Problem with Traditional Job Ads: People Don’t Apply Unless They’re 100% Qualified

We’ve all been in the position of a job seeker – hungry for experience and the comfort of a stable income. Applying to jobs is, with no doubt, a demanding activity. In order to not waste time and energy, we end up filtering out opportunities that we feel we are ‘unqualified’ for, leaving ourselves a limited amount of options to ultimately pursue. In the view of a recruiter, hiring someone who checks off every item on the list is most certainly ideal. But imagine all the diamonds in the rough that go unnoticed just because a candidate had three years of experience and not four, or was missing a skill that could be learned later while on-the-job.

“What held them back from applying was not a mistaken perception about themselves, but a mistaken perception about the hiring process.” (Harvard Business Review)

The barrier to applying has to do with believing that these job requirements are, well… real requirements needed for a candidate to even be considered for the role. In other words, the moment we find something about ourselves that falls off the benchmark, we give up and move on. To lose potential candidates over such reason just doesn’t make sense.

Fine-tuning Traditional Job Ads

It takes only seven seconds to make a first impression – about the same time it likely takes a candidate to scan a job posting. A job ad is fundamental for outlining the duties and requirements involved in a role, but being the first thing that most people come across while job hunting, the impression it leaves is crucial to whether they end up applying or not. No one wants to feel intimidated by a job before they’ve even had the chance to try it themselves. To write an effective, and, attractive job description, consider the following:

  • Be realistic with your expectations
  • Avoid “years of experience” unless necessary
  • Detail all the skills that would be useful for the role, rather required
  • Focus on the temperaments that best fit the position (e.g. We’re looking for someone who is competitive and group-oriented)
  • Culture-fit is just as important nowadays; highlight your company’s mission, vision, and values

Who Are You Targeting?

There’s one other thing we must all keep in mind when writing a job post – the audience you’re speaking to. The 2020 workforce is taken over by Millennials and Gen Z, both of which have expectations far different from what their predecessors desired a decade ago. Today’s young talents evaluate companies based on how they present themselves, whether it’s through their brand image or the culture they advertise. Rigid job descriptions, as a result, are a big turn off.

We’ve normalized ‘unrealistic’ job requirements for years, and it’s now backfiring on the hiring market. If we continue to go strictly by-the-book, the chances of finding the best-fits will only dim. Seeing how we’ve all once been a job seeker, let’s use empathy and understanding to form our hiring strategy.