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You Know You Should Improve Your Job Postings

Posted by Ashley Preuss
writing job postings

As a recruiter, your job postings are just as important as a candidate’s resume—it’s all about forming that initial impression. Job seekers can often do better and so can you. Too many job postings in the cleared community are simply copied and pasted or 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?

So give it the attention you hope your candidates will, and make it something they actually want to read. 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. 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.
  • Avoid requisition numbers and special characters. Symbols and characters such as *&!:;() reduce click rates. Click rates are also higher when you avoid abbreviations. Think about what is most crisp and immediately legible.

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

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.

Writing the Job Summary

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. 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.

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.

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.

Bonus Tips

We covered the basics of what goes into a successful job posting. Take it one step further with these additional insights:

INCLUDE KEYWORDS

Consider including a keywords category at the bottom of your job posting. There are a lot of different terms that describe the same background. Getting those in your posting can help to capture additional relevant candidates. For example, when looking for a Software Developer, you might also search for a Software Engineer or Architect. Job seekers also search by keywords, so be sure to add other words and phrases that are not in your position description that people are likely to search for.

LOOK OUT FOR GENDERED WORDING

Unconscious bias may be evident in the language used in your job postings. In fact, male-oriented words are frequently found in job postings, especially in male-dominated industries. The use of gendered language 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, to attract candidates more effectively.

CATER TO VETERANS

If you’re looking to improve your military hiring efforts, consider how veterans will perceive your job postings. Veterans are by training 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.

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.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 15, 2020 1:53 pm

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