Chuck out some recruitment chintz (please)

The Candidate Experience begins with the application. From the first click on the ‘apply here’ button you are building a relationship, building dialogue. But before someone takes the step from casual browsing to becoming a candidate, they have to be engaged by the organisation, the opportunity, the advertisement itself.  They have to be inspired to take the action to get into the process.

I recently came across a truly awful job advert. I wanted to ring up the recruiter and shout at them.  Tell them that if you want to hire good people, attract talent for your place, that this was not the way to go about it.  Not today.  Not ever probably.

It started with one of my pet hates.

Interviews will take place on the 20th November. 

So if that top notch candidate that happens to have all of the experience and all of the skills, but just happens to be on holiday, out of the country, committed to something they just can’t shift, then you are happy to miss out? This sort of recruitment is all about the company and the hiring manager, with sod all concern for the candidate and their commitments, their existing job.

And then another one.

We will not accept any applications after the cut-off date.

Another reason to miss out on some top talent? They see your advert a little too late, but they are still interested in your place.  But you point to your recruitment and selection policy.  Process says no.

Followed by this: Candidates should apply as soon as possible as posts will be closed once sufficient applications are received.

Right then. So when you have reached some golden number, you are just going to close it then to any other potential talent.  Jolly good.

Then there was this: In order to minimise delays in the recruitment process please ensure your application is submitted with a valid email address for your referees, one of whom must be your current or most recent line manager. We will seek references prior to interview.

Okaaayyy. So I’m job hunting, which is probably like, you know, sensitive and confidential.  Likelihood of me asking my current line manager if she will be a referee for me for as I am thinking about leaving?  Approximately nil.

It is important to note, that all of this information was on the advert before the information about the role itself. I only carried on reading because I was already thinking about this blog post.  If I had been a candidate thinking about applying for the role I would have clicked off half way through the second paragraph.

And then there was this. Please note that we do not offer reimbursement of interview expenses.  I wasn’t going to ask to be honest.  Out of interest I asked our Recruitment Manager how many times a candidate had asked her for expenses during the last year.  The answer?  Once.  There is simply no need to include this on an advert.

The next bit was a three paragraph long information section that began….. Applications from job seekers who require Tier 2 sponsorship to work in the UK are welcome and will be considered alongside all other applications. However, non-EEA candidates (I couldn’t read any more of this section.  There could have been something more interesting further on. But I doubt it).

And naturally, there was a line saying that you could assume you haven’t been successful if you haven’t had a response within 14-days.  The application black hole, hated by all candidates.


Now, this job advert tells me plenty about the company. Probably things they hadn’t intended to tell me, but it told me all the same.  It tells me that they are all about the process.  It tells me that they are not flexible. It tells me that they don’t live in the real world.  And most importantly, if I had been thinking about working at this company, it tells me that I would never fit in there – which is a good thing to some extent as an application would have wasted everyone’s time.

I thought maybe this was just a poor example from a company that didn’t know any better. So I went off on a visit around a few job boards.  My conclusion is that it is a poor example, but it is far from the only one.

Here’s another example of excessively formal language and superfluous information. .

As a customer services officer you will require good communication skills, both written and verbal. You will investigate customer complaints, using both computer and paper files.

Did we really need the bits in italics?

I’ve heard all the stuff about the death of job boards and how in the war for talent it is all about the passive candidate.  But I still reckon we are going to be adverting jobs in one place or another for a little while yet.  The job ad is your shop window.  It is your chance to make a connection.  To begin the engagement.  To sell.  You, your place, what you have to offer.

We can do better than this.

When it comes to whether or not to put something in a recruitment advert, I’d suggest the following questions:

  • Do you need to say it now?
  • Do you need to say it to every candidate?
  • Do you need to say it at all, or is it blindingly obvious?
  • How would this make you feel if you were a potential applicant?
  • Does this sell the opportunity, does it sell your company and your culture?
  • Does the language talk to the reader like they are a real person, with a reasonable amount of common sense?

Maybe it is time to chuck out some recruitment chintz.

1 thought on “Chuck out some recruitment chintz (please)

  1. While I agree with pretty much every word in this, the only thing I’d defend slightly is the reference to Tier 2 sponsorship. Yes, it’s in the wrong place and it’s incredibly badly worded, but having recently tried to recruit a role where we had lots of candidates who would have needed a “work permit” – to use the old fashioned phrase – I do think that in the international social world you do need to make clear if you can or can’t accept candidates from certain countries.

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