In a tight hiring market, it’s essential that companies and recruiters provide candidates with a positive experience. If the hiring process is smooth and efficient, candidates are more likely to accept a job offer and recommend the company to their peers. 
But when does the candidate experience begin? For many applicants, it’s when they read the job advertisement. There and then, candidates form a strong first impression of the company that will influence their decision about whether to apply for the position.
To discover more about how candidates react to job ads, we surveyed 7000 applicants from late September to mid-December 2021. Read on to discover more about the pivotal role job advertisements play in the candidate experience.

Location, location, location

We asked candidates what they regarded as the most important information contained in job ads, and one element stood out: location. Almost six in 10 (59%) of those polled said job location is the key piece of data in any job posting, followed by contract type (47%) and job title (44%).

Other pieces of information that candidates focus on include:
•    Salary (the most important element for 37% of candidates)
•    Position seniority (24%)
•    Company name (19%)
•    Publication date (18%)

Candidates like to read!

In this busy world, it may surprise you to learn that 68% of candidates in our survey said they read the whole job advertisement. The remainder said they read 80-90% of the content.  
This preference for reading the whole ad may be linked to accessibility. Many candidates now view job postings on their mobile devices. Over one-third (37%) of those polled said they mainly use mobile devices to read job ads, and 26% use the same devices to apply for the position. However, almost half (49%) of candidates still use mainly desktop or laptop computers to submit the application. 

Form can be as important as content

Some recruiters are experimenting with original and creative formats for job ads. But the candidates we polled have different priorities. More than six in 10 (61%) said they prefer a professional, detailed format. Around 35% like having subgroups in the job advertisement, while 33% appreciate an ad that is short and concise. 

Candidates want more information

Sometimes, candidates notice what isn’t included in job advertisements as much as what is. For example, almost nine in 10 (88%) of respondents think that job ads should include information about company culture.  A similar proportion (87%) like to see a salary range, while 69% say there are interested in learning more about the organisation’s benefits and perks. 

Using job ads for benchmarking

Not all candidates read job advertisements because they’re interested in applying for the position. Some simply use the information to benchmark the salary and job description of the advertised role against their own terms of employment. However, only 16% of those surveyed say they use job ads to benchmark regularly (at least once a year), while 23% do it every 2-3 years. A large majority (61%) of respondents say they never use job ads for benchmarking.

Other sources of information

Even the most comprehensive job advertisement only tells the candidate a fraction of what they need to know about a company before accepting a position. The vast majority of candidates (92%) polled in our survey also look at the company website. A lower proportion (63%) look at the organisation’s social media channels, while 61% use online reviews on sites like Glassdoor to help them make an assessment. Interestingly, around a third (34%) of respondents say they try to contact current or former employees to get inside information on the company.

To apply or not to apply?

Of course, not all candidates who read a job ad apply for the position. So, what are the factors that lead them to reject the opportunity? 
For our survey respondents, the most important filter is qualifications. More than six in 10 (61%) say they don’t apply for a position if they feel over- or under-qualified for the role. 
The second most important factor is accuracy of the job ad. Close to half (46%) of our respondents say they wouldn’t apply for a position if the job ad continued mistakes or inconsistencies. 
Other criteria include job location (a determining factor for 41% of respondents), outdated advertisement (36%), poor company reputation (35%) and inadequate salary/benefits (33%). Recruiters and hiring managers should note that a full 31% of respondents say they wouldn’t apply for a position if it involved filling out long forms.

Using job ads for benchmarking

Not all candidates read job advertisements because they’re interested in applying for the position. Some simply use the information to benchmark the salary and job description of the advertised role against their own terms of employment. However, only 16% of those surveyed say they use job ads to benchmark regularly (at least once a year), while 23% do it every 2-3 years. A large majority (61%) of respondents say they never use job ads for benchmarking.

Key learnings for recruiters 

Hiring managers and talent acquisition teams can learn the following from our survey data:
•    Job location is a key piece of information for candidates and should be prominently displayed in the ad.
•    Candidates like job ads that are comprehensive and professional in both form and content. You risk missing out on top candidates if your ads are difficult to read or contain inconsistent information.
•    E-reputation and employer branding are vital! Before they apply, candidates will assess you and your company culture based on your corporate website, social media channels and employee review sites.

Towards a better candidate experience

Michael Page is committed to providing candidates with the best possible experience, for the benefit of both job seekers and employers. Our recruiters can connect you with top talent in your industry and location, so if you’re looking to hire, contact us today. If you’re looking for a job – and a great candidate experience! – please visit our job search board.