Ever wondered why your perfectly written job ads don’t attract top applicants?

For a long time, starting the job listing with a company self-introduction paragraph has been considered a best practice. The bigger the brand, the higher the interest of the candidates.


Somehow, the job listings of our tech and startup clients always attracted more top applicants who were genuinely interested in the job and the company than the big brands.  Indeed, the big brands attracted many views, but the candidates abandoned the job listing in less than 20sec and very few candidates applied. Even more, most applicants had less than 2 matching skills if compared to 5+ matching skills possessed by the candidates who applied to tech companies and startups.  To dig deeper, Transformify team decided to conduct a CrazyEgg analysis.


Can you see that?

Thousands of views but the viewers scroll down or abandon the job listing. They check the name of the brand and the role title, and then, either abandon the job ad or scroll right to the end. Our initial thought was that these are not quality applicants and they are just flipping through all listed roles. However, after three months of monitoring applicants’ behaviour, we found a clear pattern. It was all about the outlay of the job ad, the length, and the value proposition. The clearer and shorter, the better.

 Using CrazyEgg, we monitored the applicants in real time and watched the video recordings over and over again. 90% of the applicants checked the brand name for a second, searched for the offer for 3 seconds, and if not found instantly, scrolled to the end, or abandoned the job ad.


  1. Unmatched expectations

‘’Big brand’’ job ads attracted 4x more views but 5x less applicants, let alone quality applicants. The average number of matching skills was 2 and 30% of the applicants rejected a job offer after the third interview stating that their expectations have not been met.

It was surprising, as Transformify free ATS (Applicant Tracking System) provides a laser cut information to the employers about the number of matching skills, the salary expectations, the location, etc. of the applicants. Why a recruiter would contact a candidate whose salary expectations clearly exceed the budget and the skills are not a good match? Still, many recruiters contacted the candidates with an attempt to renegotiate the pay rate or even to offer a different role.

ATS (Applicant Tracking Sysytem) Transformify

On the contrary, most startups , and small and medium companies involved the team leads in the hiring process. As a result, less than 3% of the candidates have rejected a job offer stating that they had received two job offers and had to make a choice or that their current employer had made a contra offer they decided to accept. 

In addition, some big companies have a very complex hierarchy and the job titles are not easy to comprehend. A ‘’Global Process Owner’’ may be at a Director or Manager level, may or may not have decision making power, may be in charge of a 1000 FTEs or just 3. It’s easy for the candidates to be misled if information about the level of the job, the size of the team, and the direct reporting line is not provided at all.


2.       The applicants don’t care that much about the company or the brand, they care about themselves


All job listings starting with a clear value proposition enjoyed high interest and many top applicants. A typical startup job ad would start with:

 ‘’ Help us build the next Twitter. Join a team of hustlers who never take ‘no’ for an answer and enjoy flexible working hours, a vibrant working environment and a package like no other. ‘’ ,

 Followed by:

  • the exact offer;
  • the job description;
  • the specific requirements, and finally,
  • a paragraph about the company and why it’s great.

A typical corporate ‘’big brand’’ job listing would start with:

“X’’ is a multi-award winning and leading financial services company that continues to grow market share in the highly competitive lending sector. Empowered by technology, a superior offering, agility and transparency are well placed to continue our expansion. Our product offering is superior to that of all other market players and we constantly add new products and services.’’

Followed by:

  • 3 more company self-promotion paragraphs;
  •  the requirements;
  •  the job description, and eventually
  • a ‘’pay rate above the market average’’ or ‘’a competitive pay rate’’

Conveying the corporate culture and values would be a much better alternative to promoting the company. The job site Monster has come to the same conclusions.

  1. Too long

A very long job description full of buzz words or requirements almost impossible to fulfil is definitely resulting in a high abandon rate. After all, science claims that humans have a shorter attention span than goldfish and Microsoft theorized that weaker attention span may be a side effect of evolving to a mobile Internet. Almost everyone has a smart phone these days and the top applicants are not an exception. Would you read a 1500 words job ad on your mobile phone? Very unlikely.

  1. Complex requirements that significantly limit the pool of available applicants

The same applies to the very complex requirements. In the past, we came across job postings requiring a candidate who is:

‘’ 60% percent disabled, French but speaks fluent English, lives in a small city in France, has excellent soft and negotiation skills, 5+ years of experience with Salesforce, and a track record of closing deals of EUR 3mio+’’.

Often travel and attending conferences, events, and trade shows to acquire new clients were part of the job, too. Needless to say, a person with a 60% disability is very unlikely to fulfil all the requirements. As a result, the employer either receives very few applications and loses potentially good candidates, or receives a number of applications having nothing to do with the requirements. Some applicants are interested in the role and know that the company will be pushed to hire someone who is not necessarily matching the requirements.

A well-balanced job listing would focus on the ‘’must have’’ competences and state the rest as an advantage. Using keywords to describe the competences instead of lengthy descriptions helps a lot, too. First, the keywords are easier to comprehend, and second, the keywords are recognized by the search engines and increase the chances of the job listing being served to people possessing relevant skills.

  1. No information about ‘’what’s there for them’’

A vague statement that the pay rate is above the average or the role pays a competitive salary is not enough to attract the attention of the top applicants. They want to know in advance if flexible work and telecommuting are allowed, how many days of paid leave they will be entitled to, are health insurance, child and dental care included in the pack, etc. The job listings disclosing no information at all about the package normally received 5x less applicants even if the brand was well-known.