Take Your Job Listings From Good to Great
- Steve Williamson, VP Digital Marketing and Content Creation, eRep, Inc.
- Monday, May 22, 2023
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 DOs and DON'Ts to give your job listing the best possible chance of attracting top candidates.
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. Make it count! They are also heavily used by search engines, so using standardized and concise job titles is very important to get your listing in front of more eyeballs.
- Be concise.
- Use standard job title naming conventions.
- Don't get cute with your job titles or they likely won't show up in searches.
- Don't use adjectives or catch-phrases like "Rockstar."
- Don't use compound job titles like "Now hiring truck drivers, installers and loaders"
- Leave out "Now hiring" and similar phrases; it's unnecessary. Just state the title and leave out the verbs.
- Inside Sales
- Journeyman Electrician
- Registered Nurse
- Are You A Sales Rockstar?
- Now Hiring Experienced Electricians
- Medical Professionals Love Ace Health Services!
The job summary should be a single paragraph of moderate length at the top of the job listing right after the title. It 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.
- 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."
- List the realistic pay range. An increasing number of states have passed laws requiring this information in all job listings and many national job boards won't display a job listing without it.
- Avoid broad or vague terms, such as "this position will generate sales."
- Don't waste the candidate's time speaking about your company (save that for the last section; see below). Instead, describe the position itself.
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 and label them so the candidate can tell which is which. Candidates will quickly scan this section to see if they are likely to be successful in the role.
- List responsibilities in order of most to least important.
- Use present-tense verbs like "lead" or "assist."
- Leave out the kitchen sink. Don't list optional or rare duties that aren't required or are not heavily preferred for the role (if they are heavily preferred but not required, say so).
- Don't be overly broad, such as "the incumbent will perform general office duties as assigned."
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. You can list preferred skills, but list the requirements first. Use a bullet list for easy scanning.
- 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.
- Don't include an extensive list of "nice to have" skills that only vaguely or rarely 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. Instead, state, "Experience writing iPhone apps."
- Be realistic. Don't list five years of experience on a technology that has barely been around for six.
About Your Organization
If the candidate asks, "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 as part of their employment decision, so use this section to honestly answer the question, "Why would I want to work for your company?"
Bonus top tip: Smart candidates will ask a particular question that you should be prepared to answer during the interview phase. It's even better if you can at least hint at the answer in the job listing:
Be ready to answer the question: "What are the reasons why I would want to work for you instead of for your competition?"
- 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.
- Don't use hollow or misleading buzzwords; avoid cliches like "fast-paced" if you don't explain what that actually means (most candidates see "fast-paced" in a job listing and think "unreasonable workload and deadlines" instead).
- Don't describe the work environment in one location or department if it differs from where the candidate will actually be working.
- Don't say it's a hybrid or work-from-home position if you don't intend to actually allow that.
Some Frank Notes of Caution
"We all know how cautious Frank can be."
Be honest but 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 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 your time and money 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.'
Finally, hiring is a mutual, two-way relationship. Treat your candidates (and your employees) with respect, integrity, and honesty, especially if you expect them to treat you the same way. Word gets around and most people can tell when they're being sold a bill of goods during an interview. If you are advertising to fill an existing position, be expected to provide an honest answer when the candidate asks why the position is vacant (using discretion as necessary, of course).
Go to eRep.com/core-values-index/ to learn more about the CVI or to take the Core Values Index assessment.
Innovator/Banker - VP Digital Marketing and Content Creation, eRep, Inc.
Steve has a career in project management, software development and technical team leadership spanning three decades. He is the author of a series of fantasy novels called The Taesian Chronicles (ruckerworks.com), and when he isn't writing, he enjoys cycling, old-school table-top role-playing games, and buzzing around the virtual skies in his home-built flight simulator.
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