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Why Your Job Ads Aren’t as Effective as You’d Like and What You Can Do About It

Why Your Job Ads aren’t as Effective as You Would Like and What You Can Do About It
Profile photo of Aaron Schwartzbord
Written by Aaron Schwartzbord

With only 4% of what was spent on job ads last year resulting in an application, it’s time to focus on optimizing your strategy for success. Kyle Leigh and Lauren Cala from Appcast share why your ads aren’t bringing in the quality applicants you need and how you can optimize them to see better results.

Why Your Job Ads Aren’t as Effective as You’d Like and What You Can Do About It
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Among all your strategies, recruitment advertising continues to play a vital role in bringing in candidates. But it might not be bringing in the results you want or expect. You see this in the data: 10% of jobs receive about 85% of all the applies. Some jobs are receiving way too many applicants while some jobs aren’t receiving enough to make a hire. And some jobs may not be getting any applicants at all.

This is because job boards like to advertise the easiest to fill roles. But there are things you can do to make an impact on this, making sure your job ads are getting to the right people and bringing your company the quality candidates you need.

At the May 2023 RallyFwd Virtual Conference, Kyle Leigh and Lauren Cala from Appcast shared their insights, strategies and pro tips for a reimagined recruitment advertising program that effectively attracts quality candidates. Today we’re sharing these ideas and insights so that you can reevaluate and revamp how you’re advertising jobs to make an impact on the quality candidates you attract this year.

Based on Kyle and Lauren’s ideas, we’re going to review the top reasons why your ads probably aren’t as effective as you’d like them to be and share some recommendations and tactics to improve this strategy and hire faster.

Before we jump in, let’s meet Kyle and Lauren!

Meet our experts

Kyle Leigh, Vice President of Programmatic Strategy, Appcast

Kyle Leigh, Vice President of Programmatic Strategy, Appcast

Kyle Leigh is the VP of Programmatic Strategy at Appcast, working with their strategy teams to deliver best practices, best strategies and best performance for employers using their platform for advertising jobs.

Lauren Cala, Solutions Architect, Appcast

Lauren Cala, Solutions Architect, Appcast

Lauren Cala works at Appcast as a Solutions Architect and has been in the talent acquisition space since 2014, having previously worked for a job board.

Rally Note: If you’d like to see Kyle and Lauren’s full presentation, “Reimagined Job Advertising,” watch RallyFwd On Demand.

Why your job ads aren’t attracting the candidates you want

Beyond the fact that job boards focus on promoting the easiest to fill roles, there are other factors that impact job ad performance:

  • The macro economy and the labor market
  • What your job board strategy is in terms of which boards you advertise on and how much you spend on them
  • Your internal processes

Let’s dive deeper into each of these!

Impacts on job ad performance: the macro economy and the labor market

At the time that Lauren and Kyle presented at RallyFwd they were sharing jobs numbers from March 2023, showing the unemployment rate ticked down to 3.5%, a little bit higher than the 53 year low of 3.4%. Since the conference, hiring has continued to exceed expectations, with the unemployment rate rising slightly to 3.7%. And the Prime-age labor force participation rate ticked up in May to 83.4%.

The economy and job market have a big impact on your recruitment advertising results. Currently, the labor market is still very competitive.

The economy and job market have a big impact on your recruitment advertising results. Currently, the labor market is still very competitive.

What does that all mean effectively? Kyle explains, “It means that there are five million more job vacancies than participating members of the labor force. So the bottom line is, it’s still really hard to hire.”

Probably not a big surprise!

Lauren added, “As one of our lead economists puts it, the market has gone from what we call white hot to red hot. And despite what we’re seeing in the tech industry along with some job losses in manufacturing and transportation, across all sectors we have more jobs than there were back in February 2020 pre-pandemic. 

Overall job openings are up with some losses in a few industries, like construction and tech.

In terms of job ads, there’s good news. Costs are stabilizing, and in some cases, job ad costs are declining while apply rates are increasing.

Appcast tracks job ad performance across all their customers and is seeing that the average cost-per-click has stabilized to about $1. Clicks then convert into applications, so the cost-per-application is decreasing both because CPC rates are stabilizing while apply rates are increasing. With apply rates increasing (meaning the rate of people who click on a job ad and actually convert into finished applications), we’re starting to see a return to normalcy, which allows employers to better predict how much it is going to cost to fill vacancies and advertise roles.

Impacts on job ad performance: Your job board strategy

Job board and job ad strategy is the second major factor in your ability to be effective.

Kyle explains, “The most ineffective way of approaching this is by manually advertising jobs. Meaning, you are hand picking which jobs need to be advertised because they don’t have enough candidates or they’re high priority, and then you’re using some guesswork in terms of, ‘I want this job to go on this job board or I want this job to go on this aggregator, I want this job to have $100 budget, I want this job to have $1000 budget.’”

