In a tight hiring market, it’s essential that companies and recruiters provide candidates with a positive experience. If the hiring process is smooth and efficient, candidates are more likely to accept a job offer and recommend the company to their peers. 

But when does the candidate experience begin? For many applicants, it’s when they read the job advertisement. There and then, candidates form a strong first impression of the company that will influence their decision about whether to apply for the position. 

To discover more about how candidates, react to job ads, we surveyed 7260 applicants in Europe, of which 235 in the Netherlands, to discover more about the pivotal role job advertisements play in the candidate experience. 

1. Location and contract type are key elements 

We asked candidates what they found the three most important criteria that they look for in job adds. One criteria stood out: location. Almost six in 10 (58%) of those polled said job location is one of the key pieces of data in any job posting, followed by job title (47%) and salary (44%). 

Other pieces of information that candidates focus on include: 

  • Contract type (37%) 

  • Seniority of the position (26%) 

  • Possibility of remote working and publication date (15%)  

2. Candidates like to read! 

In this busy world, it may surprise you to learn that 62% of candidates in our survey said they read the whole job advertisement. Another 32% said they read 80-90% of the content.   

Since applicants' value reading such a large part of the job advertisement text, accessibility is important. Most participants (40%) use both desktops and mobile devices when they are reading a job add. Moreover, 26% of the respondents even uses mobile devices as main device to read job descriptions on. Many people apply later via desktop (70%), but we have to start focusing more the ease of how to apply via a mobile device since more and more job advertisements are red this way. 

3. Form can be as important as content 

Some recruiters are experimenting with original and creative formats for job ads. And although most candidates prefer having subgroups in different styles (51%), candidates still long for a clear and professional presentation (49%) which should still be short and concise. So, keep this in mind when creating your next job add. 

4. Candidates want more information about the company and the job 

Sometimes, candidates notice what isn’t included in job advertisements as much as what is. For example, almost nine in 10 (88%) of respondents think that job ads should include information about company culture.  A similar proportion (87%) like to see a salary range, while 69% say there are interested in learning more about the organisation’s benefits and perks.  

5. Mistakes or inconsistencies in the job scare candidates away 

Of course, not all candidates who read a job ad apply for the position. So, what are the factors that lead them to reject the opportunity?  

For our survey respondents, the most important filter is qualifications. More than half (53%) says they don’t apply for a position if they feel over- or under-qualified for the role.  

A second important factor Is the location of the job, whether it's too far from home or even not specified. 

Other criteria include not liking the responsibilities of the job (40%), that it appears to be an outdated advertisement (39%), a mismatch in the salary/ benefits expectations – or not mentioning these - (39+20%) and a bad company reputation (36%). 

6. Some candidates use job ads for benchmarking 

Not all candidates read job advertisements because they’re interested in applying for the position. Some simply use the information to benchmark the salary and job description of the advertised role against their own terms of employment. However, only 19% of those surveyed say they use job ads to benchmark regularly (at least once a year), while 25% do it every 2-3 years.  

7. Make sure that the advertisement is in line with your brand story on other channels 

Even the most comprehensive job advertisement only tells the candidate a fraction of what they need to know about a company before applying for position. To determine whether they are a good fit for the position, the vast majority of candidates (97%) checks the company website. In addition, 55% reviews the organisation’s social media channels, while 66% use online reviews on sites like Glassdoor to help them make an assessment. Interestingly, there are also respondents (23%) who try to contact current or former employees to get more information on the company. 

Summary

In a tight hiring market, it’s essential that companies and recruiters provide candidates with a positive experience. If the hiring process is smooth and efficient, candidates are more likely to accept a job offer and recommend the company to their peers. 

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