If you’re like most employers right now, you’re feeling the heat of having to fill more roles faster than ever. With this demand for more candidates comes the even greater challenge of maintaining (and ideally improving) the quality candidates you’re attracting. Hitting your quota doesn’t mean much if the majority of candidates you’re attracting don’t end up being qualified for the roles you’re trying to fill.
This is especially a challenge for companies like Express Employment Professionals, the largest light industrial staffing agency in the United States. Employing 560,000 associates annually, Express already had high-volume recruitment needs before the pandemic; fast forward to today, and these high-volume recruitment needs have become even more challenging to meet for their clients.
Fortunately, we recently had the chance to sit down with Jim Levine, Franchise Owner, Express Employment Professionals in Mentor, OH, to learn how he and his team are using programmatic job ads and AI to fill more roles than ever without sacrificing candidate quality.
The impact of switching to programmatic job advertising
Before making the switch to programmatic job advertising in September 2021, due to the current state of the labor market, Jim found himself progressively spending more time and money to get fewer applicants that were less qualified. The growing frequency of ghosting, no shows and unfilled roles for their clients that were resulting made him realize that a big change was needed.
Rally note: For the latest data looking at the current state of the labor market, watch Andrew Flowers’ RallyFwd session, Recruitment Data: Your Advantage in a Competitive Labor Market.
After seeing PandoLogic at a conference, Jim instantly jumped on programmatic advertising as the change he needed. From day one of implementing the platform, Jim saw a drastic increase in applications. Plus, because the platform took so many manual tasks off Jim’s plate, he and his team were almost instantly able to start spending more time speaking with candidates on a deeper level to better determine qualification and job fit.
Today, programmatic advertising and AI have produced the following for Express:
- 45% applicants scheduled for interviews (compared to 30% before PandoLogic)
- 60% show rate to interviews (compared to 50% before)
- 4x as many applications
Now, let’s look at how Jim used programmatic advertising, as well as his own seasoned expertise, to achieve these results, and how you can do the same at your organization.
Simplify your job posting process
Before switching to programmatic, Jim used to have to post each job 4-6 times, depending on how many job posting sites they wanted it on. Plus, this wasn’t just a matter of copying and pasting, as each site required specific formatting to make sure everything ran and looked smooth.
Copy, edit to suit the site, paste. Repeat, over and over. This process took a lot of precious time.
Once he’d switched over to PandoLogic, all Jim had to do was embed a code in the original job ad posted on Express’s microsite, and then the platform would sense that code and automatically post it across the platform’s various job posting sites.
If you and your team are constantly buried in a pile of administrative tasks, this one change can make a world of difference.
Format your job ads correctly
Through his own observation, Jim realized that candidates only read about 1/3 of a job ad before deciding whether or not to apply. This meant it was very important to include critical information as close to the top as possible to ensure candidates had all the information they needed to make the right call.
So, he got work changing the template of Express’s job ads, making sure that the information that candidates needed and cared about most was placed at the top, including:
- How much the job paid
- What shift they could expect (i.e. afternoon shift or night shift)
- Where the job was located
- How many weekly hours the job consisted of
- What benefits the job offered
- How they could apply
Below this, he placed the less essential information, such as job responsibilities.
Try experimenting with changing the placement of information in your own job ads to see how it affects the quality of candidates that apply.
Include the right keywords
Other than the placement of information, Jim also made sure to include the right keywords and phrases in Express’s job ads to help candidates find them on Google, job sites and other search engines. For example, for a job ad about a machine operator job in Cleveland, he would make sure to sprinkle the phrase “Best machine operation job in Cleveland” throughout the ad.
The better you can understand and include the keywords your candidates are searching to find your kinds of jobs, the more likely search engines will place your jobs in front of them. You can use tools like Google Trends, Google Keyword Planner and Ahrefs to conduct this kind of research, as well as performance data from your job ads.
For example, you can A/B test job titles to see which title better resonates with candidates. This also may change from area to area (i.e. people search for “barber” in one area and “hair dresser” in another, even though they’re looking for the same kind of job).
Link your job location and repost unfilled roles
You can also take a page out of Jim’s playbook and hyperlink the area of your jobs (i.e. literally hyperlink the word “Knoxville”) to Google Maps. This way, when candidates click on the hyperlinked location, they can see if it’s close enough to them to warrant applying. This can be super helpful for candidates who are interested in a job but aren’t familiar with its location.
Another tip is to repost your job ads on a weekly basis. When candidates see that a job ad was posted 30 days ago, Jim’s found that they are less likely to apply due to thinking that it’s likely already been filled, much more than a job ad that was posted only a few days ago.
In this sense, if you haven’t filled the role after a week, try taking it down and reposting it to see if its freshness attracts more candidates. If doing this week after week sounds tiring, you can make the process a lot easier with a tool like PandoLogic using the process described above.
Go beyond the big posting sites
There’s a good chance that you’re already using the big job posting sites like ZipRecruiter and Indeed, as these are the sites candidates are most familiar with. But what about the plethora of other sites you’ve never heard of?
These sites may be smaller, or more centered around specific geographies or niche industries, but that’s exactly why they can open up the doors to not just more candidates but more diverse candidates as well.
This is where programmatic platforms can really help. Instead of hunting down these smaller sites yourself and managing them on a one-by-one basis, you can let a programmatic platform post your job ads to them for you. For example, PandoLogic can automatically post your job ads to over 1,000 sites and constantly use performance data to understand which sites to focus on for your specific hiring goals.
Iterate through performance data
What job sites are producing the most applications? What sites are producing the highest-quality candidates? Are you getting better at tailoring your messaging, job titles and creative to attract the right candidates to the right jobs?
You can’t know the answers to these questions without the right data. For example, many programmatic platforms offer analytics dashboards with information like how many applications you’ve received, were clicked on, how many candidates actually applied, cost per click, cost per applicant and other metrics you can use to let you know if your strategy is working.
Through tracking this kind of performance data, you can always know if the changes you’re making are getting you closer or farther away from your goals.
Give passive candidates a way to engage other than applying for a job
Lots of people coming to your careers site are not applying to jobs. This means you’re not always hiring the best fit but rather the first fit.
This is why it can be helpful to implement a chatbot on your careers site, as it gives candidates who might otherwise just leave your site a way to engage with you. Through conversational AI, chatbots have evolved to the point where candidates can have full-fledged conversations with them, similar to how they would with a human recruiter.
They can ask questions about specific roles and more general questions about your company and culture, receive instantaneous answers and be directed to helpful resources. Chatbots can also be used to capture contact information and help you build a talent community, which you can use to stay in touch with passive candidates and nurture them overtime by sending them open roles and employer brand content.
By implementing the changes above, Jim and his team at Express increased the number of applicants for their clients’ roles, freed up countless hours in administrative tasks and added just enough friction to the application process to improve candidate quality. They also gave themselves more time to make sure their candidates end up in roles they’re not just qualified for but connect with on a deeper cultural level.
For even more pro tips from Jim, watch our Webinar On Demand, How to increase top quality candidates by 50%!