How to Make Your Job Postings Searchable on Major Job Boards

With over millions of job searches each month on major job boards like Monster, Indeed, and Career Builder, are you doing enough to make sure your job posting stands out? When you think of Search Engine Optimization (or SEO), you probably think it pertains to online marketing and websites, right? You wouldn’t automatically associate it with job postings, but it’s just as important.

Here’s how you can better optimize your job postings for better search results in three simple ways:

Do Your Research (Keyword research, That is.)

When writing your title and job description, it’s important to pick phrases that are relevant to your job posting. Phrases that are too general come with more competition and put you at risk for showing up at the bottom of the results page or delivering unqualified candidates. For example, instead of using basic phrases like “customer service” you should specify “customer service manager,” “call center customer service representative,” or “medical customer service.” The goal is get as specific and relevant as you can to reach the most qualified audience (so you don’t have entry-level candidates applying for an upper level position).  If you’re stumped for keyword ideas, try out free keyword research tools like Google Adwords Keyword Tool to get keyword ideas.

Pick a Searchable Job Title.

When creating a job title, you want to choose something that is simple and concise. Be careful not to use this an opportunity to “sell” your posting or get creative (ex: “Top Performers Wanted!” “Rare Opportunity with Great Company!”) because that makes your posting potentially unsearchable. To better optimize your title, include the job description with career level or job type (part-time, full-time). including the acronym to a job title along with writing out the job itself is also important. For example, if you’re hiring for a Registered Nurse, write out “Registered Nurse (RN).” By doing this, you’ll likely catch people who are searching out both of those common phrases.

Optimize Your Job Description.

The job description is the meat and potatoes of your posting. A search engine populates the results of listings that have the most relevance and relevancy begins in the description of your job posting. So how can you accomplish this? Using the results from your keyword research, pick 3 phrases and use those throughout the copy in your description. By using your keywords frequently, your posting will become better optimized and likely to appear more often. It’s also important to note that while you want to be relevant, make sure you don’t over-stuff your description with keywords so frequent, it starts sounding unnatural.

Optimizing a job posting can be time consuming. If you need help with writing one or not sure which keywords are the best for your posting, you can always consult with your marketing department for optimization help. They’ll be your best resource for helping you craft a searchable and creative job posting.

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Top 5 Non-Traditional Interview Questions all Hiring Managers Should Ask

Ever hired someone only to realize six months later that not only were they mediocre (at best) in their job performance, but the complete opposite of what you expected them to be as workers and team players? Some applicants have almost “mastered” the interview process giving perfect, well-rehearsed answers to job-related questions to land the position, but no indication as to what they’ll really be like after accepting that offer of employment. Even though the some applicants are able to provide these almost perfect, well-rehearsed answers, hiring managers should be working to uncover some possible lacking qualities that are essential to most positions like: interpersonal skills, management style, honesty and integrity, and the ability to work with others.

So how can you learn more about your candidates during interviews?

When interviewing it’s important to have a mixture of traditional and non-traditional questions to give you a better snap-shot of skills, personality, and attitude. Here are the top 5 questions non-traditional questions you should ask during the interview process:

Question 1: What are the first three things you do when you get to work?

A candidate’s answer here will paint a better picture as to how organized they are and their work ethic.  While everyone handles their workday differently, you’re looking for indication that they can complete tasks at hand timely and efficiently. Inadvertently, this is also a good opportunity to learn more about their knowledge and skills related to the job.

Question 2: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

While not job-related, a question like this gives you the opportunity to learn things about a candidate’s personality that might not otherwise be revealed during the interview. A good candidate will take every question you ask seriously and answer to the best of their ability. You want someone that is easy to work with, so candidates who shrug the question off can signal a red flag.

How do you define success?

Hiring someone is a company investment, so this question will give you a better idea of who you should invest in. Goals and aspirations are important qualities to have in a candidate. Someone who visually lacks interest in their position doesn’t necessarily have goals lined out ahead of them, which could mean they are just looking for a job not a career (resulting in churn). Look for someone who has an idea of where they want to go with their job. However, keep in mind that there are individuals that love the industry they work in, so while they might not have a clear understanding of where they will be in five years, if they show passion in their answer and interest in learning new aspects of the business, that is a good thing and should be noted as positive.

How would you describe your personality?

Fan of the “strengths and weaknesses” question? This is another less obvious way to get a candidate to talk about their abilities, while learning more about their personalities. Perhaps they say they are really outgoing, but get discouraged easily. This answer could tell you that they are confident, but need more recognition. The more you know about their personality, the better you’ll be able to determine their fit within the team.

