Attracting and retaining staff is rarely easy, but when your vacancy is an obscure role that many people won’t immediately understand it can be even more challenging, so how can you ensure that you reach a wide and suitable audience?
On 17th October 2016, a quick search told me that NI Jobfinder were advertising a total of 4,277 jobs, and NI Jobs had a verified 323,157 individual jobseekers visiting their website per month. This gives an indication of the typical number of vacancies you are competing with and the number of individuals’ attention that you fighting for when you advertise a position.
In today’s competitive recruitment landscape, it is not enough to advertise a vacancy and expect the applications to come flooding in. Attracting the right candidate requires similar efforts to those used to attract new customers. So how can recruiters craft a job listing that stands out from the crowd?
1. Set a Recruitment Budget
When setting a budget for advertising the position, consider the urgency of getting the role filled, the cost of having to re-advertise should your initial methods be unsuccessful, and the cost and inconvenience of hiring the wrong person. In almost every business, the people are the backbone of the organisation, but many employers overlook the importance of the recruitment process. Ask yourself what it means to your business to source the perfect candidate. It generally pays in the long run to spend money on the best advertising platforms.
2. Maximise your Reach
Making the position easy to find is absolutely key to maximising your chances of finding the right candidate the first time around. Gone are the days of putting a poster up in your reception or advertising in your local paper (although contrary to what some might say, this does still work for some roles). It might cost more to advertise in high profile recruitment sites but they are generally the first port of call for any job hunter so will reach a large and attentive audience.
Of course if there is a skills gap within your industry, your audience may not be actively seeking employment so recruitment sites are unlikely to get results. In this case, you will need to be more creative with your recruitment methods. This might be a blog topic for another day…
Once you have uploaded the position to the recruitment site, if that is your chosen method, post links to the site on your own website and on your Social Media. Boosting social media posts by way of paid advertising can be very useful for reaching a large, targeted audience.
PRO TIP: Once you have selected your advertising platform(s) consider listing the job role under more than one category. Listing under multiple categories will help you to reach a larger audience. For example, if you are looking for a customer-facing Receptionist, you might consider listing under ‘Secretarial & Administration’ and ‘Customer Service & Call Centre’.
3. The Job Title
It is vital to make the job title clickable. A well thought out title will be the difference between your advert standing out and potential candidates skipping over it. Of course you may have a specific job title in mind but that doesn’t always have to be the title you use to advertise. For the purposes of attracting job hunters to your advert, you can always choose something more appealing or relatable.
Being too creative with the title can be just as detrimental as a bland title. For example, does anyone really know what a ‘Customer Experience Provider’ is? Simply advertising as a ‘Customer Service Advisor’ or ‘Sales Assistant’ can be more appropriate, and you can always revert to your in-house terminology at a later stage.
You might also consider adding “no experience necessary” in the job title, to attract those that might exclude the advert due to lack of experience or qualifications. Other title additions might include “immediate start” or “training provided”.
4. The Job Specification
It is no longer enough to present a job description or list of responsibilities. You should take the opportunity to sell the job and your Company to potential employees. A sensible format is as follows:
- The Company
- The Position
- Experience / Qualifications
- The Package
Nowadays job seekers are looking for more than just a job; the working conditions can be just as important as the role or the salary. Therefore, promoting your Company is an essential part of the job advert. For example, you might offer job security if you are a long-established business, you might mention your friendly working environment if you have a close-knit team, or you might demonstrate that you offer flexible working patterns to allow for work/life balance.
Emphasising the strengths of your Company becomes even more important when the job role itself isn’t very exciting, since a mundane job can seem appealing if the working conditions are favourable.
Start by outlining what is appealing about the position. Are you offering the chance for the applicant to learn unique skills? Is there the opportunity for career advancement? Does the role offer a high level of autonomy in decision-making?
This section should take the form of a list providing information about what the role entails. Unless it is a very complex or obscure role, keep the detail to a minimum. Finer details can be discussed at interview stage and further refined at the point of creating a contract of employment, once a suitable candidate has been found. This section could also include details like hours of work or who the position reports to.
Experience / Qualifications
It can be useful to divide this section into ‘essential’ and ‘desirable’ criteria. Starting with the essential criteria, list the minimum requirements. All applicants will have to meet all of these prerequisites. You can then enhance the criteria by adding other desirable criteria that will make candidates even more attractive. For example, if it is a sales role that you are recruiting, essential criteria will be previous sales experience but your desirable criteria might be experience within a similar industry.
This section also provides the opportunity to outline personal characteristics that are important to you. By referencing behaviours and attributes, you are setting expectations around the type of person that will be a good fit for your organisation. This might include traits such as high attention to detail or ability to work unsupervised. Be careful that these are not discriminatory or exclusive but are related to the person’s ability to do the job effectively.
This section should go over and above simply stating the remuneration. You should include any employee benefits that your Company offers. Do you offer a substantial employer contribution pension scheme or paid sick leave? Do you provide a mentoring scheme or on-the-job training? Do you offer flexible working patterns or regular overtime? Do you offer generous holiday entitlement or health insurance? Anything that will set your business apart from other recruiters should be included here, be it financial reward or other less tangible benefits.
One final point on the advert content is the tone. A job advert doesn’t have to be very corporate – it’s actually OK to inject a bit of personality! To persuade prospective employees to want to work for you, a down to earth approach can be more appealing than a very formal format.
5. The Application Process
Generally, it is advisable to make it as easy as possible for prospective employees to apply. Whilst this may not be appropriate for high level or specialist positions, where a more demanding application process will ensure that you receive interest from suitably qualified and experienced personnel, an arduous application process can be daunting.
For entry level, minimum wage or low skill positions an application form might be more appropriate than a CV, since those without a pre-existing CV or minimal employment history could be put off by the prospect of having to create one.
If IT skills are not relevant to the role, consider an on- and offline application process, to encourage those that may not be computer literate or for those that don’t have access to a PC or the Internet, to apply.
It is often perceived that, by having a thorough application process, ‘time-wasters’ will be deterred. Whilst this most likely is the case, it could also limit applications from suitable candidates. Generally, a certain percentage of applicants will be completely substandard but this is par for the course in recruitment and something that all employers will face from time to time. At the end of the day, having too many applications is preferable to getting none at all!
If you would like help with crafting an important job vacancy, why not give us a call?