Why Direct Job Ads are Failing Employers


By Ita McNeil-Jones, Sitka Recruitment

“We thought placing a direct ad would attract the right talent, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.”

This is what one of our public sector clients had to say after unsuccessfully attempting to attract senior marketing candidates via their own website.

This experience isn’t uncommon.  Although placing a job advert and waiting for the applications to come in might seem easy enough to manage in-house, the hard work and cost direct ads generate is usually not – particularly when it comes to more senior roles where the stakes are higher.

Here are some of the reasons that direct ads often lead to failure instead of success:

Inefficient screening

Manpower’s 2018 talent shortage report concluded that recruiters are facing an increasing struggle to recruit people with the soft skills they need, but job ads make it notoriously difficult to screen for these.

Recent research found that almost two thirds (62%) of job adverts no longer require applicants to submit CVs, preferring to use methods such as Application Tracking Software (ATS), questionnaires and video interviewing. While these are undoubtedly more helpful than a CV for screening soft skills, by the time you get to them, you have already invested a lot of time and effort attracting unsuitable candidates. Worse still, they are not fool proof. Many organisations don’t discover missing soft skills until they’ve actually hired someone.

In short, there is no substitute for screening candidates than the one-to-one candidate relationships a good recruiter has spent years building.

More competition

While there has been a dip in professional employment in some sectors in Wales recently, other sectors such as accounting have seen a rise in available roles according to new data from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo). We can assume that once there has finally been an outcome with regard to Brexit, vacancies will increase across the board, which means candidates will have more options open to them. With stats indicating that the best candidates now get snapped up within just ten days, direct ads alone are no longer a strategically viable way to recruit them.

Some 72% of SMEs are already experiencing more competition now than they have over the past 3 years, so there has never been a better time to explore alternatives to direct advertising.

Hidden costs

Oleeo found that businesses employing up to 250 people see 39% of their new employees leave within six months. In addition, a large number of candidates renege on job offers, leading to lengthy and costly repeat recruitment processes.

In our experience, candidate expectations play a large factor in this, since direct ads usually don’t include salary figures or adequate information about the company culture. As such, candidates often end up making assumptions and becoming dissatisfied.

Another factor is most likely the recruitment process itself. With the average recruitment process now requiring around 91 touch points, many quality checks are neglected in the rush to recruit quickly.

A good recruitment partner can help organisations avoid the hidden costs of recruitment by spending a significant amount of time engaging prospective candidates in conversation and making their expectations clear to employers.

Lack of diversity

By posting online, you limit the pool of candidates, not just in the sense of only reaching the 27% of candidates actively seeking a new job but in terms of variety too – not ideal if you’re looking to increase employee diversity.

As an example, in a recent People Management article, Emily Andrews at the Centre for Ageing Better advised that employers can hire more age-positively “by using multiple channels to advertise vacancies rather than just online, using age-neutral language and images in job adverts, and having ‘blind’ application processes to minimise age bias in recruitment.”

A good recruitment partner will dedicate the time needed for a more proactive approach to finding the right people for your organisation, which will help you maximise both the width and breadth of your audience.

Thankfully, we were able to help our aforementioned client find someone ideal for the role – and it wasn’t through a direct ad. “For this particular role,” they said, “we would have been better off working with Sitka from the outset to save time and to ensure we attracted the right calibre of candidate”.