What kinds of people bother you?

Working well with others and part of a team is important in every organization. This question will give insight into just how well the applicant will fit into the team. While it’s perfectly OK to be honest and divulge some pet peeves, applicants who mention multiple traits that bother them, and those who say nothing (or nobody) bothers them – are both red flags and should be noted.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your questions. The goal isn’t to stump your applicants, but to get a better sense of who they are and the true fit they’d be for the position, and the company.

About ApplicantStack: Applicant stack is a leader in applicant tracking and recruiting software. Using our 30+ years combined experience in human resources, we’ve developed an efficient hiring software system that enables recruiters and mangers to attract top talent with ease, and manage all their applicant information in one place. Contact us today for a free demo or sign up for a free 30-day trial.

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New Feature Release! Custom Email Signatures

Now you can add a personalized touch to your emails by creating custom signatures with ApplicantStack’s top-rated applicant tracking software! With this new feature, users can choose to have their own signature with images as well as a system signature for the entire account.

How to set up custom email signatures: For individual users, create and edit your new signature by clicking on “My Account”. Or edit the system signature in the “edit settings” screen located under Setup.

When you send an email, you will see a signature box below the message text box, which will show you the signature that will be sent with the email(s).

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What Defines the “Best” in Applicant Tracking Software?

Best applicant tracking softwareWhen choosing software, many companies want to know – who’s the best? Unfortunately for the shopping end-user, all vendors claim to be the best so you’re left figuring out for yourself which system truly is the best.

Here’s what you should be looking for:

Efficiency.

When choosing a new applicant tracking software system, or evaluating your current one, efficiency is key. After all, software is developed to make your life easier – if it’s making your life harder, then it’s not fulfilling its end of the deal. Questions to ask yourself are:

1.)    Is your applicant tracking software fast or slow?

2.)    Are there frequent “time out” periods?

3.)    If there are technical issues, is technical support easily accessible or do you need to wait an entire business day for a response?

4.)    Is your applicant data accessible from anywhere?

5.)    Are you able to perform basic recruiting functions?

At ApplicantStack, we offer free trials that allow our future end-users see just how functional our software is for their company, and how it fulfills efficiency expectations. Although we don’t require contracts or long-term binding agreements, some vendors do, so look for trial opportunities before getting into any binding agreements.

Actual time-saving features.

Time and efficiency go hand in hand. If the applicant tracking software you choose isn’t efficient, its clearly not saving you any time. Aside from the efficiency questions stated above, its important to ask yourself these questions when determining if your applicant tracking software is truly saving you time:

1.)    Are features easy to use?

2.)    Are there frills and features that aren’t useful that are just making the system bloated and harder to use and navigate?

3.)    Does the software offer intuitive collaboration tools that makes communication with hiring managers more efficient?

4.)    Does the software enable me to communicate

Cost-effectiveness

Whether you’re a small business or large enterprise, cost is always a factor when choosing the right applicant tracking system. As a growing company, Applicant Tracking software is critical to ensuring you’re managing applicant data efficiently and safely, so it’s a good monthly investment to make. Make sure you ask yourself these questions:

1.)    Is this something I can afford?

2.)    Will I need budget approval for this?

3.)    How long will the budget be approved? Quarterly? Yearly?

4.)    Will rates ever change?

5.)    What are start-up costs?

6.)    Are there installation costs?

7.)    Are there any hidden fees?

ApplicantStack offers pricing starting as low as $65/month which is good for smaller companies with fewer recruiting initiatives, but we still stay very competitive as the plans grow for larger corporations. We are extremely transparent in our pricing and don’t charge start-up costs common in the industry.

Interested in a free demo or trial? Sign up for one today.

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How to Get The Most Out of Your Applicant Tracking System

hand point to social network icon computer roomLast week I wrote an article titled “Is Your Hiring Process Scaring People?” where I gave tips on how to improve the hiring process with the candidate experience in mind. Why is this important? The hiring process is a critical component to the overall reputation of the company, and most of all – your employment brand.

 

A good process is the result of good planning and efficiency, which can be achieved with the help of an applicant tracking system. Here are 3 ways you can improve the efficiency in your hiring process with the help of your applicant tracking software:

Take the time to customize screening questions unique for each department.

