Last month, I looked at the importance of ensuring the prep work around creating a new vacancy was always carried out and investigated how a job, talent and reward evaluation helps ensure a great candidate experience (CanDex) for talent throughout the selection process.
In this article I’ll look in detail at how to master the crucial interfaces between your organisation and prospective talent that occur when you market and advertise a vacancy.
This includes the steps you need to take to ensure positive candidate experience, regardless of the outcome of the application.
There are a number of areas that require close attention within marketing and advertising, and we’ll spend a little time on each to understand them and how they fit together.
Initially, let’s look at the actual writing of the advert itself.
First things, first:
Accuracy and Collaboration
Recruitment advertising is always a fine balance between providing enough detail to allow applicants to understand whether they’re qualified enough to apply and illustrating the attractiveness of the opportunity.
In The Three Cardinal Sins for Hiring a New Role, I looked at separating out what you need from a role and what you want from it and how to turn that into a job specification. Following that advice, it should be a fairly simple to illustrate the key selling points of the opportunity while clearly showing what experience should be required to successfully carry out the role.
The crucial element here is to be informative and very clear about the level of experience required. Candidates who aren’t suitable should be able to determine this very clearly from the advert. The worst-case scenario from a CanDex perspective is an ambiguous advert that encourages unsuitable people to apply. Combine that with no feedback (which we’ll talk about later in the article), and you have a recipe for CanDex disaster!
Advert writing is where collaborative working can really come into its own.
It may be that an operational person has written the job description (the person who is recruiting for the role, for example) and will then run it past a human resource or recruitment professional to add their input and ensure organisational alignment.
From a candidate experience perspective, I recommend including input from the marketing team at this stage to cover brand values and employee proposition. Having the key stakeholders involved from the outset is the best way to ensure a positive candidate experience.
This collaborative approach can often yield positive results in terms of the next area of focus for CanDex – the creation of the compelling narrative.
Remember that adverts aren’t job descriptions, they are more like sales pitches and require an entirely different writing approach.
Best Practice and Accessibility
Digital elements such as infographics and video can and should be incorporated into the advert in an effort to ensure the narrative is relayed in the most compelling way possible and has the broadest possible appeal.
Different mediums appeal to different individuals and it may be that a written approach alone produces a less positive CanDex for some applicants. In these instances, a video (with subtitles!) can produce a more positive experience.
If there has to be writing throughout the advert, the next priority should be ensuring that your language is as open and accessible as possible. You want everyone who reads the advert to have the same positive experience of being informed of what’s required to carry out the role and what rewards could be gained from securing the position.
Unconsciously deterring potential candidates through closed or discriminatory language is the exact opposite of what we are aiming for in terms of positive CanDex. Thankfully, there are a number of readily available solutions to this particular challenge, and this is where a collaborative approach to generating the advert can help. Lean on your HR professionals for guidance with gender neutral language and accessibility options on your audio and video content.
Details of the reward package available for the role should be displayed clearly and frequently. One of the most often criticized areas within recruitment marketing and advertising is the withholding or obfuscation of details regarding remuneration. This is, very clearly, data that will allow a potential applicant to decide whether the role is suitable for them or not and should be clearly signposted and illustrated as openly as possible.
If publishing this information publicly creates an issue internally, the internal problem needs to be solved immediately. Terms such as “competitive” and “attractive” in place of hard figures should be avoided as much as possible as these words are clearly subjective and can mean many different things to different people.
Reaching The Right People
Once the advert is ready to be released into the wild, it’s time to consider the platforms and channels for distribution.
There are three main routes to consider here: social media, job boards and specialist forums (Discord servers, Slack channels, etc).
It’s important to think of the audience you’re connecting with and tailor your message for each channel (for example, a LinkedIn post would look different to a message in a Slack channel) for the best candidate experience.
While you’ll want to cover as many channels as possible, there is one important rule: all roads lead back to your website, where your advert proudly sits.
Now that people are being directed to your website, carefully consider what happens when someone applies for the vacancy. If you use an Applicant Tracking System, which requires an additional detailed form to be completed, you’re probably committing the single biggest CanDex sin out there.
A CV should be able to be submitted as an alternative to any form filling or, even better, allow a link to a relevant social media site (Linkedin, etc) where people can easily apply. Don’t ask applicants to “jump through hoops” just to be considered for a role. The chances are that (a) they won’t or (b) if they do, they will not be happy about it.
Offering Feedback to Unsuccessful Applicants
Finally, and often controversially, we have the subject of feedback for those not invited to interview. Some research indicates that every applicant should be responded to individually, others say that an automated response should suffice.
Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast answer here in terms of CanDex. If all applicants have to be responded to – what happens if there are hundreds of applications from those who are clearly unsuitable for the role? What about spamming? What about people who clearly haven’t read the advert and decided to apply anyway? Should they be afforded the same courtesy as those who have applied genuinely? It’s a tricky one.
The best advice I can give is to respond to everyone who has been unsuccessful in their application, and who are clearly in the right ballpark for the role (having read the accompanying advert, etc.)
So, there we have it – a short guide to improving candidate experience when marketing and advertising for new positions.
Always remember advert writing really does flow from the creation of the role. If the steps outlined above are followed after that, the chances are that you will have created an environment where applicants will have a very positive experience and they will very quickly feel a strong bond with your organisation very early in the application process.
Rob’s our Client Services Director. It’s been almost 15 years and he’s still the smiling face that our clients know and love. Whether it’s ensuring excellence in our engagement model or presenting at one of our events, Rob is often the first MBN face that people see. He’s pretty good, too. So good that he’s been recognised as one of the hundred most influential people in the UK Data Industry...twice.