A job advert is the first touch point most job seekers will have with an employer. So, if your business is amongst the 73 percent of firms that have faced hiring difficulties over the last quarter, updating your job adverts to make them more attractive and inclusive could unlock the diverse talent pool you’ve been missing out on.
To reveal the most common ways job adverts turn candidates off – and how to fix them – here are the experts…
Tips from Khyati Sundaram, ethical hiring expert and CEO of Applied, and Molly Johnson-Jones, flexible work expert and Co-founder & CEO of Flexa.
Asking for “years of experience”
Many companies require that job candidates have a certain number of “years of experience” in order to apply for roles. But previous experience doesn’t guarantee talent.
Talented career switchers might never have worked in your company’s sector before, but have all the role-relevant transferable skills needed to succeed. Likewise, bright young graduates may not have had a chance to gain relevant experience yet, but could be a good fit for roles if given the chance. Removing experience criteria from job adverts could open the door to these applicants and more.
Instead, job adverts should focus on highlighting the core skills which applicants will need for the job at hand. This way, businesses can attract talent with fresh perspectives, ideas and ambitions, and assess the only true marker of performance: candidates’ role-relevant skills.
When job adverts describe a successful candidate’s ideal personality, they’re usually guilty of leaning into “culture-fit”. But hiring for a certain personality type perpetuates homogeneity, and stifles the creativity and innovation which comes with diverse teams. Research shows that using adjectives like “keen” and “energetic” on job adverts deters talented older workers in particular. These kinds of personality descriptors could also deter highly skilled introverted candidates.
Job adverts needn’t go into personality types at all. But they could outline the company’s core values instead, to attract candidates from diverse backgrounds who also share the wider team’s motivations and goals.
Not disclosing salaries
Not disclosing salaries on job adverts is a way for companies to offer different salaries to different people. But it’s also a surefire way to turn off talent and hamper company diversity and inclusion efforts. Job seekers want to know what salary they can expect upfront before investing time into the interview process, so leaving salary information off job descriptions may cause workers to steer clear.
More worryingly, not sharing salaries on job descriptions could also limit the number of women hired on teams. Female applicants who are less likely to self-promote, may be offered lower salaries than men who push for higher wages. As a result, female applicants may turn job down offers due to a lower than average salary.
Evidence shows that when job applicants are made aware of salaries upfront, women are able to negotiate salaries on a fairer basis. So, in order to encourage more applications and boost the number of women hired, it’s important to advertise salaries publicly. This will also be a powerful attraction tool for all candidates because it signals to job seekers that the company is genuinely committed to diversity and inclusivity.
Vague or fake flexibility
If your job advert features statements like “open to flexible working requests”, it’s time to update it. Of course, legislation brought in by the Flexible Working Bill will give all staff the right to request flexible working from their first day of employment. But job candidates will see through vague offers of flexibility from companies that don’t necessarily intend to accommodate these requests in a genuine way. Talent would far rather know exactly what kind of working set-up they can expect from roles before they apply.
At Flexa, we’re seeing huge demand for “remote-first” roles (whereby there may be office or co-working space available for staff to use, but there is no obligation to come in). In fact, our recent figures show that there are 305 candidates searching for every one “remote-first” role available. For companies struggling to recruit, it’s worth bearing this in mind. But since working preferences change and vary from worker to worker, employers’ best bet is to be transparent on job adverts about their working environments – and in doing so attract specifically the applicants who will be able to thrive there.
The “we’re a family” line
Statements like “we are a family” or “work hard, play hard” often crop up on job adverts and are usually well intentioned. But, as well as not really having any meaning, they can imply an expectation that employees have an unhealthy level of commitment to work, and suggest that employers don’t promote work-life balance. And few job candidates will be willing to apply to roles where this is the case.
Company culture matters to job seekers. Specifically, company cultures appeal when they align with candidates’ working needs and preferences, prioritise employees’ mental and physical wellbeing, and encourage teams to connect. Even most remote-first fans will want opportunities to connect with colleagues in-person through team socials and away days. So ditch spiel that could be equated with toxic working cultures, and use job adverts to highlight any tangible health and wellbeing support, flexible working benefits and wider ‘work perks’ you have to offer talent instead.
By Khyati Sundaram, ethical hiring expert and CEO of Applied, and Molly Johnson-Jones, flexible work expert and Co-founder & CEO of Flexa.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.