HR Job Seeker Survey Executive Summary

We surveyed 1200 qualified HR "job seekers" to find out how they consume traditional job board advertisements and how they respond to different job ads depending on the contact information and application methods offered in the advertisement.

Our findings clearly show why responses to certain styles of job advert are likely to be poor, and how difficult it can be to reach passive job seekers who make up a significant percentage of the market.

We finish by offering some suggestions to improve your job adverts and increase your chances of attracting passive job seekers.

The survey focussed specifically on HR job seekers, but it is reasonable to assume the results would be similar across most white collar professions.

To keep this report brief we have excluded results which we believe are to be expected. For example it would be no surprise that people who are unemployed and actively seeking a new job are relatively easier to reach than people who are employed. Therefore the highlights only include survey findings relating to job seekers who are currently employed.


The Aims of the Survey

The main aims of the survey were to establish:

Who will benefit from this information

If you believe that good recruitment means shunning mediocrity and finding the very best person available in the market at any given time, then these results will help you optimise your recruitment advertising to reach and attract a larger proportion of the candidate market, particularly passive candidates who are currently employed.

Who responded to the survey?

Just over 1200 HR job seekers participated in the survey. A large proportion of respondents were in mid to senior level HR positions.

We used initial questions to filter out anyone who did not consider themselves to be a "job seeker" (active or passive).

People who were not interested in a new HR job were excluded from the survey.

The Results   

Behaviour of currently employed Job Seekers (active and passive):

When applying for jobs:  

How human contact options affect applications:

Where do people look for jobs?

One optional question in the survey asked job seekers to list the different ways in which they looked for new jobs. The answers ranged from a very narrow focus on one or two advertising channels, through to people who explored every avenue available.

What was very clear is that different people look for jobs in different ways and that no single advertising product can possibly reach the whole market.

Conclusions and suggestions ...

The pool of potential candidates for any job can be separated broadly into three different market segments or groups. These are:

  1. People who are currently unemployed and actively seeking a new job.

  2. Those who are employed but actively seeking a new job.

  3. Passive job seekers – people who are interested in a new job, but not actively looking.

Group 1

Unemployed and actively seeking a new job

The results of the survey clearly demonstrated that people in Group 1 are relatively easy to reach. They use a variety of channels to look for jobs, and they are the most frequent users of traditional job boards.

It is understandable that most people in Group 1 spend more time looking for work. However when it comes to other factors which influence the likelihood of them applying for jobs , a significant proportion (37%) said they would be less likely to apply for a job where the only option was to apply via a web-based form.

Over one quarter (28%) said they always want to find out more about the job before applying, 23% said they would be less likely to apply if an advert did not name a contact person, and over 50% expressed a desire to apply by email.

Group 2

Employed but actively seeking a new job

Of those people currently employed in HR, 66% were in permanent positions and 34% in contract, temporary or limited tenure positions.

A little over one third of people in Group 2 are reasonably easy to reach through traditional job boards, using them on a daily basis. Whereas 43% said they visit traditional job boards roughly once per week and 20% use traditional job boards once per month or not at all.

Overall, a huge 54% said they view only 1-2 pages of search results per visit.

So reaching Group 2 with an advert on a traditional job board is very much hit or miss. It will depend on factors such as when the job ad is published, the location of the job, and how the job seekers search and apply filters to their search.

32% of Group 2 said they won’t apply for a job without knowing the salary, 36% always require more information before applying, 48% are less likely to apply if a web-based form is the only option, and 51% prefer to apply by email.

Group 3

Passive job seekers – employed and interested in new opportunities but not actively looking

People in Group 3 represent 54% of all respondents to the survey, and they are undoubtedly the hardest people to reach using traditional job boards, or indeed any other method of recruitment advertising, given that over 78% spend less than one hour per week looking for a new job.

Nevertheless, these people have all indicated that they are in the market if the right position is presented to them, so they are still very much potential candidates.

Not surprisingly this group is the least active in terms of using traditional job boards such as Seek and MyCareer, with 15% saying they never use them, 48% saying occasionally (once per month) and 27% roughly once per week.

When they do visit a traditional job board,62% view only 1-2 pages and further 31% view 3-4 pages. This, coupled with the low frequency of visits mean the chances of these people seeing your job ad on a traditional job board is very low indeed.

Similar to the previous group, these job seekers are reluctant to apply when they can’t get more information about a job or are forced to apply via a web form.

Don’t give job seekers a reason NOT to apply!

OVERALL, it was clear that the jobs seeker’s ability to contact the advertiser, access more information about the job, and how they can apply for the job, definitely influences the likelihood of them responding to an advert or applying for the advertised job.

The more difficult you make it for them, the less likely they are to apply. To some extent this was an issue for all job seekers, irrespective of their employment status.

How can you increase the effectiveness of your job advert?

This may appear to be stating the obvious, but a surprising number of advertisers don’t do these things.

Will the right people actually see your job ad?

As you know, when it comes to hiring skilled people, it’s not about how many people apply, it’s all about who applies. You want the right people!

When it comes to the challenge of actually getting your job ad in front of the right job seekers, the solution is not quite so easy.

Ironically, one of the biggest problems today is the choice of recruitment advertising channels or products. In many spheres of business, choice of provider is what everyone wants, but when it comes to recruitment advertising it’s a double edged sword, because the audience also has choice, and they definitely don’t all look in the same place for their jobs!

This was very clear from a question in the survey where we asked people to name the different ways they looked for jobs. Due to this being a free text field we are unable to easily produce any statistics, but we can say that HR people use a wide variety of advertising channels and other means to find jobs.

No single advertising product will reach the whole market, no matter what their marketing blurb says!

It’s another irony, that as a recruitment advertising product becomes more successful, there comes a point where it becomes less effective for the organisation that is trying to attract candidates. This is because a large percentage of job seekers view jobs in a certain channel or product weekly or monthly and then they only look at the first couple of pages of jobs. So if you advertise a job on a Monday, by Wednesday or Thursday your ad could be on page 7 or 8 of the search results.

To maximise your chances of reaching the very best people in the market at any time, we recommend using a mix of different recruitment advertising products. This should include at least one of the big traditional job boards, plus one or two niche job boards and a social media or business networking product.

When it comes to advertising HR jobs we’re a little biased, but we have to recommend Jobs in HR as an important part of your advertising strategy, because it delivers your job ad to the desktops of thousands of HR jobs seekers and reaches a large number of employed and passive job seekers, whom you won’t reach through traditional job boards.

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