Job Seekers Reveal What Attracts Them to Apply to Jobs

If you’ve recently posted a job that has gotten fewer applicants than anticipated, you might be wondering what went wrong. 

With the job market undergoing some major shifts, positions that were once easily filled may sit open for months. The constant recruiting and uncertainty can put added strain on your team and your business. 

In order to mitigate that stress and attract the best talent, it’s important to understand what job seekers are looking for. This isn’t always easy, so at CareerPlug, we decided to go straight to the source! 

We wanted to hear from real job seekers about what attracts them to a job posting and influences their decision to apply. Let’s look at some of the answers job seekers gave and how you can use that knowledge to attract more applicants and make the right hires. 

What do job seekers look for in a job posting? 

At CareerPlug, we are on a mission to make hiring easier, so every year we conduct research to find out what job seekers are looking for during the hiring process. 

This year, we surveyed 500 people as a part of our Candidate Experience Report.  86% of those respondents have applied to at least 2 companies in the last 12 months (50% respondents applied to 2-4 jobs). 

how many jobs do job seekers apply to

We asked these job seekers to give us some insight into what influenced their decision to actually apply to job postings.

what attracts job seekers to apply to companies

Let’s dive into each of these reasons and discuss some ideas for attracting more applicants to your job postings

Benefits offered  

It’s no surprise that job seekers care about the benefits a company offers like 401k and health insurance. The majority of respondents in our survey cited this as the primary factor influencing their decision to apply.

Use this knowledge to make your job posting more attractive. Even if you don’t offer your employees the typical benefits like health insurance, you can still outline the benefits you do have like PTO, ongoing education opportunities, transportation reimbursement, etc. Great employee perks can put you at an advantage for both hiring and retention. 

 Fun fact: One interesting trend we noticed is that men and women responded differently when asked which factors affect their decision to apply to a job. “Benefits offered” was the most popular response among men at nearly 25%, while 15% of women chose this response. The most popular response for women was “a flexible work schedule” (more on that in a bit).

Desired compensation listed in job posting

Our data shows that candidates want more information early in the hiring process. 39% of job seekers in our survey expected to be informed about compensation in the initial job post and 19% of job seekers said that seeing their desired compensation in the job posting influenced them to apply. 

job seekers want compensation advertised in job posting

An effective job posting lists compensation and benefits as well as accurately outlines the role and responsibilities. This transparency up front is a good look! It helps job seekers determine if they want to apply to your role and save both you and job seekers time and effort. 

Pro Tip: Never include the compensation or the signing bonus in the job title on job boards. Major job boards, like Indeed, remove jobs with title modifications. Instead, have a standard job title and attach compensation to the job posting in the appropriate spot.

A flexible work schedule 

When asking job seekers what they look for in a job posting, “Advertised a flexible work schedule” was the most popular response among women at 23%. This makes sense as many working women were impacted by the pandemic due to disruptions in schooling and child care. Some had to minimize working hours or drop out of the workforce entirely. 

Try appealing to women who want flexible work. If the position you’re hiring for offers a lot of autonomy, flexibility in shift scheduling, or the option to work remotely, make sure to highlight that in the job posting. 

A good employer reputation/brand 

More job seekers will want to apply to your job posting if you have a great employer brand. On the flip side, if you have a negative reputation as a not-so-great place to work, it can be nearly impossible to get good applicants! 

We believe that you can showcase your employer brand and give job seekers insight into your workplace atmosphere with the right job posting and a branded careers page. Use your careers page to highlight your values and share photos of current employees and positive employee testimonials

The treatment you give to candidates that make it to the interviewing process can also impact your employer brand whether you end up hiring them or not. Consider this: 37% of respondents said they have left a negative review online after having a negative candidate experience. This is significant because over half of job seekers abandon their pursuit of a company after reading negative reviews. 

negative company reviews online

Give all candidates an exceptional candidate experience because negative reviews of your company’s hiring process could negatively impact your employer brand and discourage people from applying. 

Clearly stated COVID safety protocols in job posting/company website

A U.S. Census survey conducted in March 2021 found that 4.2 million adults are not working because they are worried about getting or spreading COVID-19. Our research also suggests that COVID safety protocols are now a point of consideration for job seekers. 

Job seekers want to know what you are doing to keep them healthy and safe, especially in industries where working remotely isn’t an option. Consider including your COVID policies in your job posting and on your company website to make job seekers feel more comfortable. 

An incentive to apply 

Another thing that job seekers are thinking about these days is any extra incentive to apply like a signing or retention bonus. As the demand for labor increases, more and more employers are adding incentives to their job postings. This can help a job posting stand out in the sea of overcrowded job boards and might be a practice to consider for any business struggling to get applicants. 

As with compensation, don’t include the signing bonus in the job title on job boards. Add it to the appropriate spot in your job posting.

Final thoughts

Job seekers have more options than ever these days, so it’s important to create an accurate job posting that highlights the things that matter. Remember: the purpose of a hiring process isn’t to attract the most applicants – it’s to attract the right applicants for your role.

Transparency on compensation, benefits, and the typical work schedule can help job seekers determine if it’s a good fit. Being a good place to work will positively impact your employer brand and make it easier to attract and hire the right applicants. It’s also important to develop COVID safety protocols and make those clear in your job posting. If needed, consider offering an extra incentive for applicants for those hard-to-fill positions. 

Lastly, using an applicant tracking system (ATS) like CareerPlug can help you attract the right applicants for your roles with compelling job postings. 

2021 Candidate Experience Report

To learn more about what real job seekers are looking for and how to improve your hiring process, download this year’s Candidate Experience Report.


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