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Posted October 14, 2019 by

Are your job postings attracting too many unqualified and not enough qualified applicants?

We’ve all seen those job postings: “<Position> is responsible for driving revenue growth, optimizing interactions with enterprise leads, liaising and maximizing cross-functional segmentation using sales enablement and marketing nurture tools in coordination with CRM and digital generation management platforms. Must conduct A/B testing and drive key business metrics while aligning with leadership for optimal distribution strategy results. Will serve as ninja Agile scrum master to remove impediments. Extensive knowledge of end-to-end omnichannel demand gen in B2B and B2C environments. Strong record of win-win outcomes, conflict resolution and problem-solving among multiple layers of an organization. Stellar CX, VoC, SQL, COE, ETL, BI skills. 10+ years’ experience in <exhaustive list of software platforms>, superstar analytical skills, able to leap tall buildings at a single bound, ability to bend time and add a 25th hour to each day strongly preferred. Attention to detail a must.”

Say what?

All right, so while we made this one up (and trust us—don’t try to decipher it or your brain will get caught in a loop), in our tech-jargon, corporate-buzzword world there are plenty of real, similarly indecipherable job postings out there.

Sure, there are some postings that require more information—most notably, for jobs that involve technology and other specialized positions. But no matter how detailed your job posting needs to be, you should still aim for clarity and readability.

Join us for Job Posting 101 as we pass along some tips for writing job ads that will draw applicants’ interest, not send them scurrying to the nearest dictionary.

Job Title

  • Optimize your job title and description with the keywords your candidates will be searching for. Make sure the job title reflects the job. If you’re hiring a Customer Service Representative, use that title and resist calling it something cutesy or hip. Boring? Maybe, but be realistic: how many jobseekers will be searching for a Customer Service Ninja, or a Valued Customer Pleaser—and how many will miss your posting because it didn’t fit their search terms?
  • Be sure to include words that indicate the career level and the scope of the job: Customer Service Manager, B2B Digital Marketing Specialist, Senior Graphic Designer, Social Media Coordinator, Java Developer.
  • Don’t use internal terms; if you’re hiring an Assistant Art Director, use that title instead of the “Visual Manager 1” your company uses.
  • Include the city and state for searchers who are looking at a specific geographic location. Mention that it’s a telecommuting position (but in that case, include the company’s headquarters location so searchers are aware of possible time differences).

Company Summary

  • Before you go into the job description, give your applicants a paragraph-long glimpse of your company, and why it’s special.
  • Don’t just use your company’s boilerplate description here; personalize the description to give the applicant a reason to want to work with you. As an example, suppose you’re a small manufacturer hiring a Marketing Writer. You could say:

“W&W Manufacturing is a Michigan-based manufacturer of Safety Widgets and What-Nots. For 20 years, we’ve worked with the automotive industry to get our state’s drivers safely to their destinations and back home again. Now we’re looking for someone who can help us tell our customers’ success stories as we expand to keep drivers safe nationwide.”

Job Qualifications/Responsibilities

  • Decide on your “must-have” and “nice-to-have” qualifications before you sit down to write the posting.
  • Start out with a short summary paragraph. Use active rather than passive voice: instead of, “This position is responsible for creating all Safety Widget and What-Not collateral,” say, “You’ll create persuasive, readable sales copy for our full-color product catalog, trade show displays and website.” Make it human and personal; use the second-person “you” instead of “the Marketing Writer will…”— Let the candidate know how they’ll be a vital member of the team. Here’s an example:

“As W&W Manufacturing’s Marketing Writer, you’ll engage customers and prospects with your informative, well-crafted blog articles, white papers, brochures, trade show collateral, case studies, video scripts and more. Not only will you lead us in spreading the word nationwide about W&W’s Safety Widgets and What-Nots, you’ll help millions of drivers safely return to their homes and families each night. As a bonus, you’ll develop expertise in the widgets/what-nots industry and hone your craft as a marketing writer.”

