Right time, right place, right content: how data can help you to target the right candidates

Finding qualified candidates for a particular role at the exact moment in time that you need them has always been one of the greatest challenges faced by recruiters. And this has only intensified with the UK’s shrinking workforce.

What every recruiter could do with is a crystal ball that can tell them the best time and platform to post a job in order to target the highest percentage of quality candidates in the market. And not forgetting what to include in the job advert.

While they might struggle to find a crystal ball, access to the next best thing is far from a fairytale: data. Not as magical perhaps, but more reliable. Data is a recruiter’s fairy godmother (now we’ve added the magic back!). With it, recruiters can make informed, targeted decisions on where and when to post jobs for maximum candidate exposure.

Data is WaveTrackR’s superpower. Analysing the data of thousands of jobs and applications, we can make recommendations on the right time, the right day and the right platform to post your jobs. Want to know what day the majority of candidates apply for jobs? Or how long it takes them to apply once a job is posted? Curious as to whether job boards are still the go-to platform for candidates to apply for jobs? We dig deep into all of this, plus why it matters, and share a little advice on content.

Why use data to help form your candidate attraction strategies?

The age of spray and pray is well and truly over. It was never a great strategy but was made popular by low job board prices and the absence of any data that could reliably inform recruiters where and when to post their jobs. The best strategy in those circumstances seemed to be to cover as many bases as possible in the hope that you’d reach at least a few good candidates. If in doubt, keep posting.

There have been a few major developments since that time. Job board prices have increased, making it unaffordable to invest in huge numbers of credits, there’s been a shift in the role that recruiters are expected to fulfil (it’s all in the value-add, providing industry intel and taking on more of a consultative role), and developments in tech offering greater access to data. Recruiters no longer have to rely on guesswork and luck. They can instead rely on accurate data to help them to decide where and when to post their jobs. At a time when candidate availability is still relatively low, economic pressures are high, and competition is fierce, data should be your weapon of choice, giving you an advantage and saving you both time and money.

Why is timing so important?

As long as you’ve posted a job to the job boards, candidates will see it, right? Not necessarily. Just like Google, job board algorithms prioritise freshness so the older it is, the further down the search ranking your job will appear.

You need your job to be towards the top of the list and certainly on the first page or it risks not being seen at all. If you post your job at a time when not many candidates are searching, by the time they are there could be dozens of similar jobs posted ahead of yours. There’s another reason that coinciding your job posts for the time that most candidates are looking for jobs is so important and that is derived from time to apply data.

Data from the Wave Recruitment Trends Report for 2023 shows that the majority of applications for 7 day listings are received within 24 hours and within 48 hours for 30-42 day listings. In fact, 50% of all applications are received within 48 hours of a job being posted. This makes posting your job at a time that candidates are actively looking vital – it is the difference between your job appearing on page 1 or page 21 when qualified candidates are looking. Luckily, we have that data too!

Time to apply for 7-day listings – Wave Recruitment Trends Report for 2023

Right time: day

Do you post your jobs towards the end of the week, thinking that candidates will be searching for jobs over the weekend? You may be missing out on getting your jobs in front of quality, qualified candidates.

Data taken from the Wave Recruitment Trends Report for 2023 has revealed that the majority of applications were received on Tuesday, with Monday and Wednesday close behind. What this shows is that candidates are most active at the beginning of the week – a trend that has persisted for many years. The data shows that applications slowly decrease as the week wanes, with the weekend being the quietest period. Currently, the majority of jobs are posted on Wednesdays and Thursdays. However, posting more jobs on a Monday and Tuesday would be beneficial so the jobs are fresh for candidates applying on a Monday and for the majority who apply on a Tuesday.

Jobs and applications distribution by weekday – Wave Recruitment Trends Report for 2023

Right time: hour

When it comes to time of day, WaveTrackR data suggests that applications and jobs are largely in sync. The data shows that the majority of candidates apply in the middle of the day, between 10am and 2pm, although it is fairly evenly spaced out between 9am and 5pm.

This goes against the general belief that most candidates apply outside of work hours and may be a result of an increased number of people working from home for at least part of the week – if you’re at home you can use your lunch break to search for jobs in private, or you might have greater flexibility with your time.

There is, however, still some application activity in the evenings, with 6pm and 7pm being the most popular post-work time to apply. The vast majority of jobs are posted at 12pm, followed closely by 11am so this works with the times that candidates are online and applying.

Jobs and applications by time of day – Wave Recruitment Trends Report for 2023

Right place

Firstly, with all the conversation in recent years suggesting that job boards are losing their relevance, should you even be posting jobs on job boards anymore?

Our data suggests a resounding yes. 80% of all jobs are posted to job boards and a huge 89% of all applications are received via job boards. What is particularly interesting is that the number of jobs posted to job boards dropped by 1% from 2021 to 2022 but the number of applications rose by 3% from 2021.

Clearly, candidates are still using job boards more than any other platform. However, with a huge number of job boards now in existence and more launching all the time, it can be really hard to know which boards are right for your industry and your roles. That’s another area where data can help.

Jobs and applications distribution by channel – Wave Recruitment Trends Report for 2023

Budgets need to be focused into areas with a high ROI and data can help determine where those areas are. On an individual level, tech such as WaveTrackR uses live data to make recommendations on where to post based on your job ad.

Data-driven reports such as the Wave Recruitment Trends Report for 2023 can reveal where most jobs were posted and which board received the highest percentage of applications – something that doesn’t always correlate.

Average application per job per job board tells us which job boards are receiving the highest levels of applications per job and application quality per job board sheds light on the quality rather than the quantity of applications from a range of both niche and generalist job boards. Industry-specific data tells you where the majority of applications for jobs in your industry are coming from.

Right content

The right content can determine not just whether a candidate feels compelled to apply but whether that candidate sees it at all. Standardised titles are crucial in that respect – quirky titles may be more creative but might not be picked up in a search.

Word length is similarly crucial to a job advert. Too short and it risks not imparting enough information for a candidate to feel comfortable applying. Too long and it may either scare or bore candidates away, leading them to quickly click onto another ad.

It’s important to remember that a job ad is not a job description. It should not contain every role responsibility or an unabridged history of the company. An advert – whether for a product or a job – should be designed to grab attention and compel the reader to action.

Application distribution by advert length – Wave Recruitment Trends Report for 2023

Data from the Wave Recruitment Trends Report for 2023 shows that, as a percentage of total applications across all industries, ads comprising 250-300 words receive the majority of applications.

Of course, optimal average word length differs depending on industry as some roles require more or less detail than others. For Social Services, for example, a comparatively lengthy 600-650 word length received the majority of applications. Banking candidates prefer it short and sweet, with the majority of applications being received for 150-220 word ads.

It’s also important to include a salary or salary range and pinpoint any relevant benefits such as flexible working, healthcare coverage, and ongoing training and upskilling opportunities. The Wave Recruitment Trends Report for 2023 shows that the number of jobs advertised with flexible working opportunities has increased 100-fold from 2020 to 2022. Flexible working is no longer a workplace unicorn but a candidate priority and those not offering it may be losing out on qualified candidates to competitors that do.

In order to remain competitive in 2023, utilising data to form your candidate attraction strategies is essential. See it as your crystal ball – now that’s real magic.

Find this data and more

In Wave’s Recruitment Trends Report for 2023 we dig into the recruitment trends that characterised 2022, including how the job market evolved over the year.

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