A good applicant tracking system should provide you with the option to tailor your online screening questions. Using department-customized screening questions instead of few one-size-fits-all set of questions will always save you time – trust me. By knowing what to ask the first time around, you avoid having to mark a large portion of your candidates “unqualified” during the interview process. Why waste everyone’s time? Take the time by sitting with hiring managers in each department and get a feel for what they need and what kinds of people they’re looking for. Ask what are the absolute basic core competencies critical to the overall success of a person/or position in that department. That way, when the time comes to post a job, you’ll be able to enter those online screening question in your applicant tracking software faster, and easier.

Gather feedback, efficiently.

Effectively collaborating with hiring managers and stakeholders is one of the most crucial steps in making sure your hiring process is as efficient as it can be. This is where the help of the right applicant tracking software comes in. Let’s be honest, people are busy, mangers are busy. When you have a candidate that comes in for a second or third interview, if you don’t use the collaboration tools in your applicant tracking software, you have to rely on the magical moment where all forces come together to discuss feedback. Each. And. Every. Time.

Simply not going to happen.

While a face-to-face meeting is likely to occur when deciding on a candidate, during the actual interview process it’s important to have one place to enter in feedback, notes, and reviews about individuals. Use the collaboration tool to do this. ApplicantStack even has a questionnaire option that allows you to create and collect feedback from managers and stakeholders quickly and easily.

Use the email response function in your applicant tracking software.

This is an important habit to get into. Communication is critical to your applicants, so it’s crucial that you respond in a timely and professional manner. Keep in mind – when applicants are likely to be interviewing elsewhere too, so making sure you keep in contact (especially with desirable candidates) is very important so you can be sure they don’t move on elsewhere. Good applicant tracking software will offer an automated emails feature that will save you tons of time, especially with pre-built templates and triggers.

Choosing the right applicant tracking software is a critical component to ensuring you’re efficient with your recruiting and hiring efforts. If you’ve never used an applicant tracking system or would like a personal demonstration of ApplicantStack’s applicant tracking software, sign up for a free demo with us!

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Is Your Hiring Process Scaring People?

hiring processOK, “scaring” might be a little intense, but some hiring processes aren’t that far off. With multiple interviews, lack of communication, and lengthy online applications processes – applicants will actually avoid filling out applications with companies if they’re too time consuming, cumbersome, or don’t receive a response within an appropriate time frame.

So why are these sloppy processes still common? Unfortunately, far too many recruiters and HR professionals alike think applicants will gladly endure the rigors of an intense hiring process if they truly want to work for their company. This can be a red-flag to applicants.

When you are evaluating your hiring process, keep these things in mind:

Keep applications short. Don’t make the mistake of “over-screening.”

If you were an applicant, would you honestly want to enter in over 5 pages worth of information, just to have the same questions asked of you in an interview? Be strategic when you’re asking your screening questions. List out a few critical qualifications that all applicants must meet before proceeding to an interview screening, but try not to use the online space to ask all of your questions. Having that human element in your screening process is beneficial to making sure you’re not weeding out potentially good candidates. Besides, the right questions will do its job and weed out unqualified applicants, without scaring off the good ones.

Redundant rounds of interviewing? Don’t do it.

It’s perfectly OK to have a candidate to come back for a second or third interview. But do not make the candidate come back a fourth or even fifth time if you can avoid it. Having the candidate come back multiple times (and worse, multiple days) only gives them the impression that you might not value their time. This gives the candidate a negative impression of the company, causing them to possibly retract their consideration, especially if they feel the company is being over-demanding. If you must have a series of individuals meet with your candidate, your best bet is to let your candidates know they will likely be at the company office all day for multiple interviews. By combining multiples interviews in to one day, it’s more efficient and decreases the overall length of the process.

Talk to your candidates.

The worst part of the interview process is the waiting period to see if the job will be offered or not. In some unfortunate cases, candidates can wait weeks before hiring managers come to a decision, and by that time it can be too late. It’s important to remember that candidates are likely interviewing elsewhere. If you wait a very long time before reaching out to extend an offer, or simply don’t keep them informed of what the next steps are – you can run the risk of losing them to another company. Unfortunately, in most cases, lack of communication is the result of time constraints. Despite communication and follow-up being a crucial step in the process, recruiters and HR departments find it difficult to follow up with each and every candidate – especially if they’re interviewing for other positions within the company.  A good solution would be to invest in an applicant tracking system. A good applicant tracking system will have communication and emailing features that lets you schedule and send automated emails to keep desired candidates in the loop.

