Research shows that you only have 49.7 seconds to engage job seekers.
So, how do you craft concise, organized job descriptions capable of relaying all the information someone needs to decide if they’re a good fit for your open role – in under one minute?
Rather than spouting standard recommendations you could find in any old blog post, let’s look at what research tells us.
Eye-tracking study reveals a harsh truth about job seekers
In 2013, TheLadders conducted an in-depth eye-tracking study with job seekers. They asked participants to self-report how much time they spent reading job descriptions before deciding to pursue the opportunity.
- 44% of job-seekers claimed they spend one to five minutes reading job descriptions before deciding whether to pursue them or not.
- 19% said they invest up to 10 minutes reading a posting on the first pass.
But what actually happens?
After collecting this self-reported baseline data, researchers performed an eye-tracking study with those same job-seekers. The team used software to record where each potential applicant’s eyes landed on the job description page and for how long.
The analysis revealed that job-seekers looked at a post for an average of 49.7 seconds before dismissing a position as a poor fit. If the job appeared to match their skills and interest? Job seekers sacrificed 76.7 seconds of their attention to review the post.
Though this study was conducted some years ago, one can only infer that modern job seekers are even more likely to skim job postings in an even bigger hurry.
The question is why?
- Job seekers are inundated with hundreds of postings.
After looking at the first few, it becomes tiring to read the same basic content over and over again, increasing the likelihood of a good skim. Especially early in a job hunt, when candidates are really just looking to absorb the broad strokes.
- Many applicants have been victimized by a misleading job posting.
Poorly written, ambiguous, or straight-up misleading job descriptions run rampant – so there’s a weariness to reading too deeply into a job description. Any marketer can tell you how frustrating it is to see job after job looking for a ‘marketing specialist’ when what the company actually means is ‘salesperson.’
- The application process is still dreadfully redundant – and we’re busy people.
This is likely the most significant factor for most of us. No matter what task is put in front of us, we’re antsy to get it off our plate ASAP, and putting in job applications is no exception. The fact that so much of the process is still manual and requires you to fill out the same forms over and over and over again certainly doesn’t help.
So, where do job-seekers focus their limited attention?
First, they look for:
- job title
- company information
- details, including salary and recruiter information
That’s where the eye travels on the page first – but where do applicants spend most of their time when they review a job description?
Priorities by time spent:
- job description (25.9 seconds)
- about the company (23 seconds)
- job requirements (14.6 seconds)
Based on these numbers, we can infer that candidates are most interested in the ‘what’s in it for me’ elements of a job post– which makes a lot of sense if they’re early in their search. It’s also good to note that many candidates skipped the bottom section of the job description entirely, so it may be wise to make sure you’re not putting any critical information in that section.
Now, let’s talk about how you write a job description that will engage and resonate with a modern job-seeker based on what we’ve learned from how recruiters look at resumes.