5 Keys To Creating Compelling Candidate Communications (Without Boring Them To Death)

Job Search DunceLet’s say, just for fun, that I was about to release a product marketed as “the world’s biggest wine glass,” but at no point in talking about the features and benefits inherent to having the world’s biggest wine glass do I mention how big that wine glass actually is.

Does it hold two glasses? A bottle? An entire vineyard’s worth of Vino? If you couldn’t quantify the primary selling point of this – or any product – would you consider buying it? I’d like to believe you wouldn’t – and the same goes for most consumers with any semblance of common sense.

You’re smarter than that, right? Even if it’s just wine glasses, you need detailed information to make an informed purchasing decision. The same goes for the “purchasing” process by which the best candidates pick career opportunities, too.

It’s imperative to remember that candidates are customers, too – and these “consumers of work” are becoming increasingly picky about which work product they ultimately pick.

This means, more and more, the best candidates expect enough information from prospective employers at the start of the process to make an informed decision about their relative interest in your company and careers before ever actually applying.

Which makes sense, because there’s no more important (or bigger ticket purchase) imaginable than choosing where you’re going to be devoting your professional efforts, energies and talents for the foreseeable future, or the kind of people you’re going to be spending more time with than your family for the next 2-5 years, statistically speaking.

Candidate Communication: What Job Seekers Want To Know

Harlem Shake Job BrandIn their most recent survey, “What Makes Companies Attractive to Candidates?,” Glassdoor went straight to the source to ask job seekers directly what, exactly, they’re looking for when shopping for a new career – and what keeps them from actually buying into an employer brand or job opportunity.

The job seekers responding to the Glassdoor survey were asked to identify the top five pieces of information they could learn directly from employers that would make the most meaningful impact on their decision making when assessing a job opportunity or career at a company.

The study found that 76% of job seekers wanted to know what, exactly, made a company an attractive place to work, with candidates placing the highest premium on company culture and competitive differentiation. Compensation closely followed, with 70% reporting that they wanted detailed information on salary and benefits before beginning the application process.

Rounding out the top 5 decision making drivers were an overview of the company’s mission, vision and values (60%) as well as basic company information such as office locations, number of employees, and financial information like revenue (55%). (You can see all of the stats here.) 

Now, I’m not new to researching companies or jobs – to say I’ve hunted for or investigated my fair share of career opportunities would be something of an understatement, frankly – and where it is that I look for this information when looking for jobs.

There’s obviously a lot of options when it comes to obtaining these insights, from a company’s LinkedIn page to investing sites like Hoovers or Crunchbase to a corporate careers page to (naturally) an employer’s Glassdoor profile. The thing is, hunting down all these disparate sources can be a real pain in the ass – and even when you actually finding it, finding anything meaningful in it can often present an even more daunting challenge.

I’ve always wondered why it is, exactly, that companies don’t just stick all this information up on their own websites in the first place – or if they do, why it’s inevitably almost impossible to find once you’re there. Sure, maybe there’s a careers tab hidden somewhere on the footer, but the onus shouldn’t be on me, the candidate, to do this kind of leg work to find the information I need.

As a consumer, frankly, I have the expectation that this is the sort of information that should be provided – and the associated frustrations when I can’t find what I’m looking for. As a marketer, I’m wondering why HR seems to be missing out on something so basic – and how providing they can do a better job providing the right information to the right candidates at the right time, taking recruiting and job search to the next level.

Just as important as communicating this information, getting a candidate to answer any recruiting call to action requires that it be compelling, too. Easier said than done, I know – but imminently doable, nevertheless.

Take your average company career site, for example.  You know, the ones with the cheesy stock images of diverse teams in generic offices (why do they always look so happy to be at work in those, anyway?) and even more cheesy “value” statements that wouldn’t be out of place on a Successories poster?

Of course you know, because that’s the kind of crap that’s all too common on careers pages.  The thing is, not only are these lame, they’re also unoriginal, uninspiring and unfortunately, not effective when it comes to presenting your work product to potential prospects.  I mean, seriously – if you were a job seeker, would these get you excited enough to want to work there?

Are they compelling enough to get your call to action answered and transform a passive candidate into an active applicant? If we’re being honest, you probably already know the answer.

Now, let’s make it clear that I don’t like clichés, so I hate to start spouting off aphorisms like “inspirational” or “motivational” in regards to marketing your work product, but the thing is, in recruitment marketing, aspiration is everything.

5 Keys To Creating Compelling Candidate Communications (Without Boring Them To Death)

Making job seekers (and current employees) want to work for you – and why you’re different than every other employer out there – is the entire point of employer branding.  So how do you get your message across and impart the details candidates want to know without coming across as, well, boring?

Here are 5 ways to give the people what they want to know before clicking “apply” for the five critical pieces of information the recent Glassdoor survey suggests they care about the most:

1. Details on What Makes The Company An Attractive Place To Work (78%)

Tcontent101here’s a direct correlation between the level of education or certification of a candidate and their relative desire for company-related details.  If your hiring strategy requires recruiting candidates with advanced degrees or specialized certifications – think MDs, PhDs, RNs, JDs, etc. – then, not surprisingly, you’re going to have to provide even more information than, say, clerical or administrative candidates.

