photo of woman with questioning look in HR Examiner article about Candidate Experience

Like cramming for a math final after skipping the class all semester, the active job hunter is faced with a sea of conflicting number one priorities.

One of the fatal flaws in the current thinking about “Candidate Experience” is the idea that a good experience is a ‘one size fits all’ sort of thing. Job Ads and the experience that surrounds them have to be relevant to a broad range of lookers with a broad range of emotions, backgrounds and interests.

Imagine the anxiety levels of some one who is desperate to find work and required to sift through a database of a half million job offerings. The combination of tedious work and the desire to get something done is a standard part of the Job Hunter’s Mindset. The Internet amplifies the intensity significantly.

Like cramming for a math final after skipping the class all semester, the active job hunter is faced with a sea of conflicting number one priorities, often without the resources required to effectively fill in all of the blanks. Clarity about the next step, self-confidence (in spite of whatever prompted the need to shift jobs), an orientation of accomplishment and a clear sense of “What Do I Want To Do” are the most basic components of this standard recipe for a nervous breakdown.

That’s right, people who are actively looking for work tend to be scattered and faking it. Otherwise, the layers of embedded conflict would eat them alive.

When you write for this audience (and, by definition, the 6.9% of all Internet users who visit a job site each month are in this category), understand that you are dealing with explosive levels of conflicting value. What feels good is certainty and the ability to relieve the tension.

When job hunters are given the opportunity to examine endless opportunities, what do you think they do? Truth is that after about a dozen thorough readings of job ads, they revert to skimming. The web actively encourages this approach…it’s a skimming medium. Following a skimming phase, the job hunter reverts to reviewing opportunities briefly and punching a resume button in response.

It’s extremely Pavlovian.

Under the right circumstances, a job hunter can submit around 600 resumes in a 10 hour day of looking for work. That’s what they tend to do unless you can reach them early on (by getting the data right) with a compelling story (content) about why they should apply to you.

It’s a difficult audience with an extremely high payoff.

The most important thing to remember when crafting advertisements for this group is that they are not “passive”. Delivering ads to a “passive” audience requires an entirely different set of tactics.

In addition to your basic “in the process” job hunter, there are several other audiences you might consider as targets for a job ad. It’s useful to remember that reaching different audiences usually involves the use of different properties. Reaching the active job hunter is easy, thinking about the motivations and web browsing habits of other target audiences is not as easy. The reason that a competitive advantage can be gained by focusing on audiences and the web sites that reach them is precisely the result of the hard work involved.

Picking the target audience is a part of the preparation process for developing an ad. A general rule of thumb is that the more gainfully employed your target is, the further away from overt employment sites you want to go.

When thinking about audience reach, you might imagine a scale of receptiveness to an employment message:

  • Desperately Looking
  • Worried and Looking
  • Frustrated and Looking
  • Contractors and Temps
  • Layoff Witnesses (Not Looking but Should)
  • Planning and Researching (Soon To Be Looking)
  • Wanting More Money In Current Job
  • Craving More Challenge In Current Job
  • Looking To Improve Performance In Current Job (A Highly Desirable Bunch)
  • Lifestyle Changes Bring Financial Needs (Frustrated for Non Job Reasons)
  • Fast Trackers (Happy in Current Job but Easily Dissatisfied)
  • Happy In Current Job
  • Working to Pay The Rent

(Isn’t it interesting that the desirability of a potential employee is almost inversely related to the position on this list?)

While the scale isn’t perfect or complete, it is clear that you would reach out to each segment with a different message.)

You can further segment the list by profession and geography. Depending on which segment you wish to reach, you use a different message and (most likely) a different communications platform (property).

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