Why candidates aren’t applying for your job

No applications? We reveal the main obstacles that can stop prospective candidates in their tracks.

While there are many reasons why people don’t apply for jobs, SEEK research has found the four main explanations why candidates are reluctant to put themselves forward.

The top four reasons why candidates don’t apply for jobs

1. They don’t have a good understanding of the role

 It's essential to have a concise and relevant job description to attract candidates. In fact, 57% of candidates find vague job descriptions frustrating when searching for a new job. Make sure the job description makes sense to everyone who sees it.

2. A salary range isn’t stated

Job ads on SEEK that display salary receive up to 64% more applications than job ads that don’t. Including a salary is an easy way to boost applications.

3. The job ad doesn’t contain information about the location/flexibility of the role

When it comes to information about location and flexibility, more is more. 52% of candidates won’t apply for a role without an advertised location.  Also, 41% of candidates think it’s important to include flexible working options in their job ads.

4. Candidates expect the application process to be complicated and/or time intensive

When candidates expect the application process is going to be complicated and they don’t know the salary on offer, many won’t invest the time to apply. In fact, 47% of candidates have given up on applying for a job because the process was too long.

“Ensuring that the candidate experience is personable, encouraging and timely is crucial to calming any fears that the process will be time intensive,” says Natasha Hawker, Managing Director of Employee Matters and author of ‘From Hire to Fire and Everything in Between’.

Key information candidates are looking for in job postings

SEEK research identified multiple pain points during the search process, but the main points relate to salary and understanding the role.

  • Only one in three (34%) candidates are confident they can find out how much the job pays.
  • Just two in five (39%) are confident in knowing what the job involves when searching online.

Hawker says that, before employers write a job ad, it’s important to work out the reason why someone would want to work for your organisation.

“What are the benefits? What is the culture? What are the career opportunities? How do you make the world a better place,” she says. “Then pepper these into the ad.”

What candidates expect after they apply

After applying, candidates are still uncertain about the process, with only one in four (27%) feeling confident in monitoring the status of their application, and only one in three (36%) saying they know what happens to their job application after applying online.

Not hearing back from the recruiter or HR manager is a top frustration for 72% of candidates.

Hawker advises that employers develop and adhere to a candidate communication approach by developing rapport with individuals who have applied.

“This can be automated, but it needs to be friendly, professional and on-brand,” she says. “You need to make candidates feel valued and show professional courtesy. It’s frightening to see how many employers never get back to candidates who have taken the time to respond to their ad.”

What you can do to attract the right candidate

It’s important to consider incorporating a salary range into your ad, and to be concise but as detailed as possible when explaining the role and location. Some employers may wish to provide an easy-to-read version of the job ad with a ‘find out more’ button that expands to reveal extra details.

Quick tips to attract more candidates

Problem 1: Candidates don’t know how much the job pays or the location.

Solution: Include a salary or salary range in your job ad and the location of the role.

Problem 2: Candidates want more information about the job.

Solution: Provide an easy-to-read version of the job ad with a ‘find out more’ button that expands to reveal extra details.

Problem 3: Candidates expect the process to be complicated/time intensive.

Solution: Let candidates know you will communicate with them throughout the process and keep them informed regardless of whether they are successful or not.


  1. SEEK ANZ job ad data, Jan-Jun 2023
  2. Independent research conducted by Nature of behalf of SEEK, interviewing 400 Kiwis annually. Published November 2023.