With more clients adopting programmatic job advertising and continuing to invest additional dollars through this type of buying, I often get asked how we can continually improve on job-level performance. Do we need to increase cost-per-click (CPC) bids? Should we allocate more budget to these hard-to-fill jobs? Are the apply and budget caps set at the right threshold? Of course, one of the many benefits to programmatic advertising is that the advertiser has the ability to adjust all these settings to optimize in favor of the campaign goal.

Generally, programmatic job advertising ensures that budgets are used more efficiently than those without rules or triggers in place. Pretty simple, right? Well, there’s a big variable on advertising performance, and it has to do with the candidate experience throughout the recruitment funnel.

It’s often hard to hear and can lead to some tough conversations, but the candidate experience throughout the recruitment funnel is going to be one of the biggest performance factors. While there are many actions I can take to improve performance on the advertising side, there are undoubtedly factors down the funnel that need to be changed in order to garner the best ROI on ad spend. It will not matter how competitive I set a CPC bid or fine tune sponsorship rules; if a wonky job description, horrible apply process, or damaged employer brand is a deterrent, the poor candidate experience will have negative consequences on performance metrics.


From an advertiser perspective, these three main steps at the top of the recruitment funnel are key indicators in the candidate experience. Note: ?These are general benchmark guidelines to follow. Actual benchmarks will vary by employer depending on numerous factors such as market, industry, and job type.

Improve These 3?? Steps in the #CandidateExperience for Better #RecruitmentAdvertising Performance ?? Click To Tweet

Impression to Click

  • Benchmark: 3% Click-through-Rate (CTR)*(*KRT Marketing Data)

  • Tip: If you’re noticing that impressions aren’t converting into clicks, take a look at your job titles. Job titles that don’t adhere to best practices generally won’t attract candidates to take further action. Nobody wants to learn more about roles like “Chief Marketing Wizard or Sr. Manufacturing Mgr II – Ops Level 1 | Day Shift Job Code: AB2991.” At this point, you really need to take the time and understand if the job title is optimized for keyword-based searches and is geared for the specific job seeker audience you need.

Source: 2019 Appcast Benchmark Report

Click to Apply Start

  • Benchmark: Varies by industry, but aim for a 10% – 20% Click to Apply Start rate. Avoid high drop-off at this point.
  • Tip: This a crucial step? because at this point, a job seeker has clicked on your sponsored job posting (i.e. you paid money to engage them), and they’re reading the job description and deciding if it is worth applying for the position. If high drop-off occurs at this stage, evaluate if your job description is concise, engaging, and speaking to the right audience that clicked on your job title. Job description best practices and brand messaging are the focus at this stage.
  • Bonus Tip: Consider a tool like Textio?or Ongig?to understand how your job description is perceived by a job seeker.

Source: textio.com

Apply Start to Apply Complete

  • Goal: Varies by industry, but aim for a 60%+ Apply Start to Apply Complete rate
  • Tip: It’s all about your apply process at this point. Not optimized for a short-form mobile apply? Have 24 pages of qualifying questions? Your candidate experience is going to suffer as they have to deal with a time-intense commitment that most likely will result in them not getting a response. In today’s labor market, very few candidates will commit this amount of time for an employer whose apply process is a time sink. During this final stage of the apply process, take the time to understand which qualifying questions are absolutely needed versus which ones are just background noise. Your candidates will thank you, and you’ll see an uptick in your apply rate.
You should aim for a 60% Apply Start to Apply Complete rate! #Recruitment #RecruitmentMarketing Click To Tweet

By focusing on changes to these three steps at the top of the funnel, employers will be more equipped to take actionable strategies to focus on down-funnel impacts like qualified candidates and hires.

For instance, a client came to me with the goal of increasing their number of qualified candidates for specific sales roles in key markets. On the surface, this would tell me that at a basic level, I need to increase exposure for their sales jobs on job boards that had delivered quality candidates in the past.

However, by evaluating the recruitment funnel data points, I was able to see that the client had a 2.5% click to apply start rate and a job description that didn’t follow best practice guidelines. This data point tells me that it may not make a difference how many more clicks we deliver, since an overwhelming majority of candidates are reading their job description and deciding not to apply. This would indicate that the job description (and possibly employer brand) was a major deterrent to the job seeker and was not resonating with the “qualified” audience they were hoping to attract.

In comparison, a similar client in the same industry with the exact same job titles had used best practices for their job descriptions and was delivering almost a 10% click-to-apply-start rate with a good ratio of qualified applicants. It was clear that in the former case, down-funnel optimizations needed to take place in order to capture the highest potential ROI on advertising spend. This mutual collaboration and data sharing between the client and the advertiser will generate the most ideal performance outcome as both top-funnel and down-funnel segments are working cohesively to provide the best candidate experience.

At KRT Marketing, we’re all about using full-funnel data points to recommend job advertising strategies for the best candidate experience. Are you having trouble with drop-off in your recruitment funnel? We’re here to help!