These Minor Tweaks to Your Job Ads Can Give Your Apply Rates a Powerful Boost

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The war for top talent is in full effect as US employers ramp up hiring efforts at a record pace. To attract qualified candidates and ensure business continuity post-pandemic, an effective job advertising strategy is key. Recruiters must learn the factors playing into candidate behavior and recruitment outcomes if they wish to boost ROI and meet hiring goals in the current talent market.

First, it is vital to understand why job ads might not be resonating with job seekers. Luckily, most recruiters do not need to reinvent the wheel to develop job ad strategies that deliver results. Often, a few tweaks can drive a massive uptick in applicant volume. According to data gathered from Appcast’s fifth annual Recruitment Marketing Benchmark Report , these small changes might mean adjusting job ad timing, rethinking job titles, and optimizing mobile application processes.

Appcast’s report examined 2020 job ad data — 125 million job ad clicks and 7 million applies — from nearly 1,300 US employers. The findings reveal key candidate behavior trends and shed light on the factors that impact recruiting results. Let’s take a deeper look at what the data uncovered.

Note: The data views in this article focus on apply rate, which is considered one of the most effective conversion metrics for evaluating job ad performance. Apply rate is defined as the number of people who actually submit an application after clicking on a job ad, represented as a percentage. For example, if 10 people click on a job ad, and one of them submits an application, the apply rate would be 10 percent. It should also be noted that apply rates have a direct correlation with recruiting costs: A lower apply rate means a higher cost per applicant, while a higher apply rate yields a lower cost per applicant.

Prioritize Improvements to Mobile Application Processes

Mobile devices were imperative in 2020, and not just for keeping up with friends and loved ones or finding new quarantine recipes. According to Appcasts’s data, mobile applications surpassed desktop applications for the first time in 2020.

In fact, in 2020, 60.7 percent of job applications were completed on mobile devices, compared to 39.3 percent on desktop. Desktop apply rates decreased by 6.7 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. In contrast, there was a 21.2 percent increase in mobile apply rates in 2020 compared to 2019. These numbers speak for themselves: Mobile applications are here to stay. The mobile takeover reflects how job-seeking habits and consumer habits are more closely aligned than employers realize.

However, clicking on ads does not guarantee a job seeker will apply. To that end, recruiters must identify areas where candidate drop-off occurs and changes that could bolster ad performance. For example, minor tweaks to boost mobile apply rates might include ensuring the application process is compatible with every mobile browser and not requiring a resume upload on smartphones.

Understanding how your particular target audience is most likely to apply for jobs is key to fine-tuning your recruitment strategy, as apply rates and volume vary by industry. Recruiters can also identify opportunities for improvement by applying for their own jobs on both mobile and desktop, testing ads, and looking for ways to remove friction from the process.

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Post Jobs When Job Seekers Are Most Active

In general, people search and apply for jobs during the traditional workweek, regardless of whether they are employed. Interestingly, the pattern has remained consistent over the past few years, no matter the unemployment rate.

During the workweek, applies fluctuate slightly, with most occurring on Tuesdays (17.6 percent), followed by Monday (17.3 percent), Wednesday (16.9 percent), and Thursday (14.5 percent).

Translation? Post your job ads early in the week for optimal results.

As mentioned earlier, people love their mobile devices, and they’re using them more and more to apply for jobs. Mobile applications account for more than half of all weekend applications, with 61.48 percent of Saturday applications and 61.99 percent of Sunday applications occurring via mobile. This trend emphasizes the urgent need to optimize the mobile application experience.

Keep Job Titles Short

To learn how job titles make or break recruitment results, Appcast researchers analyzed 34.7 million job ads and 642,298 unique job titles from the last year. Short job titles appear to be favorites among prospective job seekers. In fact, job ads with titles between one and three words had both the highest number of clicks (at 2.68 clicks per ad) and the highest apply rate at 6.22 percent.

There may be cases when a lengthier title is necessary to convey an important aspect of the job. Examples we’ve seen? Adding “hiring now” or “remote” to the job title in an ad during periods of high unemployment to boost engagement.


Finding the right candidates as quickly and efficiently as possible directly impacts a company’s growth and ability to meet business objectives. Unfortunately, sourcing the right talent became exponentially more difficult during this past year, and that challenge will continue as economic recovery spurs hiring surges and unemployment steadily drops.

As demand for candidates spikes, organizations are grappling with an entirely new set of challenges in the war for talent. To better position themselves to reach candidates, they must evaluate candidate behavior and bolster job ad performance. Luckily, taking one small step — like tweaking job ad timing or shortening job titles — can have a large and scalable impact on the hiring funnel.

Heather Salerno is SVP, marketing, at Appcast.

By Heather Salerno