How to A/B Test Job Postings to Attract the Best Candidates

September 30th, 2019

Ever wonder why you post what you feel is a compelling job description but only get limited responses to your job postings? It’s probably not for lack of candidates, but rather the lack of an attention-grabbing post.

For a long time, HR simply posted a job listing and waited for the right candidates to apply. Today more hiring managers are taking cues from marketing professionals, who know that attracting a target audience requires ongoing effort.

If you’ve suffered radio silence after advertising a job, it’s time to go back to science class. In high school, you probably did some type of A/B testing to determine various outcomes. Marketers use this method all the time to compare results for different outreach strategies.

Essentially an A/B test is run on two different yet related things to discover outcome variations. This can be incredibly valuable for hiring managers who have hit dead ends with job postings.

An easy first step into A/B testing is to compare your postings to similar posts from your competitors (i.e., a blind test). Take each and remove any company identifiers (names, logos, letterhead, etc.). Then test them to see which posting people are more likely to apply for. (At least 10 votes is ideal to get useful feedback.) You could do this at a job fair or internally with colleagues who know and understand the role.

Does one get more votes than the other? If so, you can analyze each and pull some powerful elements from the winner to improve the other. It could be the tone, title, length, verbiage — even the font.

Another option is to run the two job postings on aggregators, paid sources, and other outreach methods and see how it impacts your talent pipeline. Your ATS will be able to tell you conversion rates so you know which is the most compelling (winner, winner, chicken dinner).

Keep in mind, there may be elements from each post that are good, so testing should be a continuous process. Sometimes the simplest tweak can open the floodgates, transforming a trickling stream into a massive river of qualified applicants.

Think you’ve got the language, length, and voice down pat and can shelve testing for a bit? Perhaps, but don’t take too long of a break. Candidate preferences and market trends evolve rapidly, so what worked in Q1 may not be effective in Q4. Maintaining that marketing mindset through A/B testing will ensure that you tap top talent pools no matter the month or year.

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