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Why canít recruiters write good job copy?

Poor applicant response rates are the result of ineffective job briefs

Poor applicant response rates are the result of ineffective job briefs

Instead of lamenting the quality of applicant response, recruiters should take more care when advertising their vacancies

Recruiters who advertise ineffective job content deserve a poor applicant return.  There, I said it. 

As a marketing jobs board owner I feel privileged to work with some of the industry’s foremost recruiters, many of whom I consider friends.  But my relationship with them continues to be tested by the contempt often shown for both their intended candidates and the clients by whom they are commissioned. 

Why do so few recruiters care about their job advertisements?

Inherently gregarious by nature, many recruiters are distinctly apathetic when it comes to online talent-attraction.  And this is not to isolate staffing agencies particularly, because direct hirers are just as guilty.

Compelling copy

Writing a job specification isn’t difficult; I know because I spent eight years doing it.  Having worked in two competitive sectors – IT and marketing – it always occurred to me that standing out from the crowd was more about quality then quantity, which is why I would work on fewer roles than my compatriots but, proportionately, my application-to-placement ratio was higher.  When I posted a job I ensured the content was relevant and engaging, informing the reader what the role was about, and, crucially, their suitability to it.  Obvious right?

Ask a recruiter what causes them the biggest daily headache and the response will be the same: too many inappropriate applications.  Why, then, do they continue to post job copy which loosely translates to: “My client may be looking for you but I’m not entirely sure so why not send your CV in?  I’ll take a look at it before deciding you’re not suited, after which I’ll be annoyed you sent it in the first place, so won’t get back to you.”

Time management

No doubt recent economic challenges have put pressure on recruiters to justify time away from the desk, but when I prospected companies my primary objective was – as it is now – to meet them.  Not only, as it turned out, was this my USP (surprisingly few agencies met their clients) but face-to-face interaction with the hiring manager afforded  significant scope for enquiry, something unachievable from a telephone conversation.  And meeting a client onsite meant I could take a tour of the environment, understanding more about cultural fit, as well general competence.

I understand time-constraints sometimes mean a meeting is unachievable.  So why not round up the key protagonists and set up a conference call, instead?  The HR manager may not know the absolute duties of the position, whereas a current incumbent will.  The hiring manager may not understand the benefits package, but this is HRs territory.  When you ask a jobseeker to apply for a role you are actually inviting them to consider what is often a life-changing experience.  You owe it to them to provide the details.

Often I witness job copy of such meagreness it’s as though the information has been cobbled together via two plastic cups and a piece of string.  Recruitment has long-since suffered from agnosticism but when presented with job content devoid of even the basic information, it accentuates belief that, despite undoubted better practice in an evolving industry, there is still work to do.

Technological mismatch

Multi-posting technology has revolutionised the way job briefs are dispensed across media platforms and, with it, returned huge vacuums of time previously lost to those responsible for placing the ads.  Whilst in the main any administrative time-saving process is welcome, if the same shoddy job spec turns up across the net, this merely serves to compound the problem.  An applicant finding a poor job brief on one site is bad enough.  But multiple sites?  What does this say about the hiring company and the agency advertising it?

No more excuses

I’m sick of hearing that job boards don’t deliver.  If recruiters want better results from their online advertising they need to get serious about their role in the hiring process and take more pride in their job briefs.  “But it’s all my client gave me,” they retort, as some sort of flimsy excuse for not bothering to ask more questions.  It cannot continue.

Recruiters are not copywriters.  I get that.  But in an evolving industry, where pressures for disintermediation increase, recruiters owe it to their clients – as well as themselves – to promote them as best they can.  Attracting the best candidates through compelling copy is essential. 

And, anyway, that’s the job, isn’t it?

Simon Lewis | Editor | Only Marketing Jobs