Want to improve sourcing, applicant flow, and candidate quality in one fell swoop? Borrow this handy trick from the marketing world.
“Good artists borrow. Great artists steal.”
(Ironically, it’s hard to find a single attribution for that quote because it’s been stolen so often.)
There’s a great lesson in here for recruiters, especially those trying to increase applicant flow and quality — no need to reinvent the wheel when you can just steal the darn thing. Turn to the marketing world to learn how to attract better candidates with one, simple trick: keywords.
How to Attract Better Candidates with Keywords
These days, people find jobs online through company websites, social media, and job boards. But even if you have a presence on all those channels, your efforts won’t help if your listings don’t appear in search results. Keywords are the, well, key to cracking that search engine code.
Marketing teams have been using keywords for decades to harness search traffic and help the right people find the right messages. Keywords are the specific words or phrases that your target candidates use when searching for jobs online — not the corporate lingo your company uses internally. The idea is that by using language people use in their search terms, search engines will list your website higher in the results. The higher a page appears in those the results, the more likely it is to be seen.
The same idea is true in job postings, whether they are on your company’s website or a job board. You want to appear in the first few pages of search results by being a better fit for your ideal candidates. This ensures that the right candidates see your job listing and apply.
You too can use this handy marketing trick to improve sourcing, applicant flow, and candidate quality. Here’s how:
Find the Right Keywords
Companies get so stuck in corporate speak that they lose touch with how real people talk about their skills and experience. Luckily, there are a couple tools you can use to find out how real people talk about jobs in your field.
1. Google Search
When you do a quick Google search for a position you are trying to fill, you may find that people have different ways of phrasing job titles and descriptions. Look at Google’s suggestions for how people are actually phrasing their searches, because this can be an indicator of what popular search terms for the position may be.
2. Google Adwords
This is a service that marketing teams use to run advertising campaigns on Google, but one of the handy and free resources on the site is the Keyword Planner. By typing in some terms associated with a subject, Google will show you data on what related terms people use by frequency. You can then plan which keywords should be used in your posting by which ones show up with high rankings. For even better results, choose terms that have high search frequency with low competition, because these are terms for which you could more easily reach the top of the search results page.
3. Social Media
Another great method for choosing keywords is by looking at industry professionals on LinkedIn or Twitter to see what sorts of words they use to describe their jobs and experience. Not only will this indicate how real people are talking about their jobs, but the language used by industry influencers often impacts the way other people talk in their own lives. By going straight to the source, you are sure to target the right individuals.
Don’t Overdo It
While including keywords in your job descriptions will help you find more talent, including too many can make your job posting sound robotic (or render it an incomprehensible mess). Remember — you’re writing for humans, not search engines. Rather than including a laundry list of terms to get search results, write your job description in clear, natural language. Only insert keywords where they naturally fit. The posting will still show up in search results, but the cleaner language will attract more applicants.
How has using keywords in your job descriptions helped you find better talent?
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is a freelance writer and blogger with previous experience as an HR manager. You can connect with her on .