How Valuable are On-Line Ads for Executive Level Roles?


We often hear from executives querying if it is even worth it to apply to on-line ads, and thought we would provide some insights into just how valuable these ads can be for a job search, what the parameters are to applying, and how to increase your chances of gaining an interview.

How Valuable are On-Line Ads?

As a recruiter, we employ many methodologies when searching for candidates to fill executive level roles.  We conduct extensive research upon gaining a search, including strategically profiling and identifying qualified candidates, casting nets by posting ads on various sites, and reaching out to passive candidates via e-mail as well as  Linked In, and also on other social media sites.

  • While on-line ads are not our only tool in our recruiting arsenal, they are certainly one of the many  things we do in order to attract the attention of executives that possess the background and skills that our clients are requesting. 

When crafting an ad regarding a particular search we are conducting, we are outlining the job opportunity, and listing the mandatory requirements that a qualified candidate will possess.  We get this information from the hiring manager, so by reading these ads, a job seeker can gain invaluable information regarding what skills and traits the hiring manager is looking for. This is essential information when crafting your application, since you want to be emphasizing  how your background matches what the hiring manager is ultimately looking for. Obviously this is also critically important information  that can help you prepare for the interview itself.

For ads that list the company name, you can also do research on, which is a terrific website which allows employees to anonymously share their experiences into a company’s culture, work environment, management style, etc. You can also do some investigating on your own on Linked In to decipher who the likely hiring manager is, and make a point to engage with them via their posts. By offering insightful commentary on their various posts, you can get on their radar screen prior to an actual interview.

If you do not have the identity of the company prior to applying, you should still make a point to emphasize how your skills and experience match up to what they are looking for.

Should you Modify your Resume based on the Job Description?

These days the average recruiter gets over 100 responses per day, per ad. The majority of us utilize software, that provides a keyword match percentage  for every respondent.  By increasing the number of key words on your resume that match key words  on the ad, you can dramatically increase your key word match. If the ad lists a mandatory qualification for a specific certificate, degree or area of expertise, you want to be certain that your resume reflects that. Paying attention to key word matches is critical to success in applying to on-line ads.

Also make sure to customize your Objective based on the job you are applying to. When we receive an application from someone that says in their stated Objective that they desire to join a stable, well-established company and they are applying to a start-up, it does not bode well. Either they did not do their research on the company, or even worse, what they are looking for does not match the job we are looking to fill.

  • Take the time to tweak your Objective for every ad you respond to.   

What is the Protocol to Applying if you Do Not Meet all of the Listed Requirements?

There is typically going to be a list of mandatory requirements, and a ‘Dream List’ of preferred but not mandatory requirements. Depending on how current the search is,   the hiring manager may be open to considering candidates outside of his initial list. If a search is brand new, chances are the company is going to want to keep the parameters of the search pretty tight, until they see what is available. If after a month they have not seen their ideal candidate, they are much more likely to consider candidates with less than they initially required in terms of experience.

  • A good rule of thumb is if you have within 20% the mandatory requirements, go ahead and apply.

If you have everything that is listed on mandatory qualifications except the 10 years of industry specific experience required  yet have a solid 8 years under your belt, it absolutely makes sense to throw your hat in the ring. However, if you are lacking any industry specific experience whatsoever,  or an essential component for being able to effectively work in the role such as a degree or certificate, than you are not qualified for the role. With that said, it never hurts to send in your resume, with a note acknowledging the deficient, emphasizing your areas of strength, and inquiring if there may be other opportunities within the organization that you may be a match for.

  • By acknowledging the fact that you do not meet the listed criteria, that puts you well ahead of all the other applicants that apply but fail to acknowledge what the ad is asking for.   

When searching for new opportunities, it makes sense to employ all possible methods to being alerted to new positions within your area of expertise. Set up alerts on Indeed as well as Google Alerts, Follow companies on Linked In, as well as individuals that are in positions of leadership within your targeted companies. On-Line ads can indeed  be terrific sources of information, and should be reviewed on a consistent basis.

International Search Consultants has been a leader in executive level recruiting since 1999. Please feel free to reach out to us today for all hiring needs, and for job seekers, please consider submitting your resume to our confidential database, in order to be alerted to potential matches.

Ann Zaslow-Rethaber is President of ISC  and can be reached via e-mail at or direct dial at 888-866-7276.