Why 'Apply Now' isn't always the best call to action

Why 'Apply Now' isn't always the best call to action

‘Can you not just add a page to the website and send a tweet?’

Something once said by a senior stakeholder of mine at the end of sharing my launch strategy for a new apprenticeship programme with them - in a new sector, where brand awareness was low and the competition established for a number of decades. A scenario which, for many of you reading this who work in student recruitment marketing or employer branding, is probably familiar? A decision has been made without really considering the market from which the talent is expected to be sourced, now passed to you and your team, to recruit for…here we go again trying to pull more young people out of ‘infinite browsing mode’ in an attempt to grab their attention and secure an application for a job in a company many of them will never have heard of, working in a sector most will probably not find attractive, on a pathway that will take them in a direction that the majority of their peers haven’t taken in favour of the default option of studying at university.

A tweet will not suffice. A tweet is essentially the equivalent of what Donald Miller discusses in his book ‘Building a Story Brand’, as asking someone to marry you before you’ve even taken them out on the first date, and whilst we might be living in a world where reality TV shows like Love Island are encouraging us to view the emotional rollercoaster that is love as something which we can fast forward with the right incentive, building relationships takes time, especially when it comes to the early careers market. It’s fine to let candidates know that you want them one day, but in my experience trying to grab them today is more than likely going to have a limited return on your investment. Which is why I agree with Miller when he stresses the importance of developing direct and transitional calls to action, the latter focusing on showing your intention ‘to marry them’, staking a claim, marking your territory - however you’d like to label it. Using the opportunity once you’ve held their attention long enough to ‘stall the scroll’ to start to building a relationship, positioning yourself as a trusted advisor.

A Trusted Advisor, however, again isn’t something which ‘appears’ overnight. This is something that I’ve always appreciated, even more so since starting my own business, and especially since reading the book of the same title by David Maister, Charles Green and Robert Galford. The brand journey from awareness through consideration, preference towards application is a long one, and so is the journey towards building trust as you move from sharing the services (careers in this case) on offer, identifying the candidate’s needs (based on sound market knowledge), building a relationship and developing trust whereby your solution becomes front of mind to their problem (figuring out which career pathway to follow).

When you work hard to connect the dots for candidates and clearly define what’s at stake, the interest that you worked so hard to get in the first place should dramatically increase the chances of finding the right candidate for the job hiding behind that ‘Apply Now’ button.

Photo by Olesya Grichina on Unsplash


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Everybody has a story to tell, and sharing yours could just be what’s need to empower a young person to discover what a career with you could bring to their life.

I work with student employers to create purposeful brand campaigns and experiences that help young people both understand, and get excited about, the world of work using the power found in storytelling.

Get in touch today and let’s discuss how we can tell your brand story.

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