Thankfully, there are tricks to writing a job listing that gets you noticed. Here are ten tips that will make your job posting stand out.
A job listing is not a marketing opportunity
We get it. You don’t want to let a good marketing opportunity go to waste. If you have someone’s attention, why wouldn’t you try to generate interest in your company’s services or products?
However, this is a mistake. If you look at a job listing as a marketing opportunity, you’re going to water down its impact. As the term implies, a job seeker is looking for one thing: a job. They’re not in the market for your products or services, and they likely won’t be telling their friends about your company if they end up not applying for the job.
Good candidates are going to be savvy, critical thinkers. They recognize a sales pitch from ten miles away, and a sales-focused job listing comes off as desperate. Don’t sour up your job posting by trying to sell something.
Focus on the needs of a candidate
Obviously, your company has needs or you wouldn’t be hiring. That’s fine, but a job listing is not the place to talk about those. Instead, focus on the needs of a job seeker. What is it that a candidate needs from your company? Figure that out, then make it the focus of your job listing.
By putting the needs of your candidates over the needs of your company, you’ll greatly improve interest in your position.
Don’t be afraid to talk about salary and benefits
As a follow-up to the previous tip, let candidates know upfront a salary range and the benefits that you offer. Obviously, these factors are immensely important to potential hire. In fact, many candidates claim this is the most important part of a job listing.
Consider this: A candidate is looking for work in a specific field. They look at ten job postings for similar positions. Seven of those have salaries listed, and three don’t. Why would this candidate waste time applying for the three that don’t have salaries posted, when most of the alternative options have included this information?
Further, LinkedIn created a heatmap of a standard job listing to emphasize the most important sections. Which piece of the listing do you think had the most heat (or highest level of importance) associated with it? If you guessed the part about salary and benefits, you are correct.
The bottom line: make sure the salary and benefits are mentioned in a job posting. You may lose a few applicants over it, but those are people who would have almost certainly turned down the offer anyway.
Give details about the day-to-day tasks of the position
Another thing any potential candidate needs to know about is the nature of the tasks they’d be performing if they were hired. Give examples of day-to-day tasks, and avoid talking about things that might be irrelevant.
Far too often, candidates read a job posting that contains almost no real information. There is no reason for the candidate to apply for such positions, as they can’t even be sure from the listing that the job would be a good fit. If you give potential applicants a clear overview of what the job entails, you’ll attract the right kind of talent.
Be as accurate as possible
We simply can’t overstate the importance of accuracy in a job posting. Focus on the details that matter most and ignore details that have low relevancy to the position.
For example, if you’re hiring for a janitorial role, it’s unlikely a candidate will need to know how to create spreadsheets within Excel. It’s quite possible that a janitor will be occasionally working in Excel (to fill out task checklists, for example), but if you put “Knowledge of Excel” as one of the requirements of the position, you’re implying that the work is different from what it actually is. A more accurate phrase might be “filling out checklists of completed tasks.”
If your job listing is imprecise, you could end up wasting a lot of time interviewing people who aren’t qualified, or who believe they’re applying for a different type of position than the one you’re trying to fill.
Avoid buzzwords and “fun” job titles
The temptation is strong to use trendy buzzwords in job postings. You probably want a candidate who is good at “multitasking” or is “a team player.” However those phrases are virtually meaningless, since they’re not specific to any type of job. “Multitasking” applies to a factory position just as well as it does to a CEO. A “team player” might as easily be found on a baseball field as in a corporate boardroom. A project manager who’s a team player is probably “skilled at delegating work to the appropriate people,” while a receptionist who’s a team player is more likely to be good at “making guests feel welcome.” This is a follow-up to the previous tip, but avoiding buzzwords can make your job postings more specific, and therefore more accurate.
Additionally, silly job titles are no longer trendy. If you’re trying to hire a programmer, “Programming Jedi” sounds like a lot of fun, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, these sort of lighthearted job titles suggest that your company doesn’t take itself seriously. They might have been trendy for a brief moment, but that moment has passed. Make sure your job titles are more appropriate for professionals than for cartoon characters.
Use plain language
A common complaint about poorly written job postings is that they’re too vague. Sometimes, companies try to make their posting either too fluffy or too “legalese” sounding. In both of these cases, the details start to get muddy.
The easy way to avoid vagueness is to be clear, concise, and accurate. For instance, if one of the requirements of a job is to clean bathrooms, don’t say “to scrub and disinfect the surfaces (ex. walls, floors, tiles, etc.), appliances, and trash receptacles within the space designated for relieving oneself.” Just say, “Cleaning bathrooms.” The shorter version conveys exactly what you mean, while the longer one is difficult to read and a bit too convoluted to comprehend at a glance.
Don’t overstate required experience
There are some benefits to overstating the amount of experience that is required for a position. You’ll weed out candidates without experience, as well as ones who aren’t confident in their abilities. However, in a market where companies are struggling to fill vacancies, you really don’t want to discourage eligible candidates from applying.
Further, there might be a severe disconnect between the amount of required experience and the salary you’re offering. This will prevent the most qualified candidates from taking your offer seriously, while less-qualified candidates (who might be perfectly qualified to meet the demands of the role) won’t even submit a resume.
By overstating the amount of experience a position requires, you’re severely narrowing your candidate pool. This is sometimes a positive, but in roles that are hard to fill, it becomes a serious detriment.
Use bullet points
Applicants don’t read job listings; they skim them. Long paragraphs make content difficult to scan, while bullet points allow readers to quickly find the most important parts of the listing and to understand them without much effort. Give job seekers the opportunity to skim your content and determine whether or not the position is a good fit in less than a minute.
Have an editor look over the job listing before you post it
Far too often, job listings get posted that are riddled with typos. Keep in mind that every job posting is a reflection of your company. While this is not a marketing opportunity, as we mentioned in the first tip, the language of a job posting will give job seekers some insight into the company’s self-image. If your job postings are sloppy, it makes your company seem unprofessional. Strong candidates want to work for strong companies, so make sure your grammar and spelling are both perfect.
If you have an editorial staff, run your job postings through an editor before you post to a job board. If your company doesn’t have an editorial staff, there are several paid services that will have a professional editor look over your material.
Grammatically correct job postings are the bare minimum. Anything less will cast doubt on the competence of your company. Don’t discourage talented people from submitting resumes; have an editor look at your posting.