In fact, the Glassdoor study found that fully 89% of those with terminal graduate degrees like a PhD and 78% of those with professional degrees like a JD or MD want this information from an employer upfront.

And as you can imagine, they’re looking for a little more than a graphic about some “greatest places to work” list they don’t care about from a business journal they’ve never heard of.

Instead, try including quotes from your top performers or from real employees (ideally those working in similar roles or functions to the ones for which you are trying to recruit) about why THEY think your company is a top place to work – not some generic award or anonymous quote that sounds suspiciously like marketing copy.

Figuring out who to feature means knowing who you’re trying to target and building content that your audience actually cares about – what those of us in marketing call “personas” are key in creating compelling content.  It’s important to make them feel your culture and understand your company at an emotional level.  If a candidate can’t “feel” what your company is all about, it’s likely that they’re not going to feel like applying after getting through all your clinical copy and sanitized stock photos.

2. Details on Compensation (70%)

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that people care about how much money they’re going to be making – or, if they’re that fabled “passive” candidate, how much MORE money they’re going to get paid if they jump ship.

That’s why, on your career site, if your compensation is competitive with or even better, above market average, put a salary range on your job descriptions and speak to the fact you put your money where your mouth is by rewarding “your greatest asset” accordingly.

Job Compensation Data

Linking to a 3rd party site, like this one from Glassdoor, can let you off the hook on breaking down salary ranges and expectations on your career site.

Of course, since most of us have pretty wide ranges or professional peccadillos about revealing too many details about compensation too early in the process, then try linking to a 3rd party site, like Glassdoor or Payscale, that breaks down salary ranges and expectations in your company or industry directly from your career site.

You’re going to have to deal with comp at some point in the process – and if it’s a non-starter for candidates, it’s best to disclose this before they even get started.  They’re not going to fall in love with your company so much during the interview process that you’re going to change their mind about minimum expectations – the most you might get is a little wiggle room.  But it’s rarely worth the time it takes to get through the process.

3. Details on Benefits (62%)

Benefits are a deal breaker.  Not only are things like a retirement plan and health insurance the piece of mind (and virtual safety net) that lets your workers focus on work, even softer benefits like perks or performance incentives can make or break an accepted offer.

Make sure that your company careers site has a landing page or distinct section that’s easy to find and outlines your entire benefits package or total rewards program.  That way, you’ll have an easy place to point candidates already in the process as well as a great way to let those who haven’t yet applied know what kinds of benefits and perks your company offers to its employees.

A good idea is to place a way for candidates to submit their resumes without applying for an actual position or join your talent network at the bottom of that page, so that you’re able to build a database of candidates who are attracted by what your company has to offer beyond direct compensation – and ensure your rewards get some recognition.

4. Company Mission, Vision, Values (60%)

Most of the time these read like check-lists of clichéd, tired terms and wish lists of things leaders know they suck at but wish they could do better.

Mission Statement FunnyInstead of simply stating your mission, vision and values or having some anchor link to a .pdf with this information, show how these critical drivers actually impact your culture by showing, not telling.

Create content with real employees talking in their real voices about what these values really mean, or else tying these values to specific business initiatives or outcomes that a candidate could impact in a career at your company.

After all, some people want to do right by doing good, and are working for a larger purpose than a paycheck – a number that’s only going to go up in the years to come as more Millennial workers enter the workforce.

5. Basic Company Information (55%)

 If someone’s on your career site, there’s a good chance they already care about your company.  Glassdoor’s survey, however, shows that they might care about more than you think.

They’re not looking for simple, superficial details like company size or number of employees – they’re also interested in the company’s history and evolution, where you’re going and how they can contribute next chapter in the story of your organization.

More important than this information is that it leads to some degree of inspiration to succeed – and the only way to do this is by telling your company’s story through the vision – and in the voices – of the employees writing it every day. Showing an individual worker’s impact on a company’s trajectory isn’t just inspiring – it’s also incredibly empowering.

Even if you can’t be an Amazon or a Zappos, remember the goal of your career site is to get a call to action answered. To inspire action, and applications, you’ve got to get your candidates to do more than simply read some company copy or check some “best practices” boxes while putting together a career site. You’ve got to give them the information they want while overcoming any objections they need to just click “apply.”

Now, if only getting them to accept your actual offers were so simple.

Copy Lead, Randstand

I am a storyteller. A tactical problem solver. A curious mind. A data nerd. With that unique filter, I work to craft messages that strategically improve the perceptions and experiences of our clients, the people they employ and the candidates they wish to attract. I methodically review and collect research and insights to offer solution-based recommendations that meet the one-off, and not so one-off, recruiting and employer branding problems of today’s global employers.


I am a storyteller. A tactical problem solver. A curious mind. A data nerd. With that unique filter, I work to craft messages that strategically improve the perceptions and experiences of our clients, the people they employ and the candidates they wish to attract. I methodically review and collect research and insights to offer solution-based recommendations that meet the one-off, and not so one-off, recruiting and employer branding problems of today’s global employers.

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