Leverage Persuasion, Emotion, and Trust to Get Candidates to Apply for Your Job Openings

Persuasion, Emotion, and Trust (PET) are the latest buzz words in usability circles.  According to Dr. Eric Schaffer, CEO of Human Factors International, “Whether a website is e-commerce, informational, or transactional, their mandate is to establish deeper relationships with customers.  Understanding how and why people make online decisions that lead to conversion, and the subtle motivators and emotional triggers that influence how they react to website messages and content, is vital to maximizing the success of a site.”

Dr. Schaffer goes on to say that traditional usability deals only with what users of your website can do, where PET attempts to influence what they will do.  It’s a subtle, but important difference.

Much of the study surrounding PET seems to be focused on e-commerce websites.  However, isn’t your career portal kind of like an e-commerce site?  You’re selling your company and your job openings to potential candidates.  You need to convince them that they really want to work for you and not the other guy, right?  So, how can you leverage PET to help guarantee potential candidates will apply?

Here are just a few simple ideas: 

1.     Profile employees who currently hold the same or similar jobs (use photos and personal quotes).  This makes it more personal.  Now the candidates can see a smiling photo of your happy employee engaged in meaningful and exciting work.

2.     Use the Amazon trick of suggesting similar items – “If you like this job, you may also be interested in these positions.”  This makes candidates feel like you know them, know their preferences.

3.     Consider the use of video to give candidates a “day in the life” view of what the job is all about.  If you’re good, they will be able to see themselves in the position.  Enlist the help of your marketing department, if you can.

4.     Blow the dust off of your creative writing skills and have a little fun with your Job Descriptions!  Below are two actual job descriptions I found on LinkedIn:

Example 1:  Web Designer

Ok, so you’re not the geeky, pudgy PC guy with glasses but you’re probably just as charming. We like geeks. Design geeks. Those insufferable designers who love to tinker under the hood or masterfully orchestrate a screen full of pixels. We like hard workers too. The ones who don’t chicken out on hard problems. And now that you’ve jump around with random startups for a few years, put up with bad management and amassed a pile of portfolio fodder that will never see the light of day, isn’t it time for a real job? The kind where you can actually work on things that really make a difference in the world. That is why you went into design in the first place, isn’t it? Remember all that altruistic design mumbo jumbo about changing the world? Well, get on it with it. Change the world, by changing the software that fuels the world – Windows. Yep, Microsoft. The Windows Design team (yes there is one, smarty pants) is already made up of a bunch of design geeks and we want more. Lot’s more. Interaction designers, visual designers, motion graphics folks and even those creative wonders that defy classification. You know, design geeks. The ones that think hanging out with the PC guy is probably more fun than that other dude.


Example 2:  Web Designer

Position will be involved in the creation and production of a wide variety of interactive projects (websites, email marketing, interactive sales tools, videos, and more). Candidate will act as the bridge between the creative and the technical teams to provide expertise on how to best produce highly usable interactive pieces. Must be able to design and build web presentations with a keen understanding of utility, functionality and solid web design and UI fundamentals. Must be able to implement front-end high quality web designs based on product requirements, specifications and wire-frames as well as have the ability to conceptualize projects, create rapid prototypes and communicate ideas to others effectively when necessary. Candidate will generate accurate and high quality code, be excellent at follow-through and bug resolution and able to meet deadlines.


Hmm, which position do you want to apply for?  The one that makes you sound like a techno-superhero, or the one that sounds like a stint at military school where you will do this and you will do that.  Personally, I’d go for the cape. 


One thought on “Leverage Persuasion, Emotion, and Trust to Get Candidates to Apply for Your Job Openings

  1. Great post, Melisa–particularly the zing of the job postings comparison. It’s encouraging when people don’t take themselvess too seriously, even when they do serious stuff like the people at Microsoft.
    Many of us are like this in real life already–full of personality and creativity (each in our own way)–so why not take our personalities to work with us to a place that clearly values personality? The two jobs compared above may be the exact same thing, but it’s how we perceive that job (“job goggles”?) that influences us emotionally. And once we get hired, it helps advance the cool corporate culture in that design group. (By the way, the Microsoft gig sounds like a great job: when does the posting close?!)

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