The job market is more competitive than ever, meaning there’s a sea of qualified candidates out there. So why is it so hard to find them?

Times are tough for recruiters these days. You’re overworked, underpaid, and (worst of all) you’re left with the impossible task of trying to find candidates who don’t seem to exist.

Put the whole overworked, underpaid thing to one side for a moment. Focus on the candidates. The job market is full of them. In fact, it’s probably more diverse and fruitful than ever before. So why are you struggling to find even one who fits the job, time and time again?

Perhaps the job market isn’t to blame. Perhaps you (yes, YOU) are! You and your job postings.

Think about it. Lots of candidates are on the job hunt, so you can’t use the old “the market is dead” excuse. If you can’t use that one, what are you left with? Not a lot, apart from the job postings you use to attract candidates.

You might think the actual job descriptions matter very little when it comes to recruitment. But they’re actually more important than you could ever imagine. (I work for a jobs board and write these daily, so I should know!) Every posting acts as a shop window for the job, you as a recruiter and the employer, so it’s important you get them right first time.

In this instance, first impressions count for everything. Lots of jobs are available these days, so if a candidate doesn’t like the look of one position, they’ll just move on to the next without a second thought.

As a busy recruiter, I know you don’t have tons of time to craft the perfect description for each and every job. Still, it might be worthwhile to reassess your approach. After all (sorry to be harsh), whatever strategy you’re using obviously isn’t working very well.

So, just what are you doing wrong when it comes to your job postings?

1. Your job posting lacks “deal breaker” specifics

I realize that sometimes you don’t want to include an exact city or salary on the job posting to protect the identity of your client. But by failing to provide candidates with specifics, you’re only painting a very faint outline of the job that’s available. This leaves the job open to interpretation and means candidates are more likely to dismiss it and move on.

Think about it; some states and regions are pretty huge. To give candidates a better idea of where the job is, narrow down the location a bit. And saying a salary is “highly competitive” is pretty much the same as saying the salary is “?” Candidates want to have a rough idea of how much they’ll be paid or, chances are, they just won’t apply.

2. Your sloppy job posting misrepresents the company

When adding positions to job boards or your own site, you’re probably in a bit of a rush (especially if you have several to upload at once). So it’s easy to see why mistakes get made. But sloppy mistakes like spelling errors can be enough to put candidates off.

Candidates want to know they’re applying for a job with a reputable, professional company—not one whose job postings are littered with typos or misspellings. Take a few seconds to run the description through spell check and make sure it’s properly formatted. Like I said before, it’s all about making a good first impression.

3. Your job posting is too vague

You don’t want to list too much information regarding the job and its responsibilities; we get it. But sometimes, I’m sorry to say, you just don’t include enough!

Candidates aren’t psychic; they won’t apply for a job they can’t get a sense of from the job description. Try to list the key responsibilities of the job and ensure you make the aims of the role clear. Remember, details matter.

4. Your job posting makes the company sound boring

Take a look at your job postings and ask yourself if they’re inviting. If your answer is no, they probably lack personality. Candidates want to apply for a real company with a real personality where they will work with real people like themselves. Take time to get to know the company so you can write a unique description that effectively portrays the company’s character.

Although writing unique descriptions can be a pain, they can save you time and money in the long run.

5. The application process is too lengthy or complicated

We understand why application forms are used, but making candidates fill out lengthy questionnaires is only going to lead to more drop off and fewer applications. These days, candidates are busy people (some of them have full-time jobs already), so they don’t want to spend the best part of their free time filling in job application forms.

Consider removing the initial application form and asking candidates to apply with their resume or CV. Once you’ve narrowed down the pool, you can send the application form to candidates you’d like to advance to the next stage and go from there. They’ll be more likely to complete an online application at this second stage because they’re further along in the process.

Amy Edwards is the SEO and Content Manager at Bubble Jobs, a niche online jobs board for the digital industry. She regularly blogs about careers, jobs and career advice and the latest industry news from the digital, online marketing and SEO sectors and can be found on Twitter and Google+.


  1. Frank Wilcockson

    Another major group – usually the multinationals – cut and
    paste phrases from a master category guide and paste them into
    individual postings. So for seven jobs you receive about fifty pages of
    meaningless twaddle and definitely nothing to include any reason why any
    applicant should bother to apply, because nobody knows or cares.

    oh what a surprise: seven identical bland gobbledegook nonsense
    postings for different jobs in three specialist divisions for five
    totally different locations. Result – poor response. Conclusion: No
    qualified people in UK, must outsource and recruit agency staff.

    after a decade of incompetence, and trainee schemes cancelled as no one
    in house with time or knowledge to mentor. Recommendation: Outsource
    department, then division, eventually the whole bloody organisation, to
    Europe, South America and /or Asia.

    Recruitment Consultant then joins a Guardian protest in Trafalgar Square complaining about unemployment, particularly youth unemployment!

  2. 47YearBroncoFan

    Let’s turn the tables. Recruiters mislead candidates. They can be all nicey nicey to candidates, gush about one being “the perfect candidate” for the job, and then interview candidate. After the interview, candidate never hears again from recruiter.

    At the same time recruiters lie to candidates, are rude to them and renege on promises they make to candidates. I’ve had recruiters whom I’ve never met and with whom I’ve never had a relationship personally contact me off my online resumes, asking ME to help THEM find other candidates for positions WITHOUT asking me if I might be interested! One recruiter said I would be “paying it forward” if I helped her!

    So don’t tell me times are tough for recruiters. I could not care less.

Comments are closed.