What I Learned Writing 60 Job Postings In 60 Days

Posted by Katrina Kibben

Writing Job PostingsWhile hiring departments come in all shapes and sizes, there’s one thing we can all agree on: hiring is hard.

Why? Well, hiring is a combination of a thousand different variables we don’t control. Think about it. We don’t control if the candidate’s wife/husband doesn’t want to move. We don’t control how they feel about the hiring manager. We can’t make the timing work out. There are a thousand different variables, and this equation remains one of the hardest to solve.

One of the variables we can control, however, is how we ask. We can make candidates perk up and pay attention if we describe the work accurately and effectively. We can make them want the job before they ever step in the door. The way to do that? Things like our career website, email outreach and (of course) job postings.

Job postings create the first impression.

For security-cleared jobs and pretty much every other industry, there’s a significant education gap when it comes to job postings. Most people who own the process today were not taught how to write. The most experienced have merely looked at job postings. Rarely are they trained to do anything different, or evolve with the trends and times. Instead, we’re told to copy and paste the old one, find examples online or to “throw something together.”

That’s not a strategic plan for success.

However, we have to win. Our talent isn’t going to wait for us to get our content together.

It all boils down to this: If we can’t even explain the job clearly to someone, how can we make a successful hire? If you don’t have all of the information, you can’t attract the right person. If you do, it’s just luck. Considering everything that’s on the line and the immense impact the post could have, that bothered me.

So I decided to do something about it.

I started writing free job postings.

This is how it worked. People went to the Three Ears Media website and submitted one job. Then, they scheduled a 30-minute call with me to discuss the status of their overall job postings and the role I would rewrite. So for the next 60 days or so, I took meetings and wrote job postings. I worked with people hiring anywhere from 10 to 1000 roles. We talked about jobs from truck driver to a podiatrist and everything in between.

Most of the job postings I encountered were “new” about ten years ago. They were like job post fossils from the ’90s. Same dead tone. Same self-serving company paragraph. Most were just too long to ever keep the attention of, or more importantly to persuade, any candidate.

However, attention wasn’t the biggest concern I heard. Most people submitted their job posting because of a “feeling” – a feeling that their job postings simply weren’t good enough. They know there’s something about their job postings that just isn’t getting the job done.

6 Things I Learned Writing 60 Job Postings In 60 Days

  1.  Most practitioners don’t think their job postings are that bad. They get the job done. People have applied. People hired. However, across the board, they know the posts could get better. The problem? They have no idea where to start.
  2.  Writing is intimidating for practitioners. One of the hardest parts about recruiting (besides the hiring part) is being expected to be good at everything. That’s not realistic. Across the board, copywriting is the one place where the fewest number of people felt confident. [This is what inspires us to write training that teaches writing for recruiters.]
  3.  The most common issue? The job posting was too long. Over and over again, I heard practitioners say, “I just don’t know what’s important.” My answer: Whatever is essential to the candidate – especially in the world of cybersecurity and clearance jobs where the roles are so competitive. More is not more. Target around 200 words to mirror the length of typical social media messages and even more importantly, attention span.
  4.  Most had no clue how job titles and SEO could work in their favor. Something as simple as the job title can make or break your job posting. For example, the office assistant and administrative assistant job titles aren’t interchangeable. You will lose over 20,000 searches a month just by swapping those titles.
  5.  Bullets are the go-to. In the 100 jobs I looked at, not one was without an excessive number of bullets. One HR leader even said, “clearly I have a bullet fetish.” For years, people insisted they had to have bullets, and I’m not on board. Why? If there are no specific requirements someone must meet, bullets detract people – not attract them.
  6.  The most important thing you can do in any job posting is translating the skills required for everyday activities. Instead of talking about Java, talk about what they use Java to build and label the bulleted area, “After one year, you’ll know you were successful if…” or “A typical day as a [job title here] includes…”

Interested in getting some advice on your cleared job posting? Contact me to schedule a free consultation. We’ll review your job post and offer specific, actionable advice you can use to upgrade your content.

katrina kibbenKatrina Kibben is the founder and CEO of Three Ears Media, a company dedicated to teaching hiring teams how to become better writers. 


This entry was posted on Monday, March 18, 2019 3:12 pm

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