How Publicity and Recruitment Advertising Influences Applicant Attraction

Constructing the perfect recruitment advertising campaign is pivotal to the success of any recruitment and selection campaign. Recruitment advertising needs to be targeted, direct and customized to attract the best applicants.

Traditionally, the purpose of recruiting has been to fill vacancies or attract and reserve outstanding talent for the future. However, recruitment researchers have recently begun to explore how organizational factors other than recruitment practices can affect recruitment outcomes during the first phase of recruitment.

Most recruiters, managers and human resources professionals focus the majority of their time on constructing recruitment campaigns without considering what other factors may influence the outcome of their recruitment campaign.

In a study released by Lee et al. (2011) in the African Journal of Business Management, research was conducted into what are the effects of publicity and recruitment advertising on applicant attraction. This study used a fictitious company and designed publicity and recruitment advertisements to understand which recruitment advertisement could improve applicants’ organizational attractiveness while it received varying publicity.

What are the effects of publicity and recruitment advertising on applicant attraction?

This study identified two factors that can influence and affect application attraction:

  1. Firstly, it was identified that positive publicity is associated with a more favourable attitude towards an organization and higher organizational attractiveness. This implies that publicity can be an influential external recruiting source; in particular, negative publicity seems to have a damaging impact on an organization.  Moreover, providing a detailed recruitment advertisement induces higher perceived advertising impacts on potential applicants than does general recruitment advertisements. Detailed recruitment advertisements are associated with a higher advertisement truthfulness, advertisement informativeness, appropriateness, attitude toward the advertisement, and perceived organizational attractiveness; that is, potential applicants who receive specific and detailed information on a company, job, and work context will generate a better perception than those who receive general recruiting information. 
  2. The study also reveals that compared to positive publicity, negative publicity interferes with the impact of recruitment advertisement to a greater extent. However, positive publicity did not significantly increase the effect of recruitment advertisement on organizational attractiveness. This result is similar to the findings of research examining the effect of word-of-mouth publicity on applicant attraction; that is, although negative word-of mouth publicity has an interaction effect with recruitment  advertisement, positive word-of-mouth publicity does not

Implications on recruitment and selection processes?

Lee et al. (2011) argue that organizations should try to create positive publicity and avoid negative publicity. They also infer that the findings of the study suggest that a company could use recruitment advertising when facing negative publicity at the time of hiring. The results also suggest that the inclusion of detailed information when practicing recruitment advertising (during a negative period) positively affects a potential applicant’s perception. This is especially true, as Lee et al. (2011) suggest, that for graduates or people who know nothing about the recruiting organisation.


This study provided an alternative view about what recruiters, managers and other recruitment professionals should consider when formulating recruitment campaigns and revealed what are the effects of publicity and recruitment advertising on applicant attraction. To read the full research paper, please refer to the cited source below.

Cited Source: Lee, H. Hwang, M. Wang, L. Chen, P. (2011). Hype matters applicant attraction: Study on type of publicity and recruitment advertising. African Journal of Business Management Vol.5 (7), pp. 2734-2741

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Comment by Andrew Puhanic on March 19, 2012 at 1:27am

This study goes a little further than the notion of accentuating the positive to attract viable candidates. This peer reviewed study takes that assumption and looks at it from a different angle. The researchers created a fictitious company and designed different publicity and recruitment advertisements to understand which recruitment advertisement could improve applicants’ organizational attractiveness while it received varying publicity. There is a-lot of analysis of the outcomes of the experiments within the paper that I could not add to the post. To gain full understanding of what this research paper identified, I highly recommend you read the entire journal article. The formal reference is located at the end of the post.

I agree with most of what you say, however when we speak of graduate recruitment, the study suggests that PR becomes more important then for more experienced job seekers.

Comment by Andrew Puhanic on March 19, 2012 at 1:34am

BTW, If anyone would like a copy of the entire journal article, please email me at


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