversion rates. Finally, CRM makes it possible to re-engage candidates – another way to quickly fill open positions.

Best Practices

Before you launch your recruitment ad campaign, here are some best practices to keep in mind.

1. Opt for a multichannel approach:

You need an assortment of job boards, niche industry sites, social media, employee referrals, and anything else you can get your hands on to be able to find your perfect candidate. This is by no means a manual task.

2. Measure often:

Track results throughout the process – not just when the campaign is finished. That way, you know early on whether or not something is working.

3. Measure right:

Remember that your goals are not set in stone. If you realize something isn’t going according to plan, don’t be afraid to change your approach. Your metrics should work for you, not the other way around. Don’t waste time measuring things that aren’t relevant to your recruiting process.

4. Optimize your application process:

This means that applying should be as simple as possible (no more than a couple of clicks) and mobile-optimized. Most job seekers nowadays apply via their phones, so don’t risk putting them off by making it hard or impossible.

5. Get the job posting correct:

Ensure that your job titles are appealing, accurate, and relevant. A majority of searches are conducted by job title. Thus, titles significantly impact the ranking of your posting and how it is perceived by candidates. Focus on highlighting niche skills, avoid abbreviations, and remember to highlight things that matter to candidates, such as flexible work schedules, employment benefits, and so on.

6. Focus on the job description:

Invest effort in drafting well-written job descriptions tailored to each position. Avoid generic content. Also, remember to stick to the skills that are genuine must-haves. Overly long job descriptions can put off job seekers, resulting in lower conversions.

7. Eliminate bias:

Most job descriptions inadvertently introduce bias, mainly in the form of discriminatory requirements. This will limit the number of applicants who respond and may affect how individuals perceive your organization. On the other hand, bias-free job descriptions can attract and engage even passive candidates.

8. Track to hire:

Many employers stop tracking at the application stage. However, in order to improve hiring processes and outcomes, data collection must continue throughout the hiring process. This allows analysis of source-specific recruitment marketing performance – your career site, job boards, social media, search advertising, etc. Thus, allowing for intelligent prioritization of budgets for channels that deliver the most promising results.


To learn about Joveo’s award-winning programmatic job advertising platform, request a demo!

About Joveo

Joveo, the global leader in programmatic job advertising, is changing the way talent acquisition teams manage their process across the entire talent acquisition process to improve efficiency and cost.

The Joveo platform enables businesses to attract, source, engage and hire the most relevant applicants on time, within their budget. Powering more than 20 million jobs every day, Joveo’s data-driven recruitment advertising platform uses advanced data science and machine learning to dynamically manage and optimize talent sourcing and applications across all online channels while providing real-time insights at every step of the job seeker journey from click to hire.