Improving Recruiting: How to Write Better Job Postings

Posted by Ashley Jones

Let’s be honest. We know our job postings probably aren’t what they should be, or could be if we took more time with them. When we hastily copy and paste, they’re typically dull, lifeless, and don’t meet their full potential. But why is this so often the case? They don’t have to be so lackluster and they certainly shouldn’t be if you want to attract great applicants—or any at all.

If we play devils advocate, maybe you haven’t upgraded your job posting game because it’s not necessary. You’re out in the community, people want to work for your company, and you get a ton of referrals. Even if that’s the case, no matter how a candidate hears about your job opening, they will always read your job description at some point. So give it the attention you hope your candidates will, and make it something they actually want to read.

Too many job postings in the cleared community are pulled straight from the government contract award. While you can’t change the requirements of the job, you do have some flexibility in how you choose to advertise it. Think of a job posting as an ad for both the job itself and your company. If you were the one reading it amongst hundreds of others, would you want to apply?

Find the perfect balance between providing enough information and keeping your descriptions concise with these tips to write better job postings.

Crafting Titles

Keep your candidates in mind when you write the title of your job description. This is your first opportunity to entice them to read more, so don’t shout at them with all CAPS. Consider the following insights as you write your titles:

  • Keep it brief. Many job seekers search for jobs on their mobile devices. While screens have gotten bigger in recent years, brevity remains king. So put the most important words at the beginning and keep them to 80 characters or less.
  • Be specific. Your title is not the place for generalities. You need to be precise and include the keywords that best describe the role. For example, a targeted title like Java Developer is more specific than Software Developer.
  • Skip the buzzwords. We’re trying to improve job postings and spice them up a bit, but that doesn’t mean your job title should be for a Linux Wizard. Candidates won’t be searching for wizards or gurus, so keep it straightforward to ensure better search relevance.
  • Ditch internal lingo. While you may classify experience levels by Roman numerals like II or IV at your company, stick to standard descriptions like Senior that are more likely to be searched for and immediately understood.
  • Include common abbreviations. If your job is well known in the industry by a particular abbreviation it’s helpful to include it in the title. But be sure to spell out full versions of those abbreviations too.

Remember, your title is the introduction to your job posting that invites job seekers to keep reading. So take the effort to make it a good first impression and be sure to proofread for errors like misspellings.

Organizing Your Job Posting

The words you choose to describe the position you’re posting should be carefully considered. But when it comes to layout, it’s pretty straightforward. Most job descriptions follow the same structure. Job seekers are accustomed to it and it’s compatible with the platforms your jobs will be posted to. Follow this tried and true formula:

  1. Information about your company—a.k.a. your boilerplate
  2. A summary of the job
  3. A list of responsibilities and duties
  4. The qualifications and skills the role requires

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. The best performing job posts are between 700 and 2,000 words. With a little finesse and care, you can present an attractive job posting within these limitations.

Introducing Your Company

So how do you sell the job? Your first paragraph needs to be attention grabbing. Pique their interest before they hit the back button and move on to the next job listed. Hook your reader by telling them what’s unique about your company. This might be their 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. And help them understand why they would enjoy working for you.

Our recent survey found that good working environments and support of work/life balance are the leading motivators that draw many job seekers to a company, second to compensation. Culture plays a big part in a candidate’s decision-making process. So be authentic and share a little bit about your culture upfront to draw them in.

Writing the Job Summary

Your summary is a crucial piece of the puzzle. It needs to be strong, enticing, and showcase why this job is a great opportunity. Consider writing in the second person to directly address the prospective candidate you’re writing to. We often focus on the needs of the employer, but this little bit of personalization will help readers visualize themselves in the role and assess how they will fit in. So use “you” and “your” when describing what the job entails. For example, you might say, “You are a team player…” or “Your attention to detail…” when writing your overview of the position.

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.

Outlining Responsibilities and Duties

This is your chance to define the core responsibilities of the job. Your list should be detailed enough that candidates can determine their level of qualification before applying. Outline what the day-to-day responsibilities will be to further shape their understanding of what can be expected.

Is there something unique to your company’s needs that might not be known otherwise? Be honest and don’t try to underplay what’s expected. Transparency is your friend not foe. If you set realistic expectations now, your retention rates will benefit.

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.

Your Finished Product

As you review the job posting you’ve created, be sure that there is a strong call to action. After crafting a great description that sold your reader on the job, don’t leave them wondering what steps they should take next. Make sure they know how to apply.

Take an extra moment to review formatting and overall structure too. Will readers have to endlessly scroll, sentence after sentence 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 detailed description, your postings will help you find more applicants and ultimately greater quality hires.


  • Ashley Jones

    Ashley Jones is ClearedJobs.Net's blog Editor and a cleared job search expert, dedicated to helping security-cleared job seekers and employers navigate job search and recruitment challenges. With in-depth experience assisting cleared job seekers and transitioning military personnel at in-person and virtual Cleared Job Fairs and military base hiring events, Ashley has a deep understanding of the unique needs of the cleared community. She is also the Editor of ClearedJobs.Net's job search podcast, Security Cleared Jobs: Who's Hiring & How.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 06, 2019 12:31 pm

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