Online Recruitment Advertising for the Best Talent

Any job posting can (and will) attract active job seekers, but only a very special listing will engage and sell the passive “A” and “B” level performers that employers and recruiters most want to recruit. Why is that so? Because top talent is unlike any other talent.

The best and brightest:

  • are almost always employed, so you have to convince them to go from the devil they know (their current employer) to the devil they don’t (your employer). To do that, you must get rid of generic ad content and highlight the factors that matter most to them.
  • have the attention span of a gnat, so you have to sell them hard and fast. You must identify your employer’s competitive advantages and then build your ad to lead with those factors and fully describe them.
  • never look for a job, but instead, search for a career advancement opportunity. That means your ad must promote the special attributes of your employer and its workers as much as the challenge of the opening, itself.
  • are often Boolean illiterate, because they seldom have much experience searching for a job online. To be effective, therefore, your ad must compensate for that deficiency by removing the impediments to finding it in a job database.

What follows are some tips to help ensure that your online recruitment advertising works with the top talent who aren’t looking for a job.

To get them to change devils

Effective job postings are not classified ads. They cannot be constructed as simple employment notices. If you want your posting to influence passive prospects, it must function as an electronic sales brochure—a listing that has enough selling power to convince people to do the one thing they most hate to do: change.

That selling power comes from knowing what matters most to your prospective customers. What factors will overcome their natural lethargy and their fear of the unfamiliar (or barely familiar)? Recruiters cannot intuitively determine those factors, and hiring managers, despite what they might think, are often in the dark, as well. The only people who can tell you what matters most to a top performer is another top performer in the career field for which you are recruiting. That doesn’t mean you have to go out and canvass the workforce, but it does mean that you must do some research internally. The next time a hiring manager or employer client asks you to write a posting for a new opening, tell them that you’d like to speak with the top performers who are working in the same or a similar position right now. Then, ask those individuals what convinced them to say “Yes” to the organization’s offer and emphasize those points both in the title and throughout the body of your job posting.

To sell them hard and fast

The best talent is impatient and not easily impressed. They are contacted by recruiters all of the time; offers come to them, so going to a job board or an employer’s site to read a recruitment ad often makes them feel slightly out of place and even uncomfortable. To overcome that unease, a job posting must pack a lot of power into its first five lines. That’s all the space and time it has to connect with and capture the attention of the passive “A” or “B” level performer. If the first five lines can’t do that, it’s unlikely that prospects will read any further.

What must the first five lines include? Four factors:

  • A powerful, compelling statement about why the opening is a dream job.
  • An equally powerful and compelling statement about why the organization is a dream employer.
  • A statement about the compensation being offered, expressed in numbers. A salary range will normally work, but such thread-bare phrases as “competitive” and “commensurate with experience” will not.
  • A hard-hitting statement about your organization’s commitment to protecting the privacy of its applicants (assuming that’s true).

To present a career advancement opportunity

The best talent is just as concerned as the employer about an opening’s requirements and responsibilities. However, they see these factors from their unique perspective. To them, the issue is not what they would be responsible for, but rather:

  • What would they get to do?
  • What would they get to learn?
  • What would they get to achieve?
  • Whom would they get to work with?
    Similarly, they don’t see the issue as what requirements they must fulfill, but rather:
  • What experience must they have had to be able to excel at the new job?
  • What expertise will enable them to continue to be a top performer for their new employer?

An effective job posting takes the same information that employers typically provide in their classified ads and expresses it in a way that connects it to the individual’s career concerns and aspirations. It changes the focus of the content from what the employer wants to what job seekers (and “A” or “B” level performers) want to know.

To overcome their Boolean illiteracy

Most passive “A” and “B” level performers are inexperienced job seekers. They don’t spend much time searching through job databases. The risk is high, therefore, that they will overlook many of the opportunities for which they are qualified. To make sure that doesn’t happen to your job posting, give prospects specific directions to its location in a job database.

How can you do that? Ironically, for passive job seekers, the most effective method is often a print classified ad. This ad should have several parts:

  • A statement that highlights the key motivating factor(s) you identified when talking to the top performers in your or your client’s organization.
  • A call to action that urges them to read and consider your employment opportunity right away.
  • A set of directions to your posting’s location online. For example, “To learn more about this extraordinary opportunity, visit (the job board where you posted the ad) and enter APM1234 in the job database.”

Using a unique alphanumeric for each of your openings has two advantages: First, it eliminates all of the top performer’s angst about searching a job database. They no longer have to think up keywords to find a position that’s of interest to them. Second, it eliminates all of the competition in the database. When the job seeker enters the alphanumeric, only a single ad matches it and comes back … yours.

There are no simple solutions when it comes to sourcing passive “A” and “B” level performers, but the tips above will certainly maximize your return on the Internet and thereby give you a head start.

The above articles are reprinted with permission from WEDDLE’s LLC. © Copyright 2005. All Rights Reserved.

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