What Are Job Seekers Looking for When Applying 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 big 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 reduce 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. 

So what are job seekers looking for when applying to jobs?

What do job seekers look for in a job posting? 

At CareerPlug, we know that the state of the job market is constantly changing, so every year we conduct new research to find out what job seekers are looking for during the hiring process. 

We surveyed 500 recent candidates that have applied to jobs in the last 12 months as a part of our Candidate Experience Report. The majority of job seekers in our survey (57%) have applied to 2-4 jobs in the last year. We asked these job seekers to give us some insight into what influenced their decision to apply to job postings.

what influences job seekers to apply

Let’s dive into each of these reasons and discuss some ideas for how you can attract more high-quality applicants to your job postings

Desired compensation in the job posting

Our data shows that candidates want more information early in the hiring process. 27% of job seekers in our survey expected to be informed about compensation in the initial job post and 23% of job seekers said that seeing their desired compensation in the job posting influenced them to apply. 

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 saves time and effort for you and job seekers alike. 

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.

Benefits offered  

It’s no surprise that job seekers care about the benefits a company offers like 401k and health insurance. 22% of job seekers in our survey cited this as the primary factor influencing their decision to apply.

Showing off the benefits your company offers can  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 paid time off, 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. For the second year in a row, “Benefits offered” was the most popular response among men at over 25%, while around 19% of women chose this response. 

A flexible work schedule 

When asking job seekers what they look for in a job posting, “Advertised a flexible work schedule” was another top response

Try appealing to the growing number of job seekers 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 strong 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. We love this example from our client Hand & Stone who features this video testimonial on their careers page: 

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: 28% 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. 

percentage of candidates that have left a review online

Give all candidates an exceptional candidate experience because online reviews of your company’s hiring process could impact your employer brand and your ability to make the right hires. 

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.

Clearly stated COVID safety protocols in job posting/company website

While this response came in last in our survey, 8% of job seekers are influenced to apply to a job based on COVID safety protocols. 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. If your business or industry has a known need for enhanced COVID protocols – like home health care, for example – including your COVID policies in your job posting and on your company website can make job seekers feel more comfortable. 

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. If needed, consider offering an extra incentive for applicants for those hard to fill positions. It’s still important to communicate COVID safety protocols in your job posting if you have them. 

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

Reach More Job Seekers with CareerPlug

Use our job posting templates to optimize your listing and automatically distribute it to all the major job boards with just one click. And the hiring automations don’t stop there! Click the button below to learn more and get a preview of the software.


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