The Best Fit
Improve your chances to find the right job candidate
By Ira Wolfe
Date Published: 5/1/2017

Finding enough qualified workers is keeping a lot of CEOs and recruiters up at night. The talent acquisition challenge is getting worse. Time to fill hovers around its all-time high. Attrition rates among top performers are climbing. And the universal consensus is that finding skilled workers is more difficult and getting worse. Frantically, many organizations keep stumbling over their own feet trying to fix recruitment. Management is getting impatient waiting for HR to find a solution. Recruiters and managers blame a weak labor pool. 

Despite the enormity of the challenge it’s not impossible to fill open positions quickly with top talent either. Many companies have proven it can be done. 

That forces one to ask: what strategies and tactics do some companies practice in the war for talent that others don’t? They ask: could it be that a poor response to our job postings isn’t due to a lack of talent but an inefficient and ineffective recruitment process? 

Sourcing candidates cannot be accomplished by trial and error. It’s simply too exhausting and expensive to just wing it anymore. Posting a job opening is no longer a copy-and-paste task. Each job posting must be a marketing event, much like a sales campaign. Job boards provide a good lead source but it’s the company’s responsibility to target the right segment and separate the wheat from the chaff. It’s perfectly clear many organizations aren’t very good at either function. In fact, once management begins to analyze its people data it becomes painfully evident that many of the recruitment problems that companies face can be traced to poor execution and not a weak labor pool. Good applicants exist. You just have to work harder and smarter to find them.

To fill the recruitment funnel with more qualified applicants and have a better yield of top talent, let’s begin our journey down the funnel at the top. 

Before you can get enough candidates to apply, enough eyeballs have to see your job posting. Surveys show that it takes up to nine candidate views to get one person to apply. If you’re not attracting enough qualified applicants, ask yourself: are enough people seeing my posting? Or are too many just swiping left (aka delete and move on)? 

Tip #1: There are many reasons why a job might not get enough views. Don’t limit yourself to using one source. Use a job search engine like Indeed along with job boards from local community colleges or state workforce agencies, Craig’s List, and social media. Of course, with multiple job sources you will likely receive more applications, many of them unqualified. To eliminate an email deluge and a lot of busy-work, applicant processing software can quickly filter out poor fit applicants and highlight the best ones. Another common reason for failure to get enough views is poor search engine optimization (SEO). Make sure your job title is a popular keyword that jobseekers use. Don’t get too cute. Job posting content must be search engine optimized (SEO) too. Each job post is a web page, just like the pages on your website. Without the right title, keywords, description, and content, your competitor’s jobs will be rank higher and your job opening will be buried on page 10. Whenever possible, include photos and videos. If competition is stiff in your industry or location for a particular job, sponsoring ads can boost response rates.

Let’s say that views aren’t the problem. Candidates see your job posting but don’t apply. 

Nearly three out of every four job candidates are passive. That means many of the skilled workers you want already have jobs. The first thing one of these passive candidates does is research your company. If they can’t find your company website and career page or your site needs an overhaul, you’re toast.

Tip #2: To get more candidates to apply, create a great first impression. Make sure your company website right down to your career page and application is mobile optimized. Top talent isn’t going to spend the time to “pinch and squeeze” your website pages on a mobile device in order to learn more about you. The content must be engaging too. Top talent has a choice. Even unqualified applicants don’t do boring. No one wants to read your stodgy, stuffy job description. They want to learn about what your company does, how it treats its customers and employees, what it’s like to work for you. Share photos of your facility and videos of happy employees. Highlight your successes and how you participate in your community. And if you’ve done your job and converted a visitor to an interested applicant, don’t play hide and seek with the apply button. 

What if your spiffy new mobile optimized website and career page don’t yield enough applicants? You might need to get creative.

Tip #3: Why not use the chat experience? Candidates viewing job postings are leads, just like customers and shoppers who visit your website. Adding chat to your website is inexpensive and easy to use. You can easily spread the workload around to different team members … and even employees who can share their work experience at your company. When you just can’t find time to chat, candidates can post their questions which are emailed immediately to recruiters. It’s a highly effective way to offer instant engagement and a significant competitive advantage too, particularly when so many HR departments still hide themselves in a bunker. Texting (SMS) is another popular way to engage candidates and capture their info too. If nothing else, post a phone number to your career page that applicants can call with questions. Alternatively, post a FAQ for candidates responding to the most commonly asked questions. It won’t be as effective as chat or text but for now, few organizations offer a career FAQ.

So what happens if you get enough views and engagement but not enough applications? Now it gets a little more interesting. 

Nine out of 10 Millennials and more than half of all applicants start a job search from a mobile device. To view your job posting, it must be mobile ready. What happens next is a real problem and the most likely cause of not getting enough applicants. When the applicant is ready to “buy,” the conventional process implodes. Requesting that a résumé be sent to is a bit like using a typewriter to send emails—don’t expect many replies. Being asked to download a pdf version of the application is even worse. What’s an applicant going to do with it—fax it back? And asking an applicant to complete a 50 question online application? Forget about it. 

Tip #4: Career pages need to be mobile optimized and so does the application. At minimum, candidates must be able to start an application right on their smartphone. But that just isn’t happening. The candidate abandonment rate for applications can be as high as 90% when the application is not mobile friendly. It is nearly 50% when the company requires more than 10 questions or takes more than five minutes to submit. That by no way means the application is complete but at least you requested enough information to make sure the candidate meets your minimum requirements. When he does, send an email or text to request the additional information you need. These can be automated and yet personalized. Thank the candidate for applying and include a link to your online application or schedule a phone screen. At that point, you’ve not only improved your apply rate but created an instant opportunity to engage. Now you have a much higher probability of getting the applicant to complete a lengthy application (if required) and/or submitting a résumé. 



1. To get more views, optimize your job postings and use multiple sources including social media.

2. Improve engagement with a great first impression. Use chat and text.

3. Make sure your career pages and application are mobile ready.

3. Use a screening application that is under 10 questions and takes under five minutes to complete.


Ira S. Wolfe is president of Success Performance Solutions, an employment testing and leadership assessment firm. He is also the author of Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization and Perfect Labor Storm.      

Perfect Labor Storm
Twitter @hireauthority


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