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The Ultimate Guide to Online Job Advertising (Part 1)

Most conversations involving Analytics amongst recruiters either involve those in the Social Media camp who talk about the ROI of LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook or those in the “Old School” camp who talk about Outbound Sales Calls, CV sends and Interviews. In both cases, most in our industry overlook what I believe to be one of the most important statistics that all recruiters should be examining: candidate attraction and conversion. This is what advertising and marketing folk in nearly every other industry look at – how many people saw our ad and how many of those purchased. In recruitment terms this is the number of people who read your job spec and the number who subsequently apply for the job or get in touch. Do you have these stats for every job you advertise and if so, what are you doing with the information?

I spend most of my time teaching recruiters how to source candidates directly and how to perfect their approach techniques but I refuse to teach this without firstly examining their candidate attraction techniques. Yes, you can theoretically source any candidate you need without advertising, but why work so hard when people do still look for and apply for jobs? OK, so it’s unlikely that your advertising efforts will be enough to fill all of your vacancies but it would be remiss of any recruiter to overlook these potential “easy wins”. Wouldn’t it be great if the perfect candidate “landed on your lap” this morning?

This used to happen in the “good old days” but just because job advertising has become less successful doesn’t mean it does not work. Too often we think in black and white, either advertising to fill every job or trying to source directly for every job. What is required is a blended approach, whereby you are doing your best to attract talent using all means available, within your own budget and time constraints. To be really successful at this, you need to approach it from a scientific point of view, testing and examining the data to determine what works best and gives you the required outcome.

Here’s how I would recommend you approach it:

Eyeballs on your Job AdvertisementsPart 1. Eyeballs

The first challenge is to be found and to be noticed. Most of us advertise our vacancies in two places: our own website/ careers site and job boards. Job seekers will either go straight to a site that they have brand recognition with or they’ll seek you out in search engines. In a typical month, over 226 million people search for Jobs on Google and end up either on a jobs board or your own web-site. You have an equal chance of getting to page 1 on search engines as the big job boards as long as you practice these rules:

A: Know what your target market are going to be looking for.

It is unlikely that a Software Developer will search for “Technical Java Architect” jobs or similar, niche titles. They are more likely to search both job boards and search engines for generic categories such as “IT Jobs”, “Developer Jobs” or “Java Jobs”. Many will add a location component such as county, city or country but increasingly (according to Google’s own stats), they seem to be leaving the location out and instead rely on Google to know where in the world they are and promote local results. I suspect that most job seekers then filter and refine their search on the pages they land on.

Don’t take my word for it though, check out Google Adwords and test your assumptions by using the Keyword Tool to estimate traffic for the top search terms you suspect that your candidates will use to find your jobs. Adwords will also suggest similar search phrases and show you the average monthly searches for these related terms. Build a keyword library of the top search terms to include in your job titles and job descriptions. (Adwords is a free product to use but you will need a Google/ Gmail account if you don’t already own one. Sign up at

Keywords are key for SEO

B: Ensure you SEO your own website

On your own site, ensure that the url address and page title of your vacancy posting contains your top keywords, along with the words “job”,  “jobs” or “careers” (depending on what receives the most hits according to Google’s data). Depending on your website settings, you may not have control of this so check the url and title to see if any fields from your recruitment database or job posting system are automatically copied to the URL and title. Manipulate the fields that you find are being copied and ensure that your SEO text is included in these fields (usually job title and location). If your careers site does not copy this info to your url and title automatically, get it fixed!!! It’s usually a simple matter of creating a small piece of script between your website and your database. For job boards, check the url’s and titles to figure out what text fields they are copying and manipulate these accordingly when posting your jobs.

C: Populate your job spec with important keywords

Ensure that your job description is made up of around 5% of the keywords you have decided are most popular amongst your target job seeker audience. You cannot list these sequentially as search engines consider this spamming. Try to work them into the natural flow of your job description, repeating words like job, jobs, the job title and top skills as often as is reasonable but not more than 1 word in 20. To test how you are getting along, copy the entire job spec text (and preferably the rest of the text on the web page that you are publishing to) into Wordle which will show you graphically what the most repeated keywords in your job spec are. Your target words should appear as the largest words in this cloud. This is how search engines see your page and what they prioritse as your keywords. Try to ensure that your top keywords are closer to the top of the page as search engines tend to prioritse keywords towards in the first half of your spec.

D: Do not re-post job specs that may have already been posted online by someone else.

For agency recruiters this means EVERYTHING you are provided by your clients; for in-house recruiters, you need to write new job specs for each vacancy. Search engines can read and they know that your job spec is 80% similar to the next recruiters or one that you posted 2 years ago. Google, in particular, have gone to great pains to express ther distaste with copied content and they simply won’t index pages that are copies of other pages, even if you have modified the spec by 10-20%. Replacing a few words and re-jigging the paragraph order will not suffice. You need to re-write it. This is essential for SEO but even more important for conversion (more on this later).

E: Solicit click-throughs to your job posting from social networks.


Search engines promote content that has been clicked through to from very popular search engines. Half of the Top 10 websites in most of the Western world are social networks or social media sites: Google Plus, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogger and YouTube. Ensure that your original job postings are shared as your status on LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus, in Career Discussions on niche LinkedIn Groups (you can post to up to 50 Groups at a time with one click by using Hootsuite or better still, Bullhorn Reach) and on your company’s Facebook Page and/ or your own Timeline. Posting is not enough in its own right, you need different people to click the links so encourage your colleagues to do so on a daily or regular basis and return the favour. Google+ is a social network that few recruiters use but it is so important to share your content here and have other people “+1” it on your behalf. Make sure they are in your “Circles” and return the favor. Aside from the strong possibility that candidates may find these postings in these social networks, the act of someone clicking on your Google+ posting effects whether you appear on Page 1 of an unrelated person’s Google Job Search. Bizarre but true!

F: Add as many professionals within your target sectors in Google Circles as you can possibly lay your hands on.

Google is now integrating social search as a default within all search results so they need to know who your are connected to so that they can promote content you are sharing with them and their network of contacts. You may not like Google+ as a social network but you can use it to drive people to your job specs, whether that use Google+ or not. As long as they have ever signed up (and 100 million people have as of March 2012), your shared content may start appearing in their search results.

Follow these 6 steps, and you will have a much better chance of being found above your peers, but being found is only half the battle. You want CVs, not just page impressions.

Part 2 of the Ultimate Guide to Online Job Advertising is available by clicking here

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