11 Ways To Find The Best Candidates On Seek

By Michael Overell - May. 25, 2012
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How to find candidates on seekWith over 14 million visits a month, seek.com.au is Australia’s leading job site, offering recruiters and hiring managers a huge pool of potential candidates.

But these huge numbers come at a price. Most employers advertising on Seek will have experienced the tsunami of applications that follow. It’s like a firehose of unqualified, unsuitable and ineligible jobseekers from all corners of the globe, drowning your inbox with misspelt applications addressed to someone else.

For many employers, the flipside is also true: A poor response from candidates, and a job ad quickly pushed down the list by large advertisers on cheaper rates or shady tactics from recruiters.

So where does that leave you, when in desperate need of staff? It’s hard to ignore Seek, with its 74% market share. You need a candidate sourcing strategy that attracts quality over quantity.

Most employers simply ‘post and pray’ when it comes to Seek. But with a little effort upfront, you can dramatically improve your results, and save a tonne of time.

Here are 11 ways to get the best candidates on Seek:

1. Understand your target audience

Your very first requirement, before even thinking about a job ad, is to make sure you target the target audience. Think hard about:

  • Who you want target?
  • Where are they now?
  • What steps are they taking to look for a new opportunity?

Once you know who you’re speaking to, you might be ready to advertise.

2. Time your ad placement based on their needs

Knowing who you’re speaking to is one thing. Understanding when your they will be looking for jobs is another.

Many jobseekers are highly active online during the week (while they are at work!). But not everyone is fortunate enough to have Seek at their fingertips and may therefore be restricted to searching for jobs while at home.

For example, those in health care jobs or hospitality are more likely to be looking for jobs on a Monday as they may have worked straight through the weekend. You know your industry best so put yourself in your target candidate’s shoes to decide the best time to post your ad.

3. Use Seek’s standout option

As the name suggests, a standout ad on Seek will make your job ad stand out from the rest in the search results page.

By upgrading from a standard ad to a standout ad, you will receive:

  • A border around your ad to draw attention
  • Three key selling points (e.g. new position, top salary, great location)
  • Your company logo on the right hand side.

4. Optimise the summary or short description for click-throughs

The summary (or short description) is the first few lines of an ad that a job seeker reads on the search results page, before deciding whether or not to click through to the whole ad.

In order to increase your number of click-throughs, you need to ‘sell’ your position in those first few lines. Include information that will appeal to your ideal candidate (i.e. salary, opportunities, great conditions) while also talking directly to them.

On average, four times as many people read the summary than actually click through to the job ad itself. Put some effort into what you write – even if you only have a limited number of characters in which to say it. After all you don’t just want people reading the snapshot. You actually want people to read your entire advertisement, and then for only the best candidates to apply.

Alternatively, if it is a candidate-rich position being advertised, you can use the summary to emphasise applicant requirements (eg typing speed or required certificates) to ensure that only those with the appropriate qualifications click through to your ad.

5. Be specific about role requirements

Listing the requirements of the role in some detail is another way of ensuring that those who apply are either experienced in similar roles or believe they are able to undertake such a role, based on your description of the duties involved.

6. Make sure your ad is not just a shopping list

The job ad itself is a critical part of the recruitment process and often the first impression a candidate has of you or your organisation. Rather than just a list of bullet-pointed responsibilities (or a “copy and paste” of a job description), your ad needs to contain the following things:

  • A title that accurately reflects the role
  • The salary and benefits on offer
  • The skills and experience required
  • The role’s purpose within the company
  • The location of the role
  • Why the company is a great place to work.

According to Seek, this information can be grouped into three categories:

  • Basics:  Critical information such as job title, salary, location etc.
  • Specifics:  More detail about the responsibilities, benefits etc
  • Nice-To-Knows:  Useful information such as company culture, work environment, opportunities for advancement etc.

7. Choose the role category carefully

Make sure the category you select accurately reflects the role you are recruiting for, rather than the industry it is in (eg a secretarial role in an accounting firm should be advertised under Administration and not Accounting).

Seek provides a choice of categories and sub-categories, allowing you to be as specific as possible and attract only qualified candidates.

8. Use Seek’s pre-screening questions

Another service offered by Seek is their screening questionnaire. This allows you to further screen your candidates by asking them a series of relevant questions prior to the interview stage. You can then remove from your list those who don’t select the right answers.

9. Include your own specific ‘filtering’ test

This can be a clever approach to automatically screen out candidates who can’t follow specific instructions. Ask candidates to apply for the position in a certain way. For example, tell them to include particular words or a reference number in the subject line or title of their application.

This approach can be particularly useful for positions that require high attention to detail. If a candidate can’t follow a simple instruction, don’t even read their application.

10. Access Seek’s résumé database

This is a library of hundreds of thousands of résumés that you can search to find candidates who match the requirements of your position.

You can search using a number of different criteria including city or region, type of work (e.g. full or part time), key job functions, salary expectations, education and more.

Using the database, you can build up a list of qualified candidates, who you can then email to gauge their interest in applying for your position.

Seek’s résumé database can provide you with a whole new list of potential candidates apart from those who have already seen and applied directly  to your job ad. Of course, for most roles you could rightly argue that LinkedIn is a better channel for this type of sourcing.

11. Refresh your ad after 7 days

Why? Because after a week, most job seekers would have seen your ad. If it hasn’t generated the required response, try refining it. Highlight aspects different to those emphasised in the original ad and you may hit the right buttons (eg it may be that your ideal candidate is motivated more by a great working environment than by salary or benefits).


Many people have argued that job boards are dead. But for most roles, they’re still a necessary part of the recruitment process. And in Australia, the job board market is so clearly dominated by Seek that it sometimes feels like the ‘only game in town’.

Don’t despair. With a bit of effort you can improve results and remove some of the pain from advertising on Seek.


Michael Overell

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