Get Candidates to Apply – Think Like an Online Marketer

By Jenn Steele - Aug. 21, 2014
Improve Your Company Branding With Zippia

You got your snazzy job ad text together with your killer job description, and you’re ready to go. You rev up your favorite form-filling software and take a trip through as many job sites as possible. A couple of days pass. Then a week. You aren’t hearing a peep from remotely attractive candidates.

Chances are, you spent so much time figuring out the perfect job description and title and skipped over the part where you told applicants what to do. It’s time to take a focused look at calls to action on job ads.

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1. Use a Strong Call to Action (CTA)

“Show, don’t tell” is a popular phrase in copywriting and the marketing world. Throw that out the window when it comes to writing calls to action for your job ad and description. Tell candidates exactly what they need to do to get their dream job with your company. You’ll find 100 different examples of calls to action on HubSpot. 

Some useful techniques for CTAs in job ads include establishing an incentive if applicants contact you, separating the CTA from the main job description and using actionable words instead of weak phrasing. Crazy Egg talks about weak call to action pitfalls, such as not making it clear why or how to act on a CTA, impersonal CTAs that don’t play up benefits and hiding CTAs within large blocks of text.

2. Improve Phrasing

Phrasing is key if you want great candidates jump on your CTA.  Avoid wishy washy and weak text that doesn’t concretely tell the candidate what they should do. Start the call to action with a verb and elaborate the how, where and sometimes the when within the text.

Need candidates to email you only on the first full moon after the vernal equinox? Tell them! recommends enticing candidates away from the job boards and getting them on your own website.

They’ll get a sense of your company style and culture when they visit your site, and you’ll avoid potentially losing their interest when they see related job listings on external sites.

3. Ditch Generic Language

Marketing “gurus” go on and on about standard CTAs, such as “Apply Here,” “Call us Today” or “Send Us Your Application.” Your applicants see hundreds of these phrases daily. Show your personality, especially if half of your ad talks about your laid back and fun atmosphere. Some examples of unconventional calls to action include:

  • Get onboard with the fastest growing company in the industry.
  • Send us your resume to take control of your career.
  • Make the best career decision ever. Send us your resume.
  • Talk to us and make your life better through our flexible scheduling.

4. Test!

Your marketing team will tell you that even the most well-thought-out, well-crafted ads don’t always work. Sometimes it’s easy to pinpoint the reason, sometimes it’s one of those oddly inexplicable occurrences.

The variability of reaction even with proven techniques makes extensive testing an important and necessary part of the candidate hunting process. A/B testing, also called split testing, uses two different versions of the job ad to see which one performs the best.

ClickZ emphasizes that one of the best practices of A/B testing is to only change one thing at a time. If you run two drastically different ads, you aren’t going to have any idea which parts actually make a difference and which parts are there because the marketing team needed more billable hours.

Use analytics tools to track performance. Treat it like a science experiment. You’ll need a control group, which would be your original underperforming ad, and the experimental group, which is the B in the A/B test. Set a time period to run your experiment and look over the results.

Start with your CTAs and work through the rest of the ad bit by bit to determine what works and what doesn’t.


Jenn Steele

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