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How to Capture Candidates’ Attention With Better Job Postings

Posted by Ashley Jones
job postings

Do your job postings cut through the clutter and stop candidates in their digital tracks? It’s a candidate’s market and they’re skimming through more job postings than ever. Just as you might only dedicate 7-10 seconds to quickly look over a resume, prospective candidates aren’t wasting time before closing the tab on your job posting and moving on to the next either.

Recycled job ads that are simply copied and pasted from the government contract award won’t cut it these days. While you can’t change the requirements of the job, you do have some flexibility in how you choose to advertise it. Consider these tips to make your descriptions stand out and help convert those initial clicks on your job postings to interested applicants.

First Impressions Are Everything

From the job title to the information you highlight in your first paragraph, impressions form quickly. The title is the first thing a job seeker will see (and maybe the last if you get too carried away). Keep your titles brief and skip the buzzwords. Prospective candidates won’t be searching for ninjas and gurus, so avoid titles like Linux Wizard if you want your job to be found.

It’s also wise to ditch internal lingo when classifying experience levels. Opt for standard descriptions like Junior and Senior vs Roman numerals. And finally, avoid requisition numbers and special characters in your titles too.

Once your title is in order, it’s time to prioritize the information in your job posting. The beginning is the most crucial part. What can you do to help ensure job seekers keep reading beyond 10 or so seconds? Make it about them. This means moving the usual company boiler plate below the fold and starting instead with what’s in it for them. Consider this structure:

  1. Introduction / job summary highlighting what’s in it for the job seeker
  2. Key selling points like the pay range, benefits or perks to get them hooked
  3. Responsibilities and duties listed as bullet points
  4. Qualifications and skills to help candidates self-select
  5. Company information – a.k.a. your boilerplate
  6. Closing that sets expectations for next steps

The key is to address these areas with enough details that readers can understand both your company and the role, all while keeping it concise. Keep in mind, the best performing job postings are between 300-700 words.

BONUS TIP: While you don’t want to get too creative with your titles, you can add some flare with your subheadings. Instead of a standard subheading like “About us,” you might say, “What’s cool about our company.”

Master Your Intro / Job Summary

So how do you sell the job? Your first paragraph needs to be attention grabbing. Pique readers’ interest before they hit the back button and move on to the next job. Your job summary should be enticing and showcase why this job is a great opportunity.

Write in the second person to directly address the prospective candidate. We often focus on the needs of the employer, but this little bit of personalization helps readers visualize themselves in the role and assess how they will fit in. So use “you” and “your” when describing what the job entails.

The summary should also include what your expectations are for the position and what success looks like. What’s the big picture? Share how the role fits into your organization overall and who the job reports to. And don’t forget to include the exact job location, whether it’s onsite, remote, or hybrid.

Highlight the Key Selling Points

The goal is to keep people reading, so put key selling points like the salary range and benefits near the top of the job description. What else can you share with prospective candidates to sell your job? Different benefits will stand out to different job seekers so mention a variety of perks. These might include: a 9/80 schedule, flexible/remote work options, health care benefits, continuing education, student loan paydowns, free lunches, day-care services, etc.

Outlining Responsibilities and Duties

Use 5-10 bullet points to define the core responsibilities and duties of the job in order of importance. Outline what the day-to-day responsibilities will be to further shape their understanding of what can be expected. Be transparent and don’t try to underplay what’s expected. If you set realistic expectations now, your retention rates will benefit.

Also be sure to use full sentences in the present tense, and look out for gendered wording to avoid unconscious bias. Male-oriented words can undermine your attempt to attract diverse talent, and ultimately affect the way your company brand is perceived.

When masculine wording is used, potential applicants assume that the company skews male. This perception makes the posting less attractive to women, sometimes causing them to pass on applying for the position. Removing words that are gender biased can typically increase the number of applicants by over 40 percent. Examine the language used in your job posting and take steps to improve how it will be received.

Listing Qualifications and Skills

You might need to exercise some restraint when listing qualifications. Naturally, you’ll touch on education, experience, technical skills, security clearance, and any certification requirements, but limit your “must haves” to those that are truly musts. You can list skills that are nice to have but make it clear that they’re not required. Otherwise you risk limiting your pool of applicants.

This is crucial because, while men will apply for positions where they meet slightly over 50% of the requirements, women tend to apply only for jobs where they meet 100% of the preferred experience. So focus on the “must haves” and eliminate the “nice-to-haves.” Consider softening your job requirements with terms like “familiar with” or “big plus” or even “combination of these skills” to appeal to candidates from different backgrounds.

Introducing Your Company

This might be a job seeker’s first glimpse into your employer brand. So showcase your company culture and give candidates the insight they need to gauge if your organization would be a good fit for them.

Share something attention grabbing. Tell them what’s unique about your company and help them understand why they would enjoy working for you. Culture plays a big part in a candidate’s decision-making process, so be authentic and share a little bit about your culture to draw them in.

Close Candidates With Your Closing

Most places that your job posting can be found will include a call-to-action button to apply, but don’t neglect taking the opportunity to close the candidate one last time and motivate them towards taking the next step. This is also an opportunity to display your transparency by outlining your application and interview process.

Consider spelling out the hiring process in no uncertain terms by listing the number of interviews that can be expected and who they’ll be with at each stage. What timeline can be expected? These extra details might make the difference between a job seeker throwing their hat in the ring or not.

Bonus Tip: Catering to Veterans

If you’re looking to improve your military hiring efforts, consider how veterans will perceive your job postings. Veterans are very mission-driven and passionate about filling a purpose. That’s why you need to focus on selling the vision of your organization—the why. Think about how the role plays a key part in serving the mission and meeting company goals. When you effectively communicate the big picture of your mission, more veterans will be attracted to your organization. So read through your posting to ensure your mission is evident.

You might also consider converting your job posting into a description that someone from the military may understand better. Start by taking your most frequently recruited jobs and put them through a military skills resume translator to better understand what your desired skillset looks like from a military perspective.

As you take the time to write better job postings, don’t forget to review your overall formatting and structure. Will readers have to endlessly scroll before coming across any paragraph breaks or white space? Your job posting should be easily digestible whether it’s viewed on a mobile device or desktop computer in order to perform well. With a clear title and engaging description, your postings will help you find more applicants and greater quality hires.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 11, 2022 5:28 pm

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