Recruit like a Marketer: A/B Test Your Job Descriptions

If you’ve read it in a blog post once, you’ve seen it re-tweeted, re-shared and re-posted 1000x.


Or to some degree, recruiters should adopt elements of marketing into their strategy for continued success.

But any marketer will tell you, all that glitters isn’t gold. While it’s easy to want to do the fun, shiny and WOW factor things, most facets of marketing take a lot of [worthwhile] planning, testing and time. And from a time suck to ROI ratio, A/B testing should be one of the first pieces of arsenal in your toolkit.

A Common Scenario

You’re a recruiter and a new job hits your desk. You schedule your intake call, gather the necessary info and are ready to press on. Only, you have a very involved and opinionated hiring manager who thinks they have drafted the Pulitzer for job descriptions. After you’ve won the battle over why you should not post the job on Friday afternoon, you’re exhausted and agree to give their job description a shot.

Enter A/B Testing

A/B testing is the act of running a simultaneous test between two or more variations of pieces of content/landing pages/etc. to see which converts the most leads. In our scenario:

  • Variation A “The Control” – Your hiring manager’s job description.
  • Variation 2 “The Treatment” – The job description you really want to run.

How It Works

You have a candidate pool of 500 folks sitting in your marketing database (aka your ATS), you want to send an email blast to promote an open role at your organization. You send two emails—both with the same content (for now)—with a call to action and link to apply.

  • The first 250 candidates in your pool are redirected to Variation A to apply.
  • The second 250 candidates are redirected to Variation B to apply.

If you don’t have a robust talent community, let the variations run their course on aggregators, paid sources, your other outreach methods, etc.

Measuring Success

After you’ve run your test cycle, log into your ATS and compare your pipelines. The variation with the greatest conversion rate (number of applicants) is your winner!

Boom. Instant marketer. And you didn’t have to sit through 4 levels of stats in college like this gal did to do it!

One of my favorite things about A/B testing is that it can be applied to almost any facet of your recruiting outreach strategy to determine the best route to move forward with a particular job or campaign.

  • InMails and pipelining scripts
  • Social media ads, posts, status updates
  • Banner advertisements
  • Video
  • Referral requests
  • The list can really go on…

However, it’s imperative to remember that candidate preferences evolve with market trends and therefore, you should leverage the A/B testing process on a recurring basis to gauge continued performance.

FOT Background Check

Holland Dombeck McCue
Holland Dombeck McCue is the former the Editor turned blogger here at Fistful of Talent. She joined the group in August of 2011 and launched FOT's podcast, The CYA Report, and monthly webinar series. Now she gets to participate in all the HR/talent pundit fun. Check her out on Twitter via @Holland_Dombeck.


  1. Valarie Williams says:

    Can you elaborate on “If you don’t have a robust talent community, let the variations run their course on aggregators, paid sources, your other outreach methods, etc.” i.e. do you post both versions at the same time on the same job board?

    • HD says:

      Hey Valarie – Sure thing! Yes – play around! Open two versions of the req. and promote it a couple of different ways. If you are interested in the testing the content of the JD, leave the title the same. If you are trying to determine which title is more fruitful, keep your content the same and experiment with different titles. Once you land on content that’s producing (JD/title combo) then you can move into A/B testing your email outreach, social updates etc. Or, if you have a killer JD and are limited based on reporting to only posting one version of the req., then I would test outreach first.

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