Coburg Banks | Multi-sector UK recruitment agency

4 Critical Mistakes Everyone Makes When Advertising a Job Online

By James Ball | Feb 20, 2015 | Attracting Staff

So you’ve written the perfect ad and your support team is ready to be inundated with applications.  You post your advert, then nothing.

No applications.  No enquiries.  Not a dickie bird.

Or worse, you receive thousands of totally inappropriate applications.

These days, advertising your role on an online job board is vital if you want to ensure that your recruitment campaign is a success.  Job boards are an essential recruitment tool and they’re the first port of call for any job seeker.  However, knowing which ones to advertise on and how to get the best out of them isn’t easy.

How to get it right.

There are some major, but subtle elements you need to get absolutely right to maximise the opportunity of your vacancies being seen by the right people.

Every element contributes to how highly your vacancy ranks on a relevant individual’s search, much in the same way that Google works, so you really need to focus on this and get it right.

Here are 4 of the biggest mistakes that people make when advertising a job online which will kill your hunt stone dead, along with some hints and tips on how to avoid them.

1. Advertising in the wrong place

Just because you hired a great Accountant from Monster, or your legendary PA from Career Builder, it doesn’t mean that they’re the go-to places to find your long-sought IT Manager.  If you’re on the lookout for a specific skillset then you need advertise your role on a job board that caters for that kind of person.

Advertising a complex job in the wrong place is like trying to sell your car in the ‘homes and garden’ section of the classifieds.  It might work, but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t.

The whole process isn’t dissimilar to fishing.  If you blindly cast into random water you can spend days catching nothing at all.  However, once you know which bit of the water you should be dropping your line into, you’ll suddenly find that you can catch the juiciest fish.

There are over 2,000 UK job boards out there, and they all have their own USP.  Knowing where to post your advert, then, is a potential minefield.

Choices, choices, choices

Of course there are the old favourites, the generic giants like Monster, CV Library and Total Jobs, which cover most roles and generally provide decent results.

The issue with them though is that despite their popularity, these boards are generalists and don’t specialise in any particular sector.  As a result, this can impact the quality of people seeing and applying to your roles.  The knock-on effect of that is being inundated with inappropriate applications and more sifting work for you support team to conduct.

There are however, a huge number of niche job boards that cater for specific industries or sectors, which can help eliminate that problem.  These boards, in some instances, are the go-to hang outs for experts in that particular industry.

For example, taking the IT Manager requirement above, you’d potentially look to CW Jobs or Jobserve as niche job boards that service the IT industry, to home in on the perfect specialist.

Bear in mind that the average job seeker uses up to 16 job boards during their search, depending on the industry.  So if you just pick one to advertise on you’ll potentially miss the perfect candidate as they could be looking somewhere else.

Alternatively, you could advertise on a few and cover all your bases, but that gets very expensive, very quickly (job boards each charge up to £400 per vacancy for a 4 week listing, depending on the board, with no come-back if it doesn’t work).

Recruitment agencies often have access to large numbers of these boards, which saves you the hassle and expense of setting up your own job board contracts.

“I don’t want to use an agency because of the cost,” I hear you say.  Well that’s fair enough.

But once you factor in the time it takes to navigate the labyrinth of job boards out there as well, and the initial cost of the advertising on job boards (especially if you choose more than one), as well as getting to grips with how their individual web coding systems work, before you even think about managing the response, then working with experts who know your sector inside out and do this day-in and day-out, suddenly doesn’t sound quite so unattractive.

If you do opt to engage a recruitment consultant, though, heed this warning:  Ask them in advance which job boards they intend to use and why.

The job boards they have access to will have a major impact on the quality of your candidates, so make sure they’re advertising in the right places for your perfect hire.

Recruiter Pro Tip:

Carefully research all of the job boards out there and their relevancy for your vacancy/advert.  Posting one advert on a single job board can be an expensive exercise so be as thorough as you can with this exercise.

When you consider where to advertise, think of your intended audience and where your ideal candidates hang out – those are the places you want to advertise.  If you need any advice, call a Recruitment Agency that specialises in your field – they will normally be very willing to help you out.

2. The ‘No Salary’ red flag

If you were looking for a new job, how would you search on a job board?

Most probably, you’d enter your desired job title, location and salary and then a number of resulting jobs will appear in a list.  The most relevant results appear at the top, and results scale down the page with decreasing relevancy.

In a previous blog I talked about the reasons why it’s really good practice to include a salary in a job advert.

However, from a technical point of view, not coding your advert up with a salary will detrimentally harm your job’s ranking on the board’s search engine, as the salary of a role plays a huge part in the that advert’s relevancy score on a job board.

Jobsite claim that not putting a salary on an advert can detrimentally affect response rates by up to 50%.

