Didn't Get that Interview? It Might be Because You Skimmed the Job Posting

May 2, 2013

Job seekers often complain that job hunting is so time consuming. A new study, however, shows that we actually are not putting a lot of time and effort into searching for jobs and, as a result, are not getting the callbacks we are hoping and waiting for.

According to The Wall Street Journal, job-matching company TheLadders conducted a study to analyze job seeker behavior in order to better understand the job hunting and application process. They looked at how job seekers read job postings, what they focused on and what they missed. While 44 percent of job seekers reported that they typically spend one to five minutes reviewing a job posting (19 percent said they invested up to 10 minutes), further analysis showed this was not the case at all.

The company used eye-tracking technology to analyze how 15 job seekers reviewed five job descriptions, accessing what each person concentrated on and for how long. Results showed that job seekers spent an average of 49.7 seconds reviewing a post before dismissing the position as not a good match. If a position was a match, they spent 76.7 seconds reading about the role. Participants spent the most time reviewing the title, then company info and finally job details, such as salary and recruiter information. Interestingly, once a job seeker decided an opening was a good match, he or she barely reviewed the actual job requirements and skimmed the job description often skipping entire sections, rather than reading through it carefully.

Because of this quick and sloppy review of job ads, a blog post by TheLadders reported that job seekers apply to roles that are a good fit at a rate of just 38 percent. In other words, for every 10 jobs a job seeker applies to, only four are a good match.

“Job seekers and hiring managers alike share a problem with job listings—job seekers apply for jobs they don’t fit, leaving hiring managers with applicants that don’t fit the bill,” said CEO and co-founder of TheLadders Alex Douzet in a press release.

If job seekers really want to find the right match and get that call back, they will need to be more thoughtful when reviewing potential roles. However, as The Wall Street Journal pointed out, it is not solely the job seeker’s fault. Recruiters and hiring managers are also to blame for creating ads that are not easy to understand or sift through. After all, similar to a recruiter going through hundreds of resumes, serious job seekers are also going through dozens of job postings every day. Selena Hadzibabic, director of product and user experience at TheLadders, recommended that employers avoid long paragraphs and blocks of text and instead write descriptions that are easy to scan. Hadzibabic also suggested keeping job titles standard, citing the example of tech startups posting vague titles like software team “ninjas.”

“If you’re looking to hire a Java developer, that’s what the job title should be even though they’re going to join your team of ninjas,” she said in The Wall Street Journal.

Compiled by Heidi M. Agustin


“How We Really Read Job Ads,” blogs.wsj.com, May 2, 2013, Lauren Weber

“Not Hearing Back From Recruiters? We Know Why.” blog.theladders.com, May 2, 2013, Daniel Cronyn

“TheLadders Sheds Light On ‘Black Hole’ For Job Seekers,” theladders.com, May 2, 2013

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