How to attract qualified candidates to your jobs

Why is it that so many in the recruitment industry focus on quantity as the metric to measure when it comes to applications? Quantity is great if combined with quality but no-one wants 100 unsuitable applications. It’s a topic Wave CEO and Founder Dave Jenkins talked at length about with Louise Triance on a recent Recruitment Smarts Live podcast episode. So, how do you increase the number of qualified candidates applying to your jobs? Here are the key takeaways from their chat:

Watch the full conversation here 👆

Recruiters shouldn’t solely focus on receiving more applications

No recruiter really wants more applications if they’re not the right candidates. If you receive 100 applications and only four are suitable, you’ll end up spending a huge amount of time sifting through applications that aren’t relevant. As speed is vital in the fast-moving world of recruitment, you may find that you miss out on the good candidates while you sort through the unsuitable ones. Essentially, quantity doesn’t always equate to quality. In fact, quantity devoid of quality is a waste of your time as a recruiter. What you need is to optimise your advert and target the job boards that will bring you the highest number of quality applications from qualified candidates. And today, that is entirely possible through data analytics.

The Wave Recruitment Trends Report for 2023 found that 77% of all applications received in 2022 were of ‘bad quality’, with 10% being ‘average quality’ and 13% ‘good quality’. When this happens, not only have you invested money in a volume of applications that aren’t relevant, in the race to find candidates you could be losing out to competitors who are receiving quality applications. With the increase in job board prices, those cost increases must be justified not only in terms of volume but of quality.

Quality is subjective but means a candidate you can place

Ask that what defines quality when it comes to applications to a group of hiring managers and recruiters and you’ll no doubt receive a number of different answers. Quality is subjective, defined by the person recruiting, but, essentially, a quality, qualified applicant is a person you could place now or in the future. That is, they’re either worth shortlisting for a current job or saved for future jobs.

WaveTrackR has a traffic light system whereby recruiters can rank candidates depending on whether they’re perfect for a job they are currently recruiting for (green), not quite right for now but worth saving in the database for future opportunities (amber) or unsuitable for any job they recruit for (red). We use that combined data to measure application quality. Green and amber candidates, saved correctly in your database, are the ones that you can come back to in the future when the right job comes in, saving both time and, potentially, money.

Utilise data to increase the quantity of quality applications

How do you drive more quality applications to your jobs? It always comes back to data. Use your data to find out where the candidates are and when they’re active. Schedule your jobs to post on the right platforms and at the right times and Wave data shows that you could be receiving 80% more applications. When you post at the right time, on the right job board, with the right content, your likelihood of reaching and attracting qualified candidates, and therefore receiving quality applications, increases.

Right place – There are over 1,500 job boards in Europe alone so how do you know which job boards to use? One word: data. Make sure you’re tracking where quality candidates are coming from. It’s easy to get used to using the same job boards that you always have because they ‘kind of do the job’ but when you find and use the job boards that really work for your jobs, it will pay dividends. In other words, don’t just monitor your results once a year, shortly before your renewals come up, but review them at least a couple of times a year and keep an eye on performance using analytics throughout.

Right time – Wave data suggests that, in general, Mondays and Tuesdays, first thing in the working day is the best time to post in order to get your job in front of candidates when they’re actively searching. Of course, every industry has slightly different trends, which is why it’s important to check the data for your own industry. For example, we’ve found that industries such as Hospitality & Catering and Health & Nursing that tend to recruit for a lot of shift-based roles do receive applications over the weekend.

Right content – The content and structure of your job ad need to be right to ensure relevancy – this not only helps to attract qualified candidates (and quality applications) but detract candidates for whom the job isn’t relevant. Take a look at The ultimate guide to creating a killer job ad for detailed guidance on this but, as a snapshot, that means 250-300 words, the right keywords, a standardised job title (that includes not adding extra information in the title field or it won’t be indexed properly by the job boards), salary, location, benefits, limited to key responsibilities, being targeted with your description, de-gender and de-clutter your copy to keep it open to a diverse candidate base (opening up to people you might not have reached before, including highly relevant and skilled candidates) but narrowing in on those with the right skills.

Go beyond the job boards to increase your reach of qualified candidates

Generalist job boards can be a great source of traffic of quality candidates if you’re working with the right ones but so can a host of other platforms. What we don’t currently actively recommend is TikTok. There’s a lot of talk about recruiting via TikTok but, although it generates a lot of traffic, right now people aren’t going to the platform to look for jobs.

Niche job boards –  Specialised job boards can be more expensive but offer a more concentrated skillset which is incredibly valuable, especially in candidate-short sectors. You know you’ll be reaching candidates who work or are looking for work specifically in your sector and will be more likely to possess any specialised skills needed.

Social media – This might not just be actively advertising on platforms such as LinkedIn but joining and participating in industry-focused forums on social channels, networking, and sharing industry knowledge. Become known as the go-to recruiter in a particular industry on socials and you’ll attract qualified candidates.

Your website – Maximise the ROI of your website by ensuring you post your jobs to your website. There’s no extra cost, if you have a multi-poster it’s just a matter of a single click, and you could increase quality traffic to your jobs. Yet an alarming number of recruiters don’t post to their website at all and, of those that do, many aren’t optimising their jobs for Google for Jobs, which would bring even more targeted traffic.

Talent pool – Don’t forget to look to your CRM before you post your job out. Properly code your candidates and always turn to your candidate database first as a course of habit to avoid wasting both money and time. The perfect candidate could be right there in your database all along.

AI currently of limited help with candidate attraction

Although it has developed at rapid pace over the past 12 months, AI is still in its infancy. Wave was one of the first to adopt a copywriting tool for job ads and that felt like a huge milestone but it is only really a jumping off point, a way to overcome writer’s block and have something to work with. It’s a good way to ensure your job ads conform to best practices but needs editing to keep the content humanised.

What does seem inevitable is using AI on the recruiter side to combat AI being used on the candidate side. The rise of AI-powered mass apply, generating hundreds or even thousands of applications in an instant is troubling. Many recruiters will have no choice but to use sifting technology to deal with the influx in applications by screening the CVs that come in. Sadly none of this will lead to an increase in quality applications from qualified candidates. However, it’s AI that helps recruiters to make data-driven decisions that increase the relevancy of what, where and when you post so there are a lot of good applications for it.

We’re not bashing quantity here (unless we’re talking thousands of applications, no recruiter wants to deal with that!), more that it’s not the metric to focus on. A quantity of quality applications is the ideal scenario and that’s what Wave aims to help recruiters achieve. Increasing the quality of your applications can only lead to higher rates of placement success, something no recruiter could say they don’t want.

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