3 reasons your job ad is attracting fewer applications
There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on the employment sector.

SEEK data reveals that compared to two years ago, applications per ad are down 24%. The fall in applications is broadly affecting all job types, with the number of applications made by each candidate falling 15% from the time before COVID. And all of this is despite the number of visits to the SEEK website remaining steady.

With some parts of New Zealand still experiencing lockdowns, we asked Julian Greaves, Director at FIND Recruitment, and Shay Peters, Managing Director at Robert Walters NZ, what hirers and managers can do to navigate this period where job ads are attracting fewer applications.

  1. Job security more important during the pandemic
    According to research conducted on behalf of SEEK, job security is top of mind at the moment. 32% of Kiwis agree they feel worried about their job security, with 16% saying that they were planning to leave their current job but decided to stay because of COVID.

    “Whilst the job market is busy, COVID does create uncertainty, especially in particular sectors,” Greaves says. “Even companies outside of travel, tourism and hospitality suffer during lockdowns and if you are the last in, you could potentially be the first out. Many people will decide there’s safety in sticking with their current employers until we have come out of this pandemic.”

    What you can do: Job security is about reducing the risk of candidates leaving a secure role and moving to a new position. Greaves says that a simple answer is to offer a permanent role with no trial period. “This offers a layer of protection to a new employee,” he says. “If, as an employer, you have been relatively unscathed in 2020, you could emphasise this to potential employees. Then they will probably have more confidence in joining you.”

    Alternatively, it can be useful to proactively discuss opportunities for personal growth and development at your organisation, as well as highlighting your track record in sustaining revenue, productivity, and headcount through previous lockdowns. Taking the time to do these things highlight that you have both a good history of stable performance, as well as an eye firmly on the future and that your see the candidate being a part of the story.
  2. Mental wellbeing impacts of COVID-19
    There’s no doubt that the disruption caused by the pandemic has impacted some candidates’ mental wellbeing. Indeed, the research shows that some of the most commonly used words by candidates to describe 2020 were ‘uncertain’, ‘stressful’ and ‘challenging’. 

    “It was a difficult time for mental wellbeing for many during 2020,” Peters says. “Resilience levels were challenged, and the thought of embarking on a new career, or starting in a new role, is one step too far for many potential job seekers now.”

    What you can do: You can create an optimal experience for candidates applying for your role by being transparent about what’s involved in the role, the number of interviews required, and the steps involved in the hiring process.

    You can also take steps to prioritise wellbeing in your workplace and take the opportunity to speak about your wellbeing policies and programs with candidates to show them how they will be supported.
  3. Focusing on quantity rather than quality
    According to Greaves, employers shouldn’t focus on attracting a high volume of applications with their job ad, but should concentrate instead on attracting the right candidates. “In my view, the job advertising can sometimes be quite generic, uninspiring and commoditised,” he says.

    “Often job adverts are cloned and adjusted. Eventually they all sound similar and this puts off job seekers who are looking for specific cultures, role purposes, career opportunities and more.”

    What you can do: “My suggestion to hiring managers is to put greater effort into writing a truthful, accurate and inspiring job advert that avoids common mistakes and includes specifics around salary, benefits and flexibility,” Greaves says. “If possible, outsource this task to a professional creative writer. I believe a high-quality, differentiated advert on SEEK will still attract the right person.”

While a fall in applications has been seen across different industries, success in finding the right candidate for your role may require a different approach or additional tactics. Job seekers seem to be more selective when choosing which roles to apply for. This sets the focus on ensuring that you have a great job ad, and by using resources like SEEK’s Laws of Attraction portal, tailoring your approach around what attracts job seekers to apply for a role like yours.

Source: Independent research conducted by Nature on behalf of SEEK. Interviewing 4000 Kiwis annually. Published October 2021.

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