Recruiting Industry Advice (Noise) Isn’t Proven Guidance

Recruiting industry advice based on intuition and anecdotal evidence, not data, can make recruiters’ jobs harder, not easier.

Recruiting teams don’t have to look hard to find advice. It’s in recruiting industry news, on LinkedIn and other social media, and overflowing everyone’s email inboxes. In theory, that’s a good thing because it means recruiters have resources at their disposal. 

But in reality, all the recruiting industry advice flying around can turn into noise. That’s especially true when the advice is conflicting, which it often is because it’s based on intuition and anecdotal evidence, not real-world data. Or when it leads to inaccurate insights (e.g., not including no-hire requisitions in time to fill). At that point, it’s just making recruiters’ jobs harder, not easier.

ChatGPT (can’t) write your job posts

Let’s get this one out of the way first. Maybe you’ve read or even found that generative AI like ChatGPT can write job posts for you. Just plug in what you want, and watch it go.

Can ChatGPT really write job posts?

Actually, we tested generative AI for job ads in Datapeople, and it didn’t go very well. Generative AI doesn’t know how to write an inclusive, effective job post yet. It only knows how to mimic other job posts already published online. (That alone can hinder your hiring effort because your job post will sound just like every other one and won’t speak to anyone. Also known as the job post echo chamber.)

A platform like Datapeople combines millions of real-world job outcomes with data science and behavioral science. That’s how it can provide actionable guidance that teaches hiring teams how to write better job ads proven to attract more diverse, qualified candidate pools. Generative AI trained on general language is nowhere near that yet.

Data-informed takeaway: Use generative AI for first drafts of job posts, outreach emails, and social media posts if you want. But just for the first drafts. And use a tool like the Datapeople Anywhere browser extension as the final seal of approval before that draft goes live.

Job posts aren’t (are really) important in the scheme of things

Social media shares, impact descriptions, competency tests, and the like are not replacing job posts anytime soon. For one thing, a job post is the focal point of a communication network between job boards, employers, and job seekers. It’s where they all connect. For another thing, a job post has a measurable (and often overlooked) impact on hiring. 

Job posts are arguably the most important part of the recruiting process. Why? Because more often than not, the job post is the only piece of content a candidate sees before determining whether to apply. Get it right, and you’ll attract a larger, more qualified, and more diverse applicant pool. Get it wrong, and you’ll attract a smaller, less qualified, and less diverse applicant pool. It’s the difference between a successful hiring process and an unsuccessful one. 

Data-informed takeaway: Focus on getting the details right so you’re publishing inclusive, effective job posts. Not only are job posts really important, they can make or break your hiring effort.

Creative job titles (don’t) attract applicants

Who doesn’t want to see a catchy title in a job post? Job boards and job seekers, that’s who. Actually, it’s not that job seekers don’t like catchy titles, it’s just that those titles aren’t as visible on job boards. Also, they can be confusing (e.g., what exactly does an SEO Ninja do?).

Titles are search terms on job boards. Potential applicants use them to search for open roles, and job boards use them to provide search results. A cool-but-obscure or descriptive title can make your job less visible on job boards, hurting your entire recruiting effort. Even a less-than-optimal title can shrink your applicant pool.

Data-informed takeaway: Stick to the basics by using common titles that job seekers understand and search for on job boards. (Datapeople’s title guidance can help.)

Overqualified job titles are (not) more attractive to job seekers

The recruiting industry has turned to job title inflation as a way to, among other things, make jobs more attractive to potential candidates. As our R&D team and Business Insider have reported, the pandemic and Great Resignation seemed to have supercharged that trend. The problem is that title inflation can create a confidence gap and result in fewer qualified job seekers applying. 

We were curious about how overqualifying roles could impact applicant pools, so we analyzed financial analyst titles. Evidently, using the word “Senior” in the title of a job post is a great way to attract 29% fewer applicants, 39% fewer qualified applicants, and 27% fewer female applicants. (And that’s just the title.)

Data-informed takeaway: Refrain from inflating a job title as a way to make the job seem more appealing. You may create a source of confusion that results in smaller, less qualified applicant pools.

(Don’t) include soft skills

Soft skills like “work ethic” and “attention to detail” have been job post mainstays forever. A lot of time they get their own bullet list alongside responsibilities and requirements. But they shouldn’t.

