In a tight hiring market, it’s essential that companies and recruiters provide candidates with a positive experience. If the hiring process is smooth and efficient, candidates are more likely to accept a job offer and recommend the company to their peers. 

But when does the candidate experience begin? For many applicants, it’s when they read the job advertisement. There and then, candidates form a strong first impression of the company that will influence their decision about whether to apply for the position.

To discover more about how candidates react to job ads, we surveyed 500 job applicants in Saudi Arabia from late September to mid-December 2021. Read on to discover more about the pivotal role job advertisements play in the candidate experience.

Company reputation critical when applying for new jobs, say 50% of job applicants in Saudi Arabia infographic

What is regarded as the most important element in job ads? 

We asked candidates what they regarded as the most important information contained in job ads, and one element stood out: job title. Almost five in 10 (55%) of those polled said job title is the key piece of data in any job posting, followed by salary (51%) and company name (49%).

Other pieces of information that candidates focus on include:

  • Job location (40%)
  • Position seniority (29%)
  • Publication date (12%)

Candidates like to read!

In this busy world, it may surprise you to learn that 58% of candidates in our survey said they read the whole job advertisement. The remainder said they read 80-90% of the content.  

This preference for reading the whole ad may be linked to accessibility. Many candidates now view job postings on their mobile devices. Over one-third (33%) of those polled said they mainly use mobile devices to read job ads, and 32% use the same devices to apply for the position. And (26%) of candidates still use mainly desktop or laptop computers to submit the application. 

Form can be as important as content

Some recruiters are experimenting with original and creative formats for job ads. But the candidates we polled have different priorities. More than half (48%) said they prefer a professional, detailed format. Around 48% like having short and concise job advertisements, while 34% appreciate an ad that is well-structured with subgroups. 

Candidates want more information

Sometimes, candidates notice what isn’t included in job advertisements as much as what is. For example, (45%) like to see information about company culture.  A similar proportion (42%) of respondents think that job ads should include salary range, while 29% say there are interested in learning more about the organisation’s benefits and perks. 

Using job ads for benchmarking

Not all candidates read job advertisements because they’re interested in applying for the position. Some simply use the information to benchmark the salary and job description of the advertised role against their own terms of employment. However, only 20% of those surveyed say they use job ads to benchmark regularly (at least once a year), while 28% do it every 2-3 years. A large majority (52%) of respondents say they never use job ads for benchmarking.
Other sources of information

Even the most comprehensive job advertisement only tells the candidate a fraction of what they need to know about a company before accepting a position.The vast majority of candidates (86%) polled in our survey also look at the company website. While 75% use online reviews on sites like Glassdoor to help them make an assessment, a lower proportion (70%) look at the organisation’s social media channels. Interestingly, more than half (60%) of the respondents say they try to contact current or former employees to get inside information on the company.

To apply or not to apply?

Of course, not all candidates who read a job ad apply for the position. So, what are the factors that lead them to reject the opportunity? Half (50%) of the respondents say they don’t apply for a position if the company has bad reputation. The second most important factor is if they feel over- or under-qualified for the role. Close to half (44%) of our respondents say they wouldn’t apply for a if they feel over- or under-qualified for the role.

Other criteria include salary (a determining factor for 40% of respondents), inconsistent job ad (33%) and location of the job (24%). Recruiters and hiring managers should note that a full 22% of respondents say they wouldn’t apply for a position if it involved filling out long forms.

Key learnings for recruiters 

Hiring managers and talent acquisition teams can learn the following from our survey data:

  • Job title is an important determinant for candidates while applying for a job after reviewing the description.
  • Candidates like job ads that are comprehensive and professional in both form and content. You risk missing out on top candidates if your ads are difficult to read or contain inconsistent information.
  • E-reputation and employer branding are vital! Before they apply, candidates will assess you and your company culture based on your corporate website, social media channels and employee review sites.

Towards a better candidate experience

Michael Page is committed to providing candidates with the best possible experience, for the benefit of both job seekers and employers. Our recruiters can connect you with top talent for your business in Saudi Arabia, so if you’re looking to hire, contact us today. If you’re looking for your next career opportunities, browse through our jobs in Saudi Arabia, and also visit our Candidate Help Centre.

Get in touch

If you are an employer and would like to talk to us about your current recruitment needs, or learn about the salary benchmarks and skills in demand, then please fill in the form below, and one of our consultants will call you back.

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