Hiring Tips: 17 Actionable Strategies to Get More Candidates

Hiring Tips: 17 Actionable Strategies to Get More Candidates

Author
Sean Falconer

Most business owners are tasked with hiring at some point in the life cycle of their organization, yet not all business owners are intrinsically gifted hirers. How can you know how to hire effectively if you are a nonprofessional hirer?

For those lacking the experience necessary to make the right hire, consider the following, 100% actionable tips your guide to save money, have more hiring options and make your company look awesome in the process.

 

Optimizing Your Job Title

The first step to getting an increased number of quality applicants is to make sure your job comes up in job seeker searches as much as possible. Once you are dominating the search results, you next need to make sure candidates choose to click on your job.

Remember, you are competing with hundreds or perhaps thousands of similar positions.

Follow these simple techniques to guarantee maximum search visibility and clickthroughs.

Put the Role in the Title

Most job seekers begin their application process by searching for the type of position they want to be hired for on various job boards.

Many job boards like Craigslist use exact matching for their search algorithm. This means that your job listing will only show if the title or description contains the exact terms the candidate typed into the search box.

Lead with the role you are hiring for so a candidate will know immediately if there’s a potential match.

Use the Most Common Terms to Specify the Role

You want to make sure you use the most common phrasing that a job seeker is likely to search for when specifying the role. Don’t reinvent the role.

For example, if you are hiring for an “Administrative Assistant”, don’t instead write “Office Assistant." This will automatically cut your search traffic by a significant factor.

If you have any doubt about what words to use to describe the role, you can use this simple trick.

Head over to Google’s Keyword Planning tool and enter all the possibilities into the tool to check the search volume. The version with the highest search volume is your best bet (see example below).

 

Make Your Title Stand Apart

As an applicant, which position would you click on? Maybe all of them? Or maybe you will skip down the page to the title thatfs more interesting.

It's great to have the role you are hiring for as the head of your job title, but you want to attract as many people to your listing as possible, so spice up your title a little bit and make it stand apart. You can add additional spice by including a little more about the role, company, or benefits.

  • 
  • Administrative Assistant Needed! Design Background A Major Plus!
  • 
  • Administrative Assistant (Full Benefits & Gym Membership)
  • 
  • Administrative Assistant | Exciting Recently Funded Startup!

Keep Your Title Under 60 Characters

You do not want your title too short, but you also don't want it excessively long. Job titles between 50 and 60 characters outperform others by 30-40%!

On Google, the limit for a viewable title is about 60 characters, Craigslist limits titles to 70 characters, and some other sites like Indeed allow titles up to 200 characters.

However, you want to avoid your title trailing onto two lines, which for most sites (including Indeed) is about 60 characters.

Put Parentheses (i.e. Brackets) in Your Title

With regular search engines, adding brackets to your title has been shown to increase your clickthroughrate (CTR).

The reason is simple: it’s an effective means to make your title stand apart from the crowd.

Obviously, you want to use these when it makes sense, like injecting a short subtitle into your job heading or describing some detail about your company or the role. It’s a great way to be unique and attract more clickthroughs to your job.

Be Conscious of Your Character Spacing

In both the examples above, it’s much better to add a space between the slash then cram the two words together.

There’s two major reasons.

One is that having the space makes the titles more readable. If you are quickly scanning a bunch of job listings, the slash can get lost. To the reader, the title may appear messy causing them to move onto something that’s more easily digestible.

Second, some job boards will consider “Assistant/Office” as a single search term rather than as two independent words.

This is bad.

You have such precious little real estate in your title to begin with; you can’t afford to be missing out on potential candidate searches because part of your title is never going to match any queries.

Avoid Using ALL CAPS

Source: Why Text in All Caps Is Hard for Users to Read

Some people attempt to use all capitals in their titles to stand apart. I applaud the effort, but unfortunately it’s a real turn off. It feels like the job is yelling at the candidate. Further, all capital lettering is inherently difficult to read.

This is because with all capitals you lose all shape context for lettering, everything is roughly the same size. This slows down the reader and makes the words harder to process.

Optimizing Your Job Description to Attract Applications

You have now optimized your title to get lots of clicks. Awesome.

The next step is to optimize your job description to make sure that people viewing your job apply and that you are attracting the right kind of candidate.

Start with a Job Template

To get started and have the basic structure and flow for a good job description, you can start with a free job description template. These templates are already optimized for search and will help you get started with the skills and experience required for the position you are hiring for.

Chunk Your Content

No one likes reading a block of text. It’s important to remember that most potential applicants are going to be reading your description on their computer or mobile phone.

Web readers typically only read a maximum of 20% of content and job seekers only spend an average of 30 seconds on each job post.

Bullet points are an easy way to chunk your content to make it faster to scan or jump to the most relevant information for the reader.

When writing paragraphs, try to keep your paragraphs short, 1 to 2 sentences where possible.

The most important sentences in a paragraph are the first and last, most of the middle content is skipped. Keep paragraphs to one main idea.

Use headings, bold or italics to help break up different parts of your job description like skills, requirements, benefits, how to apply and so forth.