Think about it:  Would you really apply for a job when you don’t know how much you’ll get paid?

Some companies maintain that they need to keep the salaries confidential in order to avoid offending existing employees, and others simply refuse to publicise salaries as a matter of principle.

Some even want to leave themselves some wriggle room during the employment process.  However, leaving a salary off your advert will harm your candidate attraction rates and reduce your advertising ROI.

Recruiter Pro Tip:

If your company policies allow it, always advertise a salary on your job ads.

If you can’t or don’t want to be specific, advertise the role as “Up to £xx,000 basic salary, depending on experience”.

This way you can be vague enough to avoid internal embarrassment, but precise enough to attract the right candidates for your advertised position.

3. The importance of coding your advert correctly

The software that governs how a job board works is essentially really simple:

You tell it what kind of job your position is, the sector it belongs in, any key skills that are required, then you input the advert text, press submit and hope for the best.

Sound too good to be true?  It is.

Whilst the software is simple and the options appear straightforward at first glance, you always need to consider your audience.

Let’s consider our IT Manager example above, and let’s say that you are a manufacturing business:  When you code your advert’s industrial sector (which is one of the options you have to select), do you opt for ‘Manufacturing’ or ‘IT’?

Both of them are options, yet IT isn’t technically a sector.  It’s easy (and potentially very costly) to get this wrong.

Where do your ideal candidates hang out?

Job boards have huge databases of candidates that receive job vacancies by email 24 hours after they’ve been published.  For Jobsite, this ‘jobs-by-email’ database accounts for up to 50% of all applications that you’ll receive to your advert.

The segment of the database that receives your job in their inbox depends on the industrial sector you’ve chosen.  So you can see the importance of getting that option absolutely right.

It’s the same with location. If you’re based in a tiny village, you can stay hidden from view when candidates go looking for a defined area.

However if you broaden the advert to the nearest city, then explain in the advert content where the job is located, you are guaranteed to get more views and, hopefully, more relevant applications.  Some job boards even allow you to select multiple locations to increase the catchment area of your vacancy.

Recruiter Pro Tip:

Always, always, always think of the people you’re trying to attract with your advert.  We call it ‘reverse-engineering’, but once you understand the people that you’re trying to attract to your advert, you have to think backwards and build your advert around it.

This means that coding the job’s sector, location, and salary correctly is essential to an advert’s success.  In addition to this, remember that it is vital to choose a job title for your role which will be searched by the right people for your vacancy.

Do your research and find out which job titles and salaries are attractive for the people you’re looking to recruit.

4. Structure your advert in a way that’s optimised for mobile

Mobile traffic accounted for 54% of online giant Indeed’s traffic in 2014 and this number is growing every year.

The way people use their mobile devices plays a huge part in how you should structure your advert.  Most people use their phones on downtime, such as the commute, lunch times or evenings at home.

Most job boards now have ‘responsive’ websites.  This means that the visible panel that people can see when they view the job board through their mobile is optimised to make it easier for people to read.

Font size is increased, images are removed, and the whole page is reorganised to give it a less-cluttered feel – if you’re reading this blog through a mobile you’ll understand what I mean.

The digital mobile revolution.

This is a game-changer and changes the way in which you should approach your job advertising.  With a smaller window to play with, and fewer visible words on display, you have to be clever with your wording and think about how you can grab someone’s attention very quickly.

People don’t like unnecessary scrolling either, so bear that in mind.  Ultimately, even though someone might be on the bus or train on the way home, time is still precious and you won’t have long to grab their attention.

Recruiter Pro Tip:

Pick up your mobile and go to Jobsite, and click on one of the jobs.  Have a look at the amount of space you have to play with and what opportunity you have to grab someone’s attention.

It isn’t a lot.

To get a broader perspective, have a look at a few jobs and see how other companies approach it – some are good, some are terrible.

This is common across job boards – if you want other examples try it with Total Jobs and Monster.  The approach needs to be the same.

When you build your advert, use punchy copy that’s pertinent and to-the-point allows you to get your message across quickly. This will grab interest and attract applications. Bullet points and lists will also help break up a block of text.


The sole objective for your job advert must be to get large numbers of the right kind of people seeing it.  That’s where the selection of the right job boards and effective coding of the advert is essential.  Then you need to create copy for your advert that is that is engaging and entices the reader to click the ‘apply’ button.

Our blog here looks at how you should approach writing your advert copy to give you the best chance of making your recruitment campaign a success.

There is a science to advertising a job online, and getting it right takes time and patience.  But follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to having your vacancy appear on the #1 position on the job boards’ search engines.

- James Ball

James Ball

James is the founder and owner of Coburg Banks and a recruitment expert from Sutton Coldfield in the UK.  He regularly advises companies on how to improve and get the maximum ROI from their recruitment processes.

> More blog posts by James Ball

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