  • Keep your company’s culture in mind as you create the summary. What’s the best part of the job? Are you a close-knit group that collaborates on everything? A hip, tech-forward team that would make Apple jealous with your technology toolbox? Here’s the place to let the candidates know what they can expect.
  • The more information you provide the better, of course, but you can also give too much information—especially if you’re looking for a super-employee who can’t possibly exist in nature. Don’t scare off potentially good candidates—for instance, recent college grads who might qualify for the position—by making everything a “must-have.” Firm requirements that are clearly distinguished from “nice-to-have” requirements create less confusion and fewer unqualified applicants to sort through.
  • Unlike our brain-bending job posting at the beginning of this article, don’t pack all the information into a single massive paragraph. Remember that many jobseekers are reading on mobile devices, so make your requirements easily scannable with short sentences, bullets and white space.
  • Try not to use cliched phrases in your descriptions, because let’s face it: unless we’re shiny-new in the workforce, we all know that “fast-paced” can mean anything from “a busy office” to “utter chaos.” Or that “multi-task” can mean “doing the job of the three people who were just laid off.” You don’t want to scare people off—or make the job sound too perfect. So, on behalf of jobseekers everywhere, we beg you to use plain language and be as honest as possible. Don’t leave a trail of disillusioned former candidates or employees in your wake, which can damage your reputation among future jobseekers. (And for a needed laugh after that serious plea, check out this infographic of what these 50 job ad clichés really mean.)
  • Clearly note the length and type of experience you’re looking for, the job level (junior, mid-level, senior, manager), the preferred education level, as well as any particular skills (e.g. the ability to write clear and compelling copy), characteristics (e.g. the ability to work without supervision) or physical abilities (e.g. the ability to stand for an eight-hour shift) that applicants need for the job.
  • If your requirements are firm, that’s fine—just say so. A quick statement along the lines of, “Please read this posting carefully, as we will only consider those applicants who meet the listed qualifications,” can help reduce the number of unqualified applicants who apply anyway. 

Job Benefits

  • Similar to the job description, make your list of benefits easily scannable with short sentences, bullets, and white space.
  • Note the traditional information and benefits most candidates want and need—hours, pay or salary range, insurance, 401(k), paid parking, etc.
  • Don’t forget about the less traditional benefits that will make an applicant say, “Yes, I want to work there!” Do you have a relaxed dress code? Can you work from home some days? Do you provide lunch or healthy snacks for employees? Is there an onsite gym? A monthly book club? A monthly “bring your dog to work” day? Community volunteer opportunities? Talk about them all! We spend as much time at our workplace as we do with our families. Let prospective candidates see their days can be comfortable, enjoyable and even fun when they’re part of your team.

The final step in  you send your job posting off to your preferred job board, proofread your copy, have someone else proofread it and then proofread it one more time!

While this article is only a basic, high-level overview of writing a job posting, don’t worry—you’ll find resources galore online with a quick Google of “Best practices for writing a job posting” or a similar search. But if you don’t feel like Googling, here are the four most important things to keep in mind when you sit down to write your next job post:

  1. Write clearly and conversationally—ditch the jargon and clichés
  2. Use your human voice
  3. Be honest in the job description, requirements and benefits
  4. Let your company’s personality shine through  

A company that cares enough to be clear, human and straightforward with job candidates promises to be an employer that candidates will flock to. And if you follow these practices consistently, there’s every reason to believe that you’ll be the company people point to when they refer to “an employer of choice.”

Sources:

50 Nonsense Job Ad Clichés  (and What They Really Mean…),” by James Ball, coburgbanks.co.uk, undated.

How to Write a Job Description That Attracts Awesome Applicants,” by Eddie Shleyner, blog.hubspot.com, updated October 17, 2018.

5 Tips to Writing an Effective Job Posting,” by CivicPlus, civicplus.com, undated.

How to Write a Great Job Posting,” by Max Messmer, dummies.com, undated.

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