Add Personality

Similar to having a unique compelling title, you want your job description to also stand apart.

Sure, it’s important to layout the requirements for the job, but injecting some personality into the description will help candidates feel inspired to apply.

It’s also an opportunity for you to attract the right kind of candidate. If you want to hire an administrative assistant that will be a friendly face greeting your clients, then your job description should not be bland and dry.

Have some fun with the description. Here’s a snippet of a description we used to hire a customer success intern.

We are looking for hunger, excellence, and awesomeness. You are fearless and humble. You will walk through walls, and your hair will still look sexy right afterwards.

You will be responsible for helping make our customers ultra happy and successful...a positive attitude is a must!

You will also help in every possible way when needed... when fires break out, everybody grabs a bucket, from the dog to the CEO!

Many of the people we interviewed said they felt compelled to apply due to our description because it was so much fun. Obviously, you need to tailor your description to the type of candidate you wish to attract.

Feature Your Company

Your job description is the first point of contact with most applicants. It’s your opportunity to show off your company.

Do you have an awesome office?

Do your employees have interesting hobbies like playing music, surfing or hang gliding?

Do employees get free meals, snacks or a company-sponsored happy hour?

Let everyone know what makes you unique. Millennials now make up almost half the workforce, research indicates that they care more about worklife balance and culture than salary and title.

Add an Image

Images are a great way to help show off your company and make your job listing more visually appealing. You can show off a company outing, company dog, or your awesome office.

Beyond being a great way to feature your company, content with images is simply more engaging. Articles with images lead to more shares, more comments, and they rank better on Google.

Use Keywords

You want people to find your job listing.

There’s often many ways to refer to a specific position: administrative assistant, admin assistant, secretary, executive assistant, and so forth are all essentially the same job and you want your listing to show up regardless of the search term the candidate uses.

This is why it’s essential that you do a little “keyword stuffing” into your job description to help make it more findable.

Take a look at this screenshot above from an ad for a Lyft driver on Craigslist. No one is going to read through this monstrosity, but it contains everything that Lyft wants to have their ad show up for.

It even contains a version in Spanish in case a potential driver is searching in Spanish. Lyft places this below the fold at the bottom of their ads because it is really only there to help widen their applicant funnel.

Bonus Optimization Strategies

You are now setup to attract eyeballs and inspire candidates to apply to your job. That already puts you way ahead of your competitors. Check out these bonus strategies to take things to the next level.

Reduce Application Friction

Adding any kind of Applicant Tracking System (ATS) form into the application process will reduce your applicant flow from 40-60%.

This is because most ATS forms require the applicant to restate large parts of their resume, sometimes create a user account, and jump through other hurdles.

Take for example the form below.

This is the first step to applying for a server position at Red Lobster. It’s a pretty daunting form. Their password and account requirements are more rigorous than most online banking systems.

If there’s an alternative job advertisement where a candidate can simply email their their resume, they are going to choose that job over the one with the extra steps every single time.

It’s not because they are lazy, it’s simply because there are other easier opportunities available.

The best candidates already have jobs or are being approached with other opportunities on a regular basis. If they have to jump through a lot of hurdles without knowing that they have a legitimate chance at getting the job, they will simply move on.

Respond Quickly

If you have a candidate that looks good, don’t wait around to contact them. Response time matters.

Did you know that response time is one of the most important criteria for renters on Airbnb? It’s because if you are booking a vacation, you don’t want to wait around and hope you have a place to stay.

The same is true for applying to jobs. Good candidates are going to keep applying to other jobs and take other job interviews, so don’t let your competitors scoop them up ahead of you. Respond immediately.

This is true throughout the hiring process. It’s better to over-communicate than to leave someone guessing. Let them know you received their application and that you will be interviewing soon. If you decide not to make them an offer, let them know you went in a different direction, but that you appreciated meeting them and for taking the time to apply.

Leverage Social Media

14.4 million job seekers used social media to find jobs in 2014, with 83% of all job seekers being active on Facebook. These are huge numbers and you can take advantage for free!

Simply use your own social media channels: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and anything else your company has a page on and advertise the position for which you are hiring.

You can even boost your post on Facebook and use their audience targeting to try to reach the exact type of person you want to hire. For $100, you could reach 10,000 Facebook users that would have likely completely missed your job ad.

Stay Ahead of Your Competitors with Mobile

This one is pretty simple. You likely have a computer in your pocket (i.e. smartphone). Use it to help accelerate your hiring process.

With email or some hiring apps, you can cut down on your response time to engaged candidates by setting up interviews and responding on the go. You can even post jobs directly from your phone.

Text messaging is a great way to communicate with candidates coming into interviews and make sure they are going to show up.

Anything I missed?

Did I miss any hiring tips that you know about?

Or perhaps you have questions about one of these strategies. Either way, let me know in the comments.

Sean Falconer is CTO and co-founder of Proven.com. Prior to Proven, he was a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Stanford Center for Biomedical Informatics Research where he worked on applications for the semantic web.

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