How to Compete for Job Candidates Share:

Steve Williamson, Dir. Product Development, eRep, Inc.
Monday, June 7, 2021
How to Compete for Job Candidates

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Tags: #hiring #joblistings #recruiting

The current job marketing is tough right now — candidates are being very choosy and applications can be scarce — so you need every advantage you can get to make your job listing as effective as possible.

Here are some things you should do and things you should avoid to give your job listing the best possible chance of competing for top candidates.

Job Title

The job title is the first impression your listing makes to potential candidates, and it will determine if they click to read more or pass on by. Be honest, be concise, and don't get cute with it. Job titles are heavily used by search engines, so using standardized and concise job titles is very important to get your listing in front of more eyeballs.

What to do:

  • Be concise.
  • Use standard job title naming conventions.

What not to do:

  • Don't get cute with your job titles or they likely won't show up in searches.
  • Don't use adjectives or catchphrases like "Rockstar."
  • Don't use compound job titles like "Now hiring truck drivers and installers."
  • Leave out "Now hiring" and similar phrases; it's unnecessary. Just state the title and leave out the verbs.

Good examples:

  1. Inside Sales
  2. Journeyman Electrician
  3. Registered Nurse

Bad examples:

  1. Are You A Sales Rockstar?
  2. Now Hiring Experienced Electricians
  3. Medical Professionals Love Ace Health Services!

Description / Summary

The job summary should be a single paragraph of moderate length at the top of the job listing, appearing right after the title. Do not go into detail about your company; that comes later. The job summary is the blurb that briefly describes what the job is and what it entails. You can use descriptive words to make it more interesting and exciting, but don't get carried away.

What to do:

  • Be brief. It's a summary, not a novel.
  • Speak to the candidate using "you" instead of generic variations of "the incumbent" or "the right candidate."

What not to do:

  • Avoid broad terms, such as "this position will generate sales."
  • Don't waste the candidate's time speaking at length about your company (save that for the last section; see below). Instead, describe the position itself.
  • Avoid hyperbole and catchphrases.

Job Responsibilities

Use this section to list the top five or six job responsibilities in a bullet list format. Indicate what is required first and what is preferred in a second list. Candidates will quickly scan this section to see if they are likely to be successful in the role.

What to do:

  • List responsibilities in order of most to least important.
  • Use present-tense verbs like "manage" or "assist."

What not to do:

  • Leave out the kitchen sink. Don't include optional or rare duties that aren't required or heavily preferred for the role.
  • Don't be overly broad, such as "the incumbent will perform general office duties as assigned."
  • Avoid hyperbole and catchphrases.

Qualifications and Skill Requirements

This section lists the specific set of skills or formal qualifications that are required for the role. This is where the candidate quickly determines if they are qualified or not. You can list preferred skills, but list the requirements first. Use a bullet list for easy scanning.

What to do:

  • List requirements first. Clearly state that if the candidate doesn't meet these qualifications or have these skills, they won't be considered.
  • Use common naming conventions for skills or educational qualifications.

What not to do:

  • Don't include an extensive list of "nice to have" skills that only vaguely apply to the role.
  • Don't list technologies or skills that are similar but not directly required. For example, don't list "Android experience" if they will be writing iPhone apps exclusively.
  • Be realistic. Don't list 5 years of experience on a technology that has only been around for six years.
  • Avoid hyperbole and catchphrases.

About Your Organization

When the candidate says, "Tell me about your company. What is it like to work there?" this will be your answer. This section describes your organization, what you do, and where the candidate is likely to work. Many job candidates rely on company culture in their employment planning, so use this section to honestly answer the question, "Why would I want to work for your company?"

What to do:

  • Honestly highlight your mission, vision and values.
  • Describe (honestly) what it's like to work there. Most job candidates can smell B.S. from a mile away.

What not to do:

  • Don't use hollow or misleading buzzwords; avoid cliches like "fast-paced" if you don't explain what that actually means.
  • Avoid hyperbole and catchphrases.
  • Don't describe the work environment in one location or department if it differs from where the candidate will actually be working.

Did you notice we listed 'avoid hyperbole and catchphrases' multiple times? Leave that to carnival barkers and YouTube stars.

Some Frank Notes of Caution

Be honest.

Be honest but also be careful about the way you describe the culture within your organization. It can be easy to convey an atmosphere that is off-putting or bias-ladened, even unintentionally. There are online guides that can analyze a job description and tell you if it contains hidden biases.

Don't turn your hiring process into a WOMBAT.

Don't try to trick candidates into applying by misleading them about the role or what it's like to work at your company. It will just be a waste of money, brains and time for you and the candidate when they ghost you after reading about your reputation on Glassdoor, or quit after working there a month and realizing what you actually meant by 'fast-paced.'

Go to to learn more about the CVI or to take the Core Values Index assessment.

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Steve Williamson

Steve Williamson

Innovator/Banker - Dir. Product Development, eRep, Inc.

Steve has a career in information technology, software development, and project management spanning three decades. He is the author of a series of fantasy novels called The Taesian Chronicles (, and when he isn't writing he is an aspiring multi-instrumentalist and composer, a virtual pilot in a home-built flight simulator, and a cyclist.

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