Why Your Job Advertising Isn’t Working (And What To Do About It)

Insight & Opinion | Talent Attraction

Job Advertising Not Working

It’s actually quite exciting when you first publish a job advert, you’ve taken the time to get it just right, turning your rather wordy job specification into a punchy job advert that is going to turn heads and attract top talent.  After all, your company is offering a competitive salary, great benefits, a first-class culture and career progression – this hire is going to be a doddle!

Oh, but hang on a minute, a few days have passed and you’ve not seen anywhere near the numbers of candidates you were expecting “why is nobody applying to my job adverts?” you ask. 

The largest response rates happen when adverts first go live, so if the floodgates haven’t opened within the first few days something might be wrong. We’ve put together these 7 reasons why your job adverts might be failing and key insight on how to kick start those applications…

7 reasons why your job adverts might not be working…


With over 1000 job boards to choose from in the UK, selecting the correct channels will make or break your campaign. It can be a minefield out there so if you’ve made the wrong choice…

What can you do?

If you feel you may have made a mistake and selected the wrong media, try and speak to your Job Board Account Manager and ask if there is anything they can do to improve responses, ask if they have any media partners they can cross post to, as well as checking terms and conditions to see if they have minimum level service agreements.

We advise that for a truly successful campaign go for broad exposure, target a mix of generalist, niche, aggregator, regional and social sites to increase reach and cover all the bases. Before diving in, research the correct channels selecting sites based on traffic, database size, industry relevance, search optimisation and performance. Recruitment Advertising services can help mitigate advertising risk and create broad exposure.


Job boards are in effect just search engines, therefore if you can strike the right balance between keyword density, stemmed keywords and tone of voice you’ll be onto a winner.

Once you’ve created and launched your advert look for it as if you are a candidate, use search terms they might be using and see where your advert appears. If you’re not appearing on the first couple of pages then you have a problem.

Something to be aware of is that once your advert goes live some job boards won’t allow you to edit salary ranges, job titles and other key text so be sure to do your research and gain the advice you need first in order not to waste your advertising spend.

For optimum results make sure your job advert ranks first:


If you divide the number of views you get by the total number of applications received (minus any duplicates) you’ll get your conversion rate.  Typical conversion rates run at 1-2 applications for every 10 views, so if your ratio is lower than this then something might be wrong.

Writing an advert is a careful balancing act between skills, responsibilities, keywords, culture, location, salary and benefits (not forgetting the need to structure your advert in the correct order) that when done correctly draws a reader in and edges them to the apply now button.

Each job board works differently, therefore speak to your Account Managers at each site asking them for advice and tips on optimising ad copy. i.e. Keywords in the title might work well for Monster but could be terrible for Reed. If advertising on multiple sites be prepared to create slightly different versions of your job advert for best results.

It’s a competitive job market out there and the simple fact is that if you don’t stand-out and sell yourself your adverts will get overlooked.  Produce compelling copy that describes what your company is like to work for, make it engaging and don’t just focus on the responsibilities and skill requirements.

How to write a job advert is a recent blog post we produced to help employers looking for more advice on the subject. 


In a study compiled by Hewlett Packard and reported in the Harvard Business Review, it was found that Men apply for a job when they meet 60% of the qualifications, but women only apply if they meet 100% of them.

Packing a job advert with long lists of skills and qualifications is a sure-fire way to put candidates off (especially women), therefore before committing all those skills into a job advert ask yourself “are they absolutely essential for the role?”.


Trim down your list to only include the must have requirements! Advantageous skills should be listed under a separate header or omitted from your advert all together.


Including a salary range means candidates will be able to instantly relate to your position, it creates a more exacting approach that will generate responses that directly correlate to market conditions.

Search for similar jobs to see how your salary ranges compare to your competitors, your advert needs to be competitive otherwise responses and results will fall below market averages.

Consider the rarity of the skills you require and how competitive the market is, in a highly competitive job market when companies are fighting over the best talent the addition of a salary can create the interest and provide the competitive edge to get candidates to apply.

Removing the salary will generate a broader range of applicants and could impact on search optimisation and conversion rates as candidates will often hold back on applying to positions when they don’t know what the salary is. 

General advice is to include a range, however it’s not possible in all situations to do this, therefore be sure to ask candidates their salary expectations at the earliest point in the recruitment lifecycle to ensure that expectations match.  It’s a horrible feeling when you discover your ideal candidate wants more salary than your budget allows and it’s at the end of an interview.


In the initial instance your job advert is there to generate some initial interest and spark a conversation. The aim is to attract an array of interested folk that you can whittle down into your defined shortlist.

Don’t put up barriers.  Hurdles such as requesting personalised cover letters, application forms, tests, questionnaires etc. can put off candidates who may be restricted for time and will result in a reduction of applications (even the very best ones).

Spark up a conversation first and then hit them with the homework, candidates are far more cooperative once the dialog is flowing.  Explain the reasons why you need tests to be completed or personalised forms filled out to drive engagement and conversion, you’re also more likely to receive a better quality of work as you’ve made a more formal request.

Recruitment is about building relationships, make the connection first and then ask for something.


When recruiting it’s important to jump in, have conversations and build a first-hand understanding of what skills are available on the market as of right now.

Reach out to potential candidates even if they only match 75% of your brief, some of the best hires we’ve made at Guru have been those that look ordinary on paper but jump out after that initial exploratory conversation.

Holding out for the exact blend of skills and experience might be the business strategy, but it’s important to ask yourself “what is the cost to the business by not having someone in post” to potentially broaden out your hiring scope to be more inclusive of less qualified candidates.

It’s also worth remembering that the best candidates do not stay on the market for very long, in fact the very skilled are gone within just 24 hours of applying to a job and 34% of the best are gone within the first week. 

The Lifespan of an Active Jobseeker explains more:

Lifespan of an Active Jobseeker

If you’re seeking more information on how to get the best ROI from your recruitment advertising drop Guru a line for an informal chat.

Article Updated: 26/08/2021