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How Job Boards Can Help Employers Fix Job Ad Zilch

By Peter Weddle, CEO TAtech

It’s the siren song of recruiters these days. Leveled at job boards with an accusatory tone, they want to know, “Why am I spending money to post my jobs on your site when all I get is zilch?” They may even be aware of the historic drop-off in active job seekers – they may know that the demand for talent far exceeds supply right now – and yet, they’re still baffled by the poor performance of their ads. And, of course, when that happens, they typically decide it’s the job board’s fault. How can you reframe the conversation to get past the finger-pointing? Take them through the five factors for fixing zilch.

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The key to preserving a strong client relationship with an employer is to have your salespeople reset the conversation as a consultation. Not formally. Not with any grand announcement. But instead, by leading the discussion from complaint to problem-solving, from “them vs. us” to “let’s work on this together.”

Once that more positive and productive condition has been established, each salesperson should take their point of contact for each of the employers experiencing a problem through an analysis of five factors that could be undermining the applicant flow generated by a job posting. And yes, time is short, but it’s likely that the problem has been caused by a combination of factors, so they should stay at it through the entire list as that will maximize the probability of achieving positive ad performance.

The Five Factors

Quality of the Ad

This is an obvious place to start, as many of today’s ads are simply position descriptions repurposed online. An effective job posting doesn’t simply describe the opening, however, it must also sell it, especially in a highly competitive market. While some recruiters will resist a “reeducation” in the best practices of writing a compelling posting, it’s useful to go over their ad and constructively point out where language, content and/or format may be undermining its performance.

The Requirements & Salary of the Opening

Unfortunately, many of the execs who set salary and qualifications for openings are the same people who are living in the last century. According to a recent research report, fewer than 4 out of 10 HR and TA leaders believe it’s a challenge to recruit talent right now. For that reason, they set unnecessary requirements for jobs and peg starting salaries that are far below what competitors are offering. Part of the salesperson’s consultation, therefore, is to educate recruiters and their bosses on today’s reality.

The Employer’s Value Proposition

This is often a delicate topic as it involves the employer’s brand and stature in its market. In addition, it’s also an area over which recruiters have little control. Nevertheless, it’s important to point out that an invisible employer or one with a tarnished reputation will find it harder to attract applicants. To be effective, therefore, a job posting should either reenforce a positive brand or provide information that will minimize the impact of a negative one.

The Company Career Site

Most job seekers today are smart consumers when it comes to evaluating job offers. They do their homework before deciding whether or not to apply. They visit sites like Glassdoor and, almost without exception, the company’s career site. Unfortunately, however, some employers assign a low priority and few resources to the development and/or maintenance of their site. Counseling them to reverse that trend and improve the candidate experience on the site will likely up their application rate.

The Application Process

Making applicants jump through real or virtual hoops – forcing them, for example, to enter personal data multiple times or to fill out an application form that resembles War and Peace – also reduces applicant flow. To help an employer see what it’s like in their process, the salesperson should team up with the recruiter and go through each and every step as a job seeker, looking for requirements or interactions that would turn off potential applicants.

There are undoubtedly other factors that could contribute to an employer getting zilch from its job postings, but these five represent a good place to start in transforming uncomfortable conversations into productive consultations. And, those consultations are the best way to turn zilch into a zillion … or at least enough applicants to fill its openings.

Food for Thought,

Peter Weddle is the author or editor of over two dozen books and a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is also the founder and CEO of TAtech – The Association For Talent Acquisition Solutions. You can download his latest book – The Neonaissance – for free at And, if you don't have time to read the entire book, just download a short excerpt of his inspiring message.