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5 Ways to Attract Candidates

I hate to be that person, but I just can’t take it any longer. We need to talk about the giant elephant in the room.



The elephant in the shape of inbound job advertising methods. The elephant that most recruiters would be happy to scoot around for the foreseeable future. And the elephant that really doesn’t need to be there in the first place.

Unfortunately, many recruiters seem to harbour the expectation that candidates will automatically want to work for their company, even though those very recruiters haven’t given them any reason to want to work there at any point in the job ad they’ve put out there. The attitude seems to be, ‘A job is a job. If they’re looking for that type of career, they’ll apply’. Well they’re wrong. Very wrong. Recruitment is a two-way street. In order to expect candidates to sell their skills and abilities to you, you need to sell your vacancy to them. And when we say sell, we mean sell. If you’re looking to hire the best, you need to attract the best.

But just how do you go about doing so and an effective and successful way?

Well,  what if we looked outside of the world of recruitment for a second and started to notice all of the amazing candidate attraction methods that are hidden all around us? What if we stopped for a second and took a look at what supermarkets, chocolate bar manufacturers, BMX bikes, rainforests and football can teach us about candidate attraction?


Just hear me out!

1. Supermarkets
Supermarket giants like Tesco and Asda have a cunning little trick up their sleeve. They know that you and I are in need of bread and milk when we enter through they’re doors and we won’t leave until we get it. But instead of just displaying the bread and milk front and center where we can pick it up and leave the shop just as quickly as we came in, the put the bread and milk essentials at the back of the store. Past the fizzy drinks, past the crisps and past the oh-so-cravable chocolate aisle. Essentially, they’re making sure that neither you nor I leave that shop with just the bread and milk in our baskets, we’re leaving with a shedload of low value goodies too.

So what can we as recruiters take from this? Well, I’m here to propose that from now on you think of your content as bread and milk. Your content is what the consumer wants when they come to your website and they’ll get it no matter what. What we need to do is ensure that surrounding that bread and milk content are interesting and relevant job ads that will prompt the reader to click. A simple call to action like “Would you like to learn more?” at the end of a piece of content will even work wonders.

Candidates both active and passive will come for content and leave as engaged visitors.

2. Chocolate Bars
Chocolate. Even the sound of it sends me weak at the knees. My favourite bar is Terry’s Chocolate Orange (you can send some in the post if you wish). When I think of the dark blue silkiness of that wrapper with just the hint of green and orange I can already taste the orangey deliciousness of the creamy chocolate and see the five pieces layered on top of one another ready to be broken free and consumed. I digress. What I’m trying to say is that when writing job ads we recruiters need to write them as if we were creating the front of a chocolate wrapper. It needs to entice and allure potential candidates. Instead, what we tend to do is write the back of the chocolate bar. We laden our job ads with too much text, shove in a few dozen facts and figures and top it all off with a dollop of unimaginative language.

Take it from me, imagery and colour works when it comes to job ads and if you won’t take it from me, take it from Vend, the point of sale, inventory and customer loyalty software company that like to do job ads a little bit differently:




In each case, Vend took a photo of their handwritten job ad and placed them on social media. Within days they went viral. The ads’ creative nature and delightful execution appealed to the nature of social media interaction and hundreds of excited candidates rushed to apply for each of the jobs. Read: Take a risk, it might just be worth it.

3. BMX Bikes
Before I go on, I’m going to ask you to take an audio-visual break and watch this video:

As you saw, creativity makes all the difference. Better language, clever text, humour, passion and honesty will always sell a product, the same can be said for a job opening. People respond to inspirational, well written job ads and smarter people will always apply for smartly written job ads.

4. Rainforests
So by rain forests I mean the Amazon and by Amazon I mean the ecommerce giant that is (so I cheated, whatever!). Amazon were the first ecommerce  company to actively encourage and capture impulse purchases and they did that by adding a “Buy in 1 Click” button to their site. Amazon recognised that having to enter shipping and credit card information for every purchase was becoming a barrier to sale and solved the problem by giving returning customers the option to add any item to their online shopping cart and buy that item immediately by keeping a record of their details and populating the fields for their customers, making payment quick, easy and painless.

Your job ads should also be low friction. Try adding an “Apply with LinkedIn” button to your ads or just simply asking candidates for their email address as application, as a recruiter you should be using Rapportive which means that just a candidates email will reveal everything you need to know about them socially on the web.

5. Football
The author of “To Sell is Human”, Dan Pink, says “Everyone is in Sales”. At Social Talent, we believe “Everyone is a Recruiter”. Harping back to our blog post last week, in which we discussed the benefits of encouraging your staff to share their company experiences online, we propose that your staff are the best placed people in your organisation to actively drive candidate attraction. Google have championed this better than any other company, and recently reclaimed the top spot on LinkedIn’s Top 100 Most In-demand Employers list for 2013. Oracle are fan of the strategy also, their staff frequently post pictures of staff football games (hence the reference) on various social media accounts for the world to see and comment on. And my does the world comment and get involved!

Potential candidates will trust current employees thoughts and opinions about the company they’re working for. After all, they are the ones on the ground floor of the business living and breathing it’s atmosphere everyday. So encourage your staff to tweet, Facebook, Tumblr and LinkedIn about their experiences with your company on a regular basis. Urge them to be normal, be truthful and be authentic. Let them inform potential candidates about what working life in this organisation is all about and motivate them to answer any queries potential candidates may have.

We covered this in glorious technicolour in our webinar last week, ‘How to Attract the Best Candidates’ – watch it for yourself and let us know how you get on with your candidate attraction and job advertising efforts in the comments below.

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