As you settle on a hiring process that works best for your company, remember one critical thing: All applicants and candidates are either future employees, or future patrons. As a company, you always want to make sure you’re leaving the best impression for candidates and customers alike, as these are the people that will freely communicate experiences they’ve had with your company – good, or bad.

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How Technology Can Help You Improve Recruiting ROI

Since your website Home Page or Main menu navigation is a series of links or the doors to all the important areas of your company, can your visitors easily find what they are looking for?  Do you know who your visitors are and what pages they visit most often?

My experience as a seasoned Manager of Talent Acquisition, current Marketer of Applicant Tracking Systems and a former job seeker has made me very sensitive and observant when it comes to company Career pages.  Statistics tell us that a company Careers page is often the most visited, yet very often the hardest to navigate to—if it’s there at all!

Sometimes you’ll find the link in the upper right hand corner or at the very bottom of the main page in very small print, others are sub links under one of the main navigation tabs like About Us, Our History, Our Services, or Contact us,  that leads to a guessing game as to where links to employment opportunities might be found!  Maybe that’s the idea–make applicants open all navigation tabs before they find the right one?  Companies talk about how important their people are and what a great work environment and culture they offer, but put applicants through a scavenger hunt or guessing game to find the types of careers they offer or jobs they currently are looking to fill.  Did you ever wonder how many good applicants you lose by making them search too hard or go through too many clicks to review your jobs and apply?

In a market where qualified talent is difficult to attract and hire, and only 50% of applicants even meet the minimum requirements of your open positions, wouldn’t it make sense to let Careers/Jobs/Employment tabs have a more prominent place on your Website with only one click and no guessing?

For years HR consulting firms have analyzed recruiting processes and have come up with a theory called the “hiring funnel”—sound familiar?  This analysis assists recruiters and human resource managers to analyze how many total applicants they need to attract to make a “single” hire.

For example, they estimate that for one online job posting possibly 1,000 individuals will see the job, this is assuming, of course, that they can navigate your website to find it.

hire_funnel

  • 1000 individuals may visit your career page or view the job
  • Maybe 20% or approximately 200 of these individuals will begin your application process
  • 100 might complete the application process
  • 75 of the 100 will actually be viewed and screened by either an Applicant Tracking System or Recruiter
  • 25 of those may also be reviewed and/or phone screened by the hiring manager
  • 4-6 individuals from this group will be invited for a face-to-face interview
                • 1-3 individuals might be invited back for a second interview
  • 1 individual will be offered a job and an even more astonishing statistic only 80% of individuals offered a job will accept the offer

Do you get the picture?

Even with all the recruiter’s best efforts and due diligence, up to 50% of recruiting efforts may result in failure because offers are rejected, new hires may quit or be terminated in less than 1 year and the “Hiring Funnel” starts all over again.

What other process in your company is allowed to operate with such a high level of failure and rework? 

Technology isn’t the only solution but there are several ways to leverage your applicant tracking system to improve the success rate of your recruiting efforts.

  • Improve or refresh outdated job descriptions before posting jobs
  • Prominently display your Careers or Employment link on your Website Home page to increase your “hiring funnel”
  • Use a branded careers page hosted by your Applicant Tracking vendor that is easily linked to your website Career tab, rather than rely on your webmaster to add every new job that becomes available to your website
  • Improve the Applicant experience by not only making open jobs easy to find but shorten the time it takes to apply to your positions.  Make it easy to upload resumes, cover letters and additional documents your position may require up front and send a link to your online application later in your recruiting process.  Candidates may be more willing to complete the application once they know you are interested in them.
  • Make sure your applicant tracking system includes the functionality to create and utilize job specific re-screening questions with scoring capability which shortens the recruiter’s and hiring manager’s review process and frees up the time to focus on the best qualified candidates
  • Utilize triggered emails to communicate more effectively with candidates and managers to ensure you aren’t losing good candidates because of long review times and poor communications

As you can see, using an applicant tracking system to manage your process while keeping job postings prominent and searchable are essential to good success rates.

What other efforts are you putting in place to improve your recruiting ROI?

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Has Recruiting & Human Resources Become Marketing Functions?

While its true marketing, human resources, and recruiting have different targets – their overall goals are the same: Attract. Retain. Grow.

Now more than ever, companies are focused on hiring key talent and realizing that just sifting through social channels and job boards will soon not be enough on their own. As competition for talent increases, strategic companies are focusing on developing employment branding strategies to help take their workforce to the next level.

What is “employment branding”?

