It’s no secret among recruiters that even though there are plenty of job openings at the moment, fewer people seem to be applying.
This isn’t just something talent acquisition professionals are sensing. The numbers back it up. According to iCIMS’ April Workforce Report, job openings in the U.S. have risen 22% since the start of the year but job applications have dropped by nearly the same amount (23%). LinkedIn data has also found that job seekers are choosier, viewing nearly twice as many job posts before applying in 2021 than they did in 2019.
For recruiters, this presents a thorny problem. How do you fill roles when people won’t even apply? Fortunately, there are a number of ways to encourage more candidates to hit the “apply” button.
Here are 17 tips you might want to consider:
1. Make your application process quick and easy.
Applying for a job should take minimal effort. To make the application easier, start by removing any unnecessary extra steps, such as asking candidates to upload their resume and then manually fill out their job history. Research shows that conversion rates — from job seeker to applicant — increase by 365% when a job application takes five minutes or less to complete.
2. Shout from the rooftops about your flexible work opportunities.
More than ever, job seekers want roles that provide flexibility. It’s such a top priority that if an employer doesn’t offer flexible options, candidates will wait for one that does. So, tout your flexibility if you’re offering it — and put it high up in your job descriptions.
3. Emphasize your company’s commitment to DEI.
In your job descriptions, social media, and recruitment marketing, let candidates know that you are a welcoming and inclusive place to work, regardless of an employee’s race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or disability. You might follow the example of HubSpot, which wrote in one job description: “HubSpot is a place where everyone can grow. So however you identify and whatever background you bring with you, please apply if this is a role that would make you excited to come to work every day.”
Studies show that gender-coded words can significantly reduce the number of women who apply to open positions. To make job descriptions more inclusive, replace these masculine-sounding titles with more straightforward ones, such as “developer” or “sales representative.” You can also use online tools such as Textio and Textmetrics that analyze job descriptions and suggest improvements to make your language more inclusive of all applicants.
Shorter job posts (less than 300 words) tend to result in more applications than those that are medium length (301–600 words) or long (601+ words). In fact, shorter job posts receive 8.4% more applications per view than average. Considering that most candidates spend very little time scanning a post, you’ll have a much better shot if you keep it brief.
6. Include no more than six requirements for each job — and shoot for fewer.
When you’re trimming job posts, consider starting with your list of “requirements.” Why? A long list of must-haves may discourage candidates from applying because they worry they don’t measure up. Instead, prioritize what’s important and aim for a small number of clear, concise goals. Or eliminate “requirements” altogether. LinkedIn data shows that U.S. job posts that mentioned “responsibilities” but not “requirements” received 14% more applications per view.
One of the main things people want to know when applying for a job is, “Can I afford to take the role?” That’s why it’s important to include a salary range and benefits in your job descriptions — and in particular to call out inclusive benefits like parental leave and childcare subsidies. Sharing salary ranges conveys your commitment to transparency and fair play.
8. Optimize your job descriptions for search engines.
If you knock yourself out writing a stellar job description, you want people to see it, right? So, think about search engine optimization (SEO) too. To get the most eyes on your post, try these tips: Avoid gimmicky titles (there’s that “ninja” again); put the job title and location front and center; add links to your company homepage; and share, share, share. The more a post is shared, the more weight a search engine gives it.
Consider using e-commerce advertising tactics to optimize your spending on recruiting channels. Track the cost per application on both paid and unpaid recruiting channels and then compare them to see where you are getting the most bang for your buck. You can significantly increase applications without adding a penny to your budget.
10. Include a video with your job descriptions.
One- to two-minute videos that show a day in the life at your company are a great way for candidates to see the office space and hear the hiring manager’s voice. Yes, video requires more time and effort, but it can improve engagement and may be worth it for certain high-profile positions or high-volume ones that have large applicant pools.
11. Rethink the way you start your job descriptions.
Candidates are looking at nearly twice as many job postings per application as they were two years ago, which means you need your posts to stand out. You can catch their eye by fine-tuning your openings. Try focusing on the candidate (using “you” and “your”), highlighting how they’ll benefit from the role, and consider adding a touch of humor. Make it compelling enough that candidates will continue to read but brief enough that they can decide in seconds whether to apply.
12. Update your company’s Career Page.
Most candidates will do their research before pursuing a role and one of the first places they’ll look is your company’s Career Page. To improve your page, be sure to include easily accessible information that candidates want to see, such as specific details about your culture, core values, and benefits and perks. Also include photos of employees and your workspace (if you have one), so candidates can envision working for you.
Companies with positive employer brands receive twice as many applications as those with negative brands. How to up your brand? If your company offers what employees want most now — flexible work, work-life balance, a commitment to DEI — say it loudly and often across all your channels. Then track your metrics to see how your efforts are affecting candidate quality, offer acceptance rates, and retention rates.
14. Keep it real.
Job seekers are looking for authenticity, so the more your job post sounds like your company, the better. LinkedIn has found that if the tone of your post doesn’t match your culture, candidates are two to four times less likely to apply. In an industry that’s buttoned up and formal, for example, a casual job post may come across as unprofessional. In a creative industry, it may hit the perfect note.
When candidates have a bad experience during the recruiting/hiring process, they’ll talk to their friends and family about it — and according to a 2018 report, 35% will share about it publicly online. To improve your candidate experience, ask for candidate’s feedback at multiple touchpoints throughout the process. That way, you can correct any problems and nip bad reviews in the bud.
LinkedIn analyzed nearly 4 million job posts published between December 2017 and August 2021 and discovered that companies required at least three years of relevant work experience for 35% of their entry-level postings. This isn’t just an American problem either. A recent analysis of job postings by Verve Search found that 24% of junior or entry-level jobs in the U.K. required applicants to have at least one year experience. This obviously presents a catch-22: How can early-career candidates get the experience they need if no one will consider them for a job? By removing this requirement from entry-level job descriptions, you make the roles more accessible, which can only increase applications.
17. Promote your job post on Mondays.
This probably won’t come as a shock, but Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are the worst days to post your job. LinkedIn has found that viewing and application rates are highest on Mondays and gradually decline as the week goes on. More than half of all views (59%) and applications (57%) take place between Monday and Wednesday. So, catch candidates early in the week to get more people to apply.