Hiring the right people can be difficult. You must sort through resumes, vet candidates, manage interview processes and then make an offer that persuades your top pick to say yes to the desk (or workstation, vehicle, counter or other workspace).

All of this is made almost impossible if your job posting and description aren't drawing applications. Without quality resumes, you can't get started with the rest of the process. Here are eight common reasons you're not receiving job applications in response to your postings.

1. your job description is boring

You don't need to be a comedian or turn job postings into page-turning thrillers, but you do need to hook applicants with easy-to-read, interesting information about the job and why they'd want to work for your company.  Here are some dos and don'ts to consider if you want to write job descriptions that boost applicant rates:

  • Do include information to help candidates self-select appropriately, including the skills and experience that are required for the job. Write these in a friendly and concise way and avoid sounding overly demanding or impossible to please.
  • Don't use long lists of cliched words. If you're using a ton of buzzwords, your postings look like everyone else's. That's not interesting.
  • Do share about perks, benefits and work culture to help job seekers understand what it's like to work for you.
  • Don't make it excruciatingly long. Job seekers are busy too, and if they can't quickly scan your posting to get an idea of whether they might be interested, they may skip it altogether.
  • Do write inclusive job descriptions to widen the net you're casting for applicants.

2. your employer brand reputation is poor

Strong candidates often know they bring value to the employer they choose, and they're looking for a business that offers them value too. That means they'll research your brand before they apply or decide to accept an offer. Some things people might look into before responding to a job application include:

  • Your brand mission, vision and values. Many people want to know that the company they're working for has values that align with their own.
  • Whether you treat employees well. Bad reviews from previous employees or published HR controversies can make people more wary when considering a job with you.
  • Your position in the market. Some people want to work for a company they can proudly tell others about. If your brand reputation leaves something to be desired, they might balk at accepting a job with you or even applying. 

3. you didn't include the right keywords

SEO (that's search engine optimization) is as important for job postings as it is for website copy. Whether people are searching in Google or on a specific job board site, the right keywords in your job posting help them find it.

Consider what phrases qualified applicants might use when searching for open positions and include those words in your job description. 

4. you posted it in the wrong place

Posting a job is a form of marketing. When you're marketing your business products or services, you usually do the research to find out where your audience is so you can advertise and post there. You have to do the same with a job posting.

For example, LinkedIn is a channel for professional job seekers. People who are looking for blue collar or industrial jobs are unlikely to use it as a resource, so posting a warehouse driver or machinist job there is unlikely to draw a lot of applicants. 

5. you didn't explain the job clearly

Job postings are not the time to be mysterious. Job seekers want to understand what the job entails and whether they might be a good fit for the position. If you're not clear enough, they're not going to spend their time sending in a resume.

When you're clear about what you need, it's easier for applicants to customize their resumes and cover letters to let you know how they can help. That reduces the time it takes for you to sort through the applications you do receive to find the ones that might be a good fit.

6. you asked for too much

Yes, you should always make it clear what your expectations for a qualified applicant are. But remember that every must-have you add to a job posting reduces the number of people who might apply. That's because a laundry list of specific must-haves usually doesn't correlate to the real-world experience of a high number of candidates. Instead, set priorities before you create a job description so you can ask for a few appropriate must-haves.

7. the user application experience is poor

Even if you ace the job posting and get a ton of people reading it, you can still scare off candidates with a poor user experience. If your career portal is slow or confusing to navigate, or the application process takes forever and requires unnecessary information and details, people might leave before they finish their application.  Ensure the application process works as intended and streamline it as much as possible. Test the application process yourself, and be honest if you would go through the same process to apply to a job.

8. your budget isn't sufficient

Recruiting great candidates is rarely free. Sure you may get lucky on free platforms once in a while, but generally you need to pay to access skilled candidates, especially if you’re looking for specialized skill sets. If you're seeking top-tier candidates but you won't shell out to post anywhere but free recruiting sites, you may not get the results you’re hoping for. Being cheap with your recruiting processes also says something to candidates about how much you value the hiring process and by extension their skills. Remember: though it may cost a little extra upfront, finding the right candidates from the start will save you time, effort and money down the line. Hiring the wrong candidate can be expensive and rack up extra costs on onboarding, training and replacement.

work with an HR partner to ensure your job postings work for you

An HR partner brings experience to the table. They know all about writing job descriptions, posting them in the best places for the situation, and managing the recruiting processes. Even if you're not prepared to outsource all of your hiring, a partner can provide guidance or support. Find out more about working with a staffing partner in our guide on the benefits of a hybrid recruiting model.