Many in the recruiting industry swear by soft skills as a way to identify high performers, and we agree that they’re critical. But including them in job posts is too early in the hiring process. We regularly see them lengthen job posts unnecessarily, confuse job seekers, and deter qualified applicants. Luckily, our analysis of post-pandemic recruiting trends shows that soft skills in job posts are on the decline.

Data-informed takeaway: Assess soft skills when you can, of course. But leave them out of job posts and gauge them later in the interview and assessment processes.

Referrals can help with DEI (sort of)

Most applicants come from inbound sources like job boards, LinkedIn, and company career pages. Yet our data shows a heavy hiring bias towards candidates from outbound sources like referral programs. (In tech hiring, referred applicants are 18 times more likely to get hired than applicants from LinkedIn.) 

Generally speaking, referral programs aren’t the most inclusive way to hire because they require knowing someone at the company. They also tend to perpetuate homogenous cultures. 

Data-informed takeaway: Focus on inbound sources like job boards and LinkedIn, which provide an equal opportunity for all qualified job seekers with access to the internet. If inbound has historically been a noisy or ineffective channel for you, make sure your job posts are market-calibrated to attract more qualified applicants. (Datapeople can help.)

(Don’t) include “competitive salary”

No doubt you’re very familiar with using “competitive salary,” “pay based on experience,” or a similar phrase in job posts. For years, the recruiting industry has used these phrases to try to reassure job seekers without divulging specific salary numbers.

Unfortunately, “competitive salary” and similar terms signal “below-average” to many job seekers. In fact, today’s job seekers want to see a pay range included in job posts, and pay transparency laws in some jurisdictions are not only backing them up but requiring them. 

Data-informed takeaway: Replace wording like “competitive salary” or “pay based on experience” with an actual pay range, which is what today’s job seekers want to see anyway. 

Including years of experience in a job post is (not) exclusionary

It’s perfectly reasonable to wonder whether including years of experience in a job post could be ageist or just unnecessarily limiting. But after analyzing millions of job posts and their hiring outcomes, our view is that years of experience helps job seekers better understand the seniority level of a role and whether they qualify. It also provides clarity, which is always the goal with job posts. 

What we don’t recommend? Ranges (e.g., 2 to 4 years). Our research shows that while clearly stating the minimum experience required attracts a more qualified candidate pool, a “maximum” may confuse or deter qualified job seekers. If you’re concerned about receiving applications from candidates beyond your budget, see our guidance above on salary transparency.   

Data-informed takeaway: Using years of experience in job posts is perfectly fine, as long as it’s not a mechanism for skewing an applicant pool older – or younger (with an arbitrary range). 

Job posts aren’t are just as important as your careers page

Companies put a lot of resources into the content on their career pages, and they’re naturally eager to direct job seekers there. We see a lot of job posts where companies forego certain content like diversity statements in favor of links to their career pages.

However, there’s no guarantee that job seekers will take the extra step of going to your careers page (they’re busy, too). Again, your job post on LinkedIn may be the only piece of recruiting and brand messaging that a potential candidate sees while deciding whether to apply. (In fact, over 80% of all applicants in tech hiring come from inbound sources like LinkedIn.)

Data-informed takeaway: Assume that your job post is the only place you have to accurately (and concisely) describe your job, company, culture, benefits, commitment to diversity, and the rest. 

Datapeople cuts through the recruiting industry noise

It’s not that all recruiting industry advice is bunk. But without data backing it up, it’s just guesswork or based on too small a subset of data to matter (i.e., anecdotes or personal experience). Also, a lot of the articles out there are just borrowing ideas from other articles.

Over the years, we’ve analyzed millions of real-world jobs and their hiring outcomes from tens of thousands of employers. We combine this data with behavioral research, natural language processing (NLP), and responsibly used artificial intelligence (AI) in Datapeople. 

The result is recruiting intelligence and control that predictably helps you create effective, inclusive job posts that attract qualified, diverse applicant pools. It’s not advice based on intuition or anecdotal evidence – it’s proven guidance. With Datapeople, hiring teams don’t have to sort through conflicting advice because Datapeople cuts through it all.

If you’d like to learn more about Datapeople’s platform, we invite you to schedule a demo. You can also read how our customers like CodaTwitchSquareDoorDash, and Riot Games are using Datapeople to write inclusive, effective job ads.

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