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Survey: How to Improve Your Job Postings to Attract Better Candidates

Making the right hire starts with the job description. But according to an Indeed survey, 65% of employers have had to revise a job description after it was posted in the last year. This suggests that the majority of employers aren’t getting it right the first time.

To find out why, Indeed surveyed 250 employers and more than 2,000 job seekers. Employers shared their biggest struggles when it comes to job descriptions and job seekers shared exactly what they’re looking for when reading a job posting.

So if you’ve posted a job description but it’s not attracting the right applicants, here’s how to get better results — whether you’re receiving too many unqualified candidates, not enough candidates or candidates who aren’t a good culture add.

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If your job description is bringing in too many unqualified candidates

According to our survey, the #1 hiring challenge for the majority of employers (62%) is getting too many applications from unqualified candidates. Our survey suggests that this hiring challenge may stem from ineffective job descriptions.

In fact, almost half (42%) of the employers we surveyed say they had to revise a job description after they posted it because they were receiving too many unqualified candidates. A further 25% of employers revised a job description because none of the candidates were qualified.

Here are three strategies to help you edit your job posting so that it attracts the right candidates.

Add a must-have list of requirements

If you’re receiving more job applicants than you can adequately review, your job description may be misleading applicants about who you’re really looking for. Consider creating a must-have list stating the minimum qualifications required for the role. Another way to limit the amount of unqualified applicants is by including a statement that says candidates should apply only if they meet your requirements.

Ask an employee in a similar role for help

Only about 8% of survey respondents say they currently ask employees in similar roles to the job being posted for help writing job descriptions. However, getting employees in a similar position or department involved can help you create a more accurate set of hiring criteria. Employees tend to know exactly what skills are necessary for someone to do well in the role and on the team.

List a specific salary or salary range

Salary is often one of the first things job seekers look for in a job description. In fact, almost one out of every four job seekers we surveyed said that compensation is the most important part of a job description. Consider including compensation details or a salary band for the role to attract qualified candidates whose salary expectations match the job offer.

Almost 1 in 4 job seekers say that compensation is the most important part of a job description

Highlight any special requirements

Upfront details about what will be expected of potential employees can help candidates make informed decisions before they apply. For example, if they’ll be required to work nights and weekends, travel frequently or make 50 cold calls per day, include this information in your job description so potential applicants have a full understanding of the role.

Require a code word

Try asking applicants to include a code word in their cover letter or do something extra to help you filter applications. For example, you might say, “If you really want to impress us, include the word ‘[insert word]’ in the first sentence of your cover letter.” Alternatively, ask applicants to include a few sentences about their most recent project or define a certain job-related term in their cover letter to ensure they’ve read the entire job description. You can then weed out job applicant materials that fail to address this prompt.

Use screener questions

When candidates apply to your job on Indeed, you can ask questions about their qualifications during the application process (e.g., do you have a Bachelor’s degree?). You can then choose to automatically decline applicants who answer “no” to certain questions you consider to be deal-breakers.

If your job description isn’t bringing in enough candidates

Our survey found that nearly half (45%) of employers say their greatest hiring challenge is not receiving enough applicants. In fact, 21% of employers have had to revise a job description after it was posted because they weren’t receiving enough candidates.

Here’s how to revise your job description so it attracts more qualified candidates:

Include more relevant keywords

Think about the keywords and phrases your ideal candidates use to search for a job, then create a job description that incorporates those terms. For example, specific job titles like “Customer Service Representative” and “Senior Software Engineer” are more effective than titles people are less likely to look for, such as “Customer Service Ninja” or “Software Engineer VI.”

In fact, our survey found that 36% of people that use job sites search for a job using the title of the job they’re looking for.

36% of job seekers search by job title

What’s in it for the candidate?

Go beyond job responsibilities and requirements and include things that will appeal to job seekers. Some examples include the unique benefits/perks you offer, the impact the position will have on the company and career advancement opportunities.

Make sure your language is inclusive

Research shows that the language you use in your job description might be turning off diverse candidates. Certain words are subtly coded as masculine (e.g., ambitious, driven, competitive) and some are subtly coded as feminine (e.g., supportive, warm, compassionate). Getting rid of these gendered keywords can increase the number of applicants by 42%.

Try using a gender decoder tool to help you reword your job descriptions so you aren’t subconsciously discouraging certain candidates, particularly women, from applying.

Improve formatting

According to our survey, 52% of job seekers say the quality of a job description (e.g. spelling, grammar, role description, formatting) is “very” or “extremely influential” on their decision to apply for a job. Make sure the format of your job description is easy to read and mobile-friendly. Use headings to break up sections, organize information into bullet points and proofread for spelling, grammar and punctuation.

52% of job seekers say the quality of a job description is very or extremely influential on their decision to apply

Shorten your list of requirements

Very high or unrealistic expectations can prevent people from applying (e.g., entry-level roles that require three years of experience, below-market compensation, skill sets that are too specific). Browse similar job postings, talk to others in your industry and ask employees in similar roles to find out where you can be more flexible.

If there’s some flexibility on qualifications, consider splitting the requirements of the role into must-haves versus nice-to-haves to attract a wider range of candidates. Stick to 5-10 bullet points of requirements, if possible — especially since job seekers in our survey most commonly stated that they spend only 3-5 minutes reading a job description before deciding whether to apply.

You can also try softening the language by saying “familiar with,” “basic knowledge of” or “some previous experience in” to attract more applicants.

Sponsor your job on Indeed

If you’re not receiving enough applications, your job post may need more visibility. Sponsoring your job on Indeed can give your job better visibility in relevant search results. That means your job post will appear more often to the kind of candidates you’re looking for. In fact, our data shows that employers are 4.5x more likely to make a hire when they sponsor a job on Indeed.*

If your job description is attracting candidates who aren’t a good culture add

According to our survey, 10% of employers say they had to edit a job description after it was posted because the candidates they were receiving weren’t a good culture add. Many employers tend to wait until the interview stage to evaluate whether someone will be a great addition to their company culture. However, conveying your company culture in your job descriptions can be an effective way to attract the right people from the start.

Here are a few ways to bring in candidates who will be a great addition to your team:

Include a summary of your company culture

Our survey found that job details aren’t the only thing job seekers want to learn. In fact, 71% of job seekers say it’s “very” or “extremely important” to see details about company culture in a job description. Summarizing your company culture in your job description can be a great way for candidates to get an idea of what your company cares about and help attract people with similar values. Within your company culture summary, consider including:

72% of job seekers say it's extremely or very important to see details about company culture

Highlight the top benefits and perks you offer

Beyond the standard benefits for full-time roles, what else do you offer employees? Share 5-10 of your top benefits and perks to help candidates get a feel for your company culture. Check out these unique benefits and perks that can get candidates excited about your open role.

Use language that reflects your company culture

To attract candidates who are a good culture add, it’s important to use the right keywords and phrases that describe your company and what it values (e.g., innovative, flexible, rewarding, autonomous).

Less formal companies might also choose to be more playful with the language they use (e.g., hashtags, emojis), while those hiring a formal employee base may want to use a more professional tone to attract their ideal candidates.

Related: 4 Examples of Great Job Postings

By reevaluating your underperforming job descriptions, you can overcome some of the most common hiring challenges and attract the right candidates for your open positions.

To simplify the process of writing a standout job description, we’ve compiled job description samples for more than 600 jobs to help you attract the most qualified candidates.

*Source: Indeed Data, Worldwide

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*Indeed provides this information as a courtesy to users of this site. Please note that we are not your recruiting or legal advisor, we are not responsible for the content of your job descriptions, and none of the information provided herein guarantees performance.

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