A healthier economy can frustrate hiring managers, because those once-large pools of qualified applicants can suddenly shrink, especially for entry and mid-level positions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are now fewer than two American job-seekers per job opening. During the height of the last recession, the average number of applicants per job vacancy was over six.
Fewer applicants means fewer choices, which means you'll need to spend more money and more time to train and acculturate those you do hire.
So how do you grow your applicant pool? More importantly: how do you grow it smartly, and efficiently?
Here's what we've learned. Workpop's proprietary hiring software platform has collected lots of data on what types of of job descriptions reliably attract the most--and best--job applicants. When you're in talent-seeking mode, presenting your company and the available job in the following six ways can help you produce a larger, more qualified applicant pool.
1. Don't be afraid to belabor the obvious.
Even if the basic features of a role seem like a given, lay them out in detail--many job boards won't even let you post a job description with fewer than 30 words. You and your potential hires might have a perfectly adequate and intuitive grasp of what a receptionist does. But putting some meat on the bones of your expectations pays dividends. Rather than just making obligatory reference to "heavy phones and email," for instance, be specific. Be clear, for example, that your receptionist will welcome and greet visitors or maintain security through established procedures like monitoring visitors and issuing them badges.
2. Extend specifics to your company culture.
It's not just a lifelike portrait of the job that good applicants will gravitate toward in force, but a fully fleshed out picture of the professional environment where they'll be doing that job every work day. Share what you're proud of and what makes you tick. If you have a hard-charging culture, and skip some holidays or stay open for extended hours, lay that out. You're even well-advised to brag a little, in a matter-of-fact way. Is your quality uncompromising? Have you set industry standards year after year, or decade after decade? Let your future team members know.
3. Don't hide the paycheck football.
People want to know what they're in for, and that goes double for how their compensation will be structured. If there's a range employees can expect to earn per shift or per hour, that's attractive information. EXAMPLE: "Servers can earn $100-$300 per shift" or "Greeters can earn $13-$25 per hour") Special perks, benefits, or programs? Ditto. If there's something special or memorable that that illustrates how your company balances work and life, good applicants will be all ears.
4. Show what you want in an ideal applicant.
Success is often about more than just completing tasks competently on time. Your ideal candidate's personality would be a great fit too. You've already detailed your company culture (right?)--take that next step and explain what kind of person will be right at home, firing on all cylinders. Think style and poise, assertiveness and attentiveness, or grace under pressure. Here's an actual example from one of our clients: "A poised and sophisticated sense of personal style are important for this role; friendliness and high standards are non-negotiable."
5. List those skills.
Applicants expect to provide a breakdown of their relevant skills; make it easy for them to knock it out of the park by leaving no doubt about which skills are relevant! Job listings with precisely enumerated qualifications and requirements make that happen, whether it's hourly availability, physical attributes, languages and education, or specific kinds of experience included in your must-haves. Example: "Excel data entry, Outlook, MAC with QuickBooks and Photoshop - proficiency or eagerness to learn...."
6. Share what's next.
Even for the best candidates, too much suspense up front can be a turnoff. Make sure their expectations are set for the whole application experience, sketching out next steps if they're selected. Although Workpop's data shows that not all top-applicant job listings made this special move, it is a simple and straightforward day to put yourself a notch above. Got a sequence of follow-on interviews, or a particular standard of dress you want met? Those are the right details to put a bow on your posting.
Got any tips we might have missed? Let us know!