Not attracting the right talent? Try coffee, clarity and podcasts

Five ways employers can convert lifeless job postings into lively job ads
By Shahid Wazed
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 01/02/2018
Podcasts can help top candidates decide if a role is right for them, without having to go through the whole application process. Credit: Arina P Habich (Shutterstock)

Talent acquisition professionals often miss the fact that they always need to sell their jobs to the right talent.

With the advancement of the applicant tracking system (ATS), recruiters came to believe recruiting was about ranking applicants within the ATS and then forwarding the top ones to the hiring manager.

But that is only half of the equation, and that only yields great results when people do the upfront work of letting top candidates know about the position they’re recruiting for.

Since the current recruiting model is reactive — meaning employers often need to fill a role within two weeks — job postings become even more important for pulling in top candidates within a very short period of time.

So, how can this be done?

These five steps can convert lifeless job postings into lively job ads that sell not only a position, but also a hiring manager and company to top candidates:

Have the right mindset

Until recruiters ditch the idea that they’re doing a favour by offering jobs to candidates, they will never be able to attract top candidates.

It’s actually the other way around — top candidates do employers a favour when they decide to come work for them instead of the competition.

Since employers often don’t exert any extra effort to attract top candidates, they unfortunately don’t have a “selling” mindset. And because of that, they care less about online job postings.

They fail to realize that they either make or break their first impression through job postings. So it’s about treating job postings as the first place to make an impression in the marketplace.

Be clear

A good majority of online job postings are vague and, as a result, they attract hundreds of unqualified applicants. So, when you’re writing up the next job posting, always think about the audience you’re writing for.

Job postings aren’t the place for employer branding — it’s too late at that point — so don’t start the postings with a long paragraph about the employer.

Instead, use short sentences to convey your message and describe the position in detail to ensure it’s clear to potential candidates.

Consider coffee

There’s really no other way to understand what top candidates really want out of their next job without meeting them one-on-one. Try to meet at least 25 potential high-quality recruits who are at the top of their field right now.

Ask them out for coffee, but be ready for rejection — that’s just part of the game, nothing good comes without an effort.

Once you have met with all the top candidates, gather data from them, such as: why they’re passionate about their field, interesting challenges they’re working on right now, and what they look for when thinking about their next step.

Once you have this information collected, you’ll be able to create a road map on how to attract top candidates to your positions.

Make it short, sweet

While the average candidate might have all the time in the world to read lengthy and vague job postings, unfortunately, that won’t attract top candidates.

Writing short and compelling copy is like any other craft that requires training and investment to be successful. Copywriting is a skill that can provide an edge over the competition when the right content is conveyed to top candidates so they happily click that “Apply” button without you trying to convince them for weeks.

Try using podcasts

Hiring manager audio podcasts was a revolutionary idea that helped the City of Edmonton humanize its job postings.

Podcasts allow employers to put critical information upfront — such as interesting challenges a new hire would need to solve and the leadership style of a hiring manager.

Podcasts can help top candidates decide if a role is right for them, without having to go through the whole application process.

Last but not least, recruiters can create a strong relationship with hiring managers in recording their audio podcasts, and that can go a long way in helping attract the right talent to open positions.

Job postings are essentially job ads that should pull top candidates in. When job ads are written with the right audience in mind, the length becomes shorter, while the copy conveys a clear message that resonates with the right audience — top talent.

Embedding hiring manager audio podcasts into text job postings gives life to job ads that are sure to attract the right talent and take an organization to the next level.

Shahid Wazed leads the talent sourcing function at the City of Edmonton and also hosts the annual conference Top Talent Summit. For more information, visit

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