This is going to cause frustration due to a lack of data and insights into ad performance, not getting the appropriate quantity of applicants for particular jobs and not getting the desired quality of applicants for a particular job. Kyle continued, “We see, when employers are taking a manual approach to job advertising, that 53% of jobs do not receive a single application.”

Lauren shared considerations for optimizing your job ad strategy for the best results:

  • How many job boards are being managed?
  • Are the job boards being managed manually?
  • How are you compiling the performance from all of these different job boards to make sure that you’re getting what you need out of them?
  • How are you going about understanding how many applicants you need? And how do you control it for all of your jobs vs the individual requisitions?
  • How are you distributing that budget to different roles?
  • And are you aligning your needs and budget with your time-to-fill?
  • What are you doing to make sure you’re getting the right candidates with the right skill set that are actually turning into hires?

Some considerations when working to optimize your job advertising strategy.

Impacts on job ad performance: Your internal processes

Once your recruitment advertising strategy has been optimized, what are your internal processes and how do they support your job ads being effective? Are you making sure your response times are quick and that the candidates are not entering into a black hole and never hearing from your organization?

Kyle reminded, “When a person is going to a job board to search for jobs, it’s typically because they needed a job yesterday. So the first employer to call that person back is usually the one who makes that hire. So, if you’re complaining about the lack of quality from your applicants, you might want to dive a little bit deeper and see how long does it take for you to actually review an application and respond to the candidate?”

Beyond that, take into account the candidate journey. This is not a new topic, but it’s still very relevant. Are candidates able to easily complete your application on a mobile device? Is it a good experience? How long does it take to complete?

Lauren added, “We’ve found that if you keep the application time to under 5 minutes, you’re going to have a much higher conversion rate from click to apply than if you’re exceeding that 5 minute time. And that goes along with the number of questions you’re asking.”

Strategies to positively impact job ad performance

While job board channels are a large source of candidates, there’s a lot of waste. Appcast’s data shows that while $13.5 billion (yes, billion!) was spent last year on job ads, only 4% resulted in applications. This is equivalent to spending $1 million a day for 37 years. So focusing on ways you can increase your conversion rate and get a better ROI from a job board channel is really important.

Centralize your job advertising strategy

Start by making sure that you have an overarching strategy to ensure that you’re getting the right number of candidates for each job and aligning to your time-to-fill goals. Also put special attention on the projects that impact the business the greatest.

One way to centralize your strategy is by using a programmatic solution (like Appcast). There are thousands upon thousands of different job boards and it can be difficult to figure out which one’s best. It can also be hard to contract and manage each and every one of them. A programmatic solution gives you access to the entire active candidate audience in one contract you buy, like a network. It allows you to post jobs across, effectively, every single job board that is out there, as long as that job board makes sense for that job.

All you do is provide the solution with your budget, the roles that need to be advertised and technology automates the rest.

An effective (and efficient) way of centralizing your job ad strategy is using a programmatic advertising solution, like Appcast. It gives you access, automation and data to target your job ads in a way that makes sense for each individual req.

Pay attention to job advertising benchmark data

There is a lot of data that’s publicly available. Appcast regularly puts out their Recruitment Marketing Benchmark Report. This report can offer insights on what your cost-per-applicant should be, based on supply and demand, and therefore what should your cost-per-hire be.

Benchmark data will also help you understand competition, the terms and keywords being used in titles and the positioning/placement of ads.

Job titles in job ads matter

Job titles can really make or break a campaign. Even just the length of your title has a great impact on the conversion rate, which affects that cost-per-applicant, affects volume and essentially trickles down to how quickly you make the hire.

In the chart below, you’ll see that as job titles get shorter, in terms of keywords, the number of clicks goes up. Unnecessary keywords and the wrong keywords (including internal acronyms or codes) are going to decrease the relevancy of your title. To get in front of the right audience, you need to be thinking about the keywords that job type seekers are actually searching for.

Appcast research has found that the fewer words in a job title, the more clicks you’ll get, which trickles down to how quickly you can make a hire.


Remember, job ads are impacted by many factors. Some we can control, like content (including job titles), accessibility and having a data driven strategy. Some we can’t control, like the economy. Ultimately, you need to ensure that you have the best practices in place to extract the maximum ROI from the job board channel, making hires faster and more cost effective.

To learn more about optimizing your job ad performance and the benefits of a programmatic solution, watch Kyle and Lauren’s full session from the RallyFwd Virtual Conference, available on demand.

Why Your Job Ads Aren’t as Effective as You’d Like and What You Can Do About It
5 (100%) 1 vote

About the Author

Profile photo of Aaron Schwartzbord

Aaron Schwartzbord

Aaron Schwartzbord is the Director of Marketing for Rally Recruitment Marketing. A data-driven marketer with 15+ years of experience, he is passionate about helping companies of all sizes and industries grow with creative strategies and efficient, streamlined processes.

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