Employment branding is not a fad, trend, or buzzword. It’s a something that drives what kind of applicants you attract – and ultimately who clicks that little “apply now” button on your job postings. A good employment branding strategy will not only save you time by cutting back on the number of unqualified (and in some cases, unwanted) applicants, it will strengthen your company image in the eyes of applicants and position you as a great place to work (this is important as attracting and retaining top talent forecasted to become more competitive in the near future).

Sounds good right?

Of course it does, but getting there isn’t as easy. Here’s the issue with employment branding: it’s a shift in thinking – destroying department silos, forcing managers and directors of marketing and human resources to work together under similar strategic goals. These kinds of changes aren’t always welcomed, but when they are – the results have a very big impact.

Building an Effective Employment Branding Strategy.

Whether you’re a growing small to mid-sized company or large organization – recruiting, human resources, and marketing are all functions essential to the success of your business. These functions sculpt the business, increases profitability and fosters growth.

Here’s how human resource professionals and recruiters can start developing an employment branding strategy:

Have a marketing mindset. Start developing applicant personas. By segmenting and understanding individual wants and needs, you can better develop targeted employee value propositions. Create different messaging in job descriptions that will resonate with individuals with different skill-sets. Also, get rid of the one-size-fits-all career page and messaging – especially if you’re hiring for a variety of roles in different capacities. Promoting company details like culture, perks, work-life balance, and telecommuting are all options to include in job descriptions and company career pages.

 Have a goal. What are you trying to accomplish? Think about that. Well defined goals are critical to the success of your employment branding strategy. Without one, you’re like one of those sticky hands you get from the gumball machine – you know, the ones that you fling as hard as you can and wherever it sticks, it sticks? You don’t want that. Don’t execute activities and just hope for the best. Goals keep efforts aligned and on course for the same overall purpose.

Communicate Effectively. Job descriptions, copy on career site pages, even social media messages are examples of areas that need to be written with employment brand goals in mind. General and broad messaging attract resumes from serious, to not-so-serious applicants which wastes time, effort, and resources. The more specific and tailored you can be on your job description, company culture (keeping in mind your segments) you’re likely to attract quality candidates that are right for your company, which in turn increases employee retention.

 Build an employment brand that continues to sell. Traditional marketing channels are not off-limits. Use digital channels and get creative on how they can support your brand. For example, using video to illustrate company culture will resonates more and is search friendly. Whatever the channel, using marketing tactics, channels, and resources will be your friend when attracting top talent.

Stay Organized. If you haven’t invested in an applicant tracking system, now is the time. A good employment branding strategy will substantially increase the number of applicants you receive, so an ATS system is crucial to making sure you’re managing all your applicant information, communications with hiring managers, and messages – all in one place. If you’re not familiar with applicant tracking systems you can sign up for a free trial with ApplicantStack here or schedule a live demo with us. Applicant tracking systems can dramatically increase applicant process efficiency, leaving applicants remembering your company as organized, professional, and courteous.

Analyze & Measure. This is another area your applicant tracking system (ATS) can help. Run reports on the success of your efforts and put data insights into action. Are you getting a lot of applications but none that don’t fit the requirements you’re looking for? If so, perhaps you’re being too general with your messaging or aren’t asking the right screening questions. These are things an ATS can help you execute in a fraction of the time.

If nothing else, remember that your employer brand should be communicating to the world that your company is a “great place to work.” Employment branding isn’t something that happens overnight and requires the collaborative work of human resources, recruiting, and marketing to attract a winning workforce.

How are you developing your employment branding strategy in 2014?

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Questionnaire Email Actions Now Available

Questionnaire Email Actions provide your ApplicantStack questionnaires with added functionality allowing you to add an email action to a questionnaire. This action will send an email upon submission of the questionnaire. For example you can add this action to your Application for Employment and it will send an email template that you choose to any of the applicant’s references upon submission. You can use this feature to email referral questionnaires or requests for letters of recommendations to an applicant’s references further automating the hiring process.

Not currently using ApplicantStack? Try us free for 30 days.

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ApplicantStack Releases API for Developers

ApplicantStack has released its Application Programming Interface (API) for Developers, which provides a way to build easy and secure integrations between ApplicantStack and other third-party and / or corporate systems.   The ApplicantStack API will give your IT group the tool it needs to integrate your ApplicantStack account with your corporate payroll system or HRIS.  The API uses a REST interface with JSON as the input and output and can be accessed using GET commands to read data and PUT commands to update it.  For more information on how to use the API see our knowledge base article here.

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