Hays UK blog


What do workers want from today’s job adverts?

By Nigel Heap, Regional Managing Director, Hays

Competition for the best talent is intense, but our latest research in the Hays What Workers Want 2018 report shows that many employers are missing out on talent as a result of avoidable roadblocks in their application journey. 63% of candidates tell us they have at some time been deterred from completing job applications as a result of a negative experience with an employer’s application process – and in a competitive market for talent, this is something employers simply cannot afford to happen.

In our new report, based on a survey of over 14,600 professionals and employers, we look at the ideal applicant journey through four stages: Search, Apply, Decide and Join. Our report shows a sizeable gap between an employer’s perception of the quality of the applicant experience they provide, and the reality experienced by applicants.

One of the foundations of this application journey is the job advert itself, yet all too often these adverts are a weak point in the journey. Despite all the changes in technology in the recruitment industry, job adverts still have a vital role to play, and a poorly-constructed job advert can be hugely detrimental to your ability to attract and retain talent.

Our research shows that misleading job advert content is one of the most common reasons for employees to leave a job within the first 12 months, given as the reason a job didn’t meet expectations by 42% of respondents. Mismatched understanding around management expectations (34%), the culture of the organisation (33%) and salary and benefits being oversold (26%) were also frequent reasons for leaving, all of which could be addressed in part through more effective use of job adverts.

So, what do applicants want to see in a job advert?

Candidates want all the details before applying

Above all candidates are looking for a detailed role description. The vast majority (80%) want to know exactly what the job is before they consider applying, followed by 65% who say the most important criteria for them is the requirements for the role. It’s important therefore to provide sufficient detail on exactly what your vision is for this role, and the requirements for applicants. If this information is incomplete it can not only deter candidates from applying at all, but lead to recruiting applicants with mismatched expectations to yours, who may not stay long with your organisation.

Salary matters, but the job matters more

Interestingly, candidates place the detail of the job itself before salary information when looking at job adverts, although compensation information was still in the top three pieces of information expected in a job advert for 61% of candidates. Candidates are clearly taking a more pragmatic approach to their job search and looking at what the job offers, beyond the salary. However, salary is no doubt still very important, and provides a useful shorthand to the seniority of a role for candidates before applying.

Don’t forget the basics

When preparing your job adverts it’s also important to recognise that whether they are applying via a recruitment agency website, careers portal, job board, or social network candidates will be filtering their search results. The top two criteria for candidates to filter by when conducting a job search were location (80%) and salary (62%). However only 46% of employers always include salary information in job adverts, potentially missing out on candidates who will not consider applying without this information. It is important that this information is accurate and aids candidates in their search.

Your job advert may be the first thing an applicant sees, but the content you provide about your organisation needs to be consistent at every point. Ensure your recruiters and interviewers are able to talk about all aspects of the job description and advert.

Our What Workers Want report export examines the applicant journey from searching and applying for jobs through to interview, offer and on-boarding examining the common deal breakers for applicants at all points of the journey.

Join one of our events or webinars to find out more about our What Workers Want report.

About this author

Nigel is Regional Managing Director for Hays UK & Ireland and EMEA, and Chairman of Asia Pacific. He joined Hays UK in 1988 as a trainee consultant. By 1997, he was Managing Director of Hays Australia, and consequently expanded operations to New Zealand, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia. In 2006, he was appointed Managing Director of Asia Pacific. He became UK & Ireland Managing Director and Chairman of the Asia Pacific business in 2012. In 2018 Nigel was appointed Regional Managing Director for Hays UK & Ireland and EMEA, and retains his position as Chairman of Asia Pacific.


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