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First back to basics. How does our brain work when making decisions? Our brain consists of two thinking systems, psychologist Daniel Kahneman discovered years ago.

Thinking system 1: the unconscious brain

With the first system of thinking, we quickly make decisions that require little energy. The choices we make with this thought system are mainly influenced by emotions, memories or experiences. You hardly have to think when you make choices with this system. We therefore call this system the ‘unconscious brain’.

Do you turn left or right on the route to work? Do you have peanut butter or sprinkles on bread? And which cake do you prefer, strawberry or chocolate? All choices that we make relatively easy with this thinking system.

Thinking system 2: the conscious brain

Thinking system 2 takes more energy. This thinking system is influenced by facts, logic and evidence. You can almost hear your brain cracking when someone asks you how much 17×46 is. Or if you have to make a choice about taking out a mortgage. Making decisions with this thinking system requires a lot of considerations, thinking and therefore energy.

If you consider that we have to process about 125,000 stimuli a day and make 30,000 decisions a day, it is not surprising that our brain prefers to fall back on thinking system 1.

We make 95% of our choices with our subconscious brain. And that is precisely what is interesting, especially when we look at recruitment. – said Nicol Tadema.

Lower the tension, increase the chance of applicants

As a recruiter or recruitment consultant, you are involved in matching candidates to vacancies on a daily basis. You have probably already unconsciously made the choice with your unconscious brain within a few seconds whether or not to invite a candidate. This also works for a candidate. The first impression of your vacancy determines whether or not to apply.

However, there is also another factor that influences the candidate’s decision whether or not to apply: tension. Realize that changing jobs for candidates is a big step. In addition to tension, change of work brings uncertainty and sometimes even screeching nerves. Nicol Tadema says about this:

Job change ranks 18th on the Holmes & Rahe stress scale. For the image: the death of a spouse is number 1. Changing work is therefore really very exciting for people. And you can do a lot of things in your vacancy texts to reduce this tension and increase the chance of conversion, the applicants who apply!

Time for action, then. Because, how do you consciously influence the unconscious brain of your ideal candidate to increase the number of applicants? The tips below will help you on your way. Not just for vacancies, by the way. You can use them in any text that has to convince or with which you want to encourage certain behaviour.

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Consciously influence the subconscious brain: 4 useful tips

As you have read above, tension is a major factor in the subconscious brain of your ideal candidate. It is therefore good to first remove this tension in your vacancy text. You do this by being very clear in your text. For example, about the procedure and the closing date. Make it as easy as possible for the candidate by properly managing expectations right away. Make sure your job description answers questions rather than raises them.

2. Note the 3 magic words: but, because and if

In addition to clarity in the text, your choice of words has a major influence on the subconscious brain of your candidate. Words like ‘but’, ‘because’ and ‘if’ have more effect on the experience of a text VP Media Email Lists than you might think beforehand…

Chief and VP of Media Email Lists


With the word ‘but’ the human brain has a direct negative association. You may be familiar with the First Dates program. Two unknown people are matched here and enjoy a three-course menu together. At the end of the date they can tell each other if they liked the date enough for a sequel. And then comes the ‘but’…

Very often you hear sentences like ‘I thought it was a really nice date and you looked great, BUT…’. And you can hear that ‘but’ coming from the beginning of the sentence. A lot of people do this. They start with something positive and then put a ‘but’ in it. So the brain is also conditioned in such a way that everything about the word ‘but’ is not true. Everything that comes after the ‘but’ also weighs heavier

Also in the hiring process, using a word like ‘but’ can make a big difference. You can use it smarter by reversing the two messages. Just look at the difference in the sentences below

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