How to Attract Top Talent Part 2: How to Write a Job Posting That is More Than Just a Job Description

In the first article of the series, How to Attract Top Talent, we discovered that we truly are in the midst of a candidate-driven market. A trend predicted to continue in the foreseeable future. Therefore, recruiting, staffing and HR professionals will need to re-evaluate the tactics and strategies they employ in order to attract top talent to their opportunities. In this article, we will explore the evolution of the job description and include some tips on how to write a job posting to drive applicants.

The basic job description has evolved into just one part of the much larger picture of a company’s talent brand. Gone are the days of a few lines in the job section of a newspaper, a print newspaper at that! Here are the days of digital talent brands, multi-channel job posting and employee brand advocates. Though the job description is still highly important, recent research from the Hay Group, “found that 59% of HR departments believe they have wasted their time on unsuitable applicants. 68% said that weak job descriptions result in a poor candidate pool”.

The job description should clearly provide the responsibilities and requirements to discourage non-qualified applicants from applying, which in turn, will save recruiters’ time when reviewing applicants. The job posting also should include information that builds excitement and entices ideal candidates to apply. A company’s talent brand should reinforce what they are trying to get across to candidates in the job posting.

When it comes to recruitment agencies, recruiters don’t usually have access or control over the talent brand of the company they are recruiting for and the company is not revealed on the initial job post. This poses an extra challenge, they must write such a great job post that it sparks the candidate’s interest without them knowing the company they are applying to. The basic recruiting job posting usually includes:

  • Job title
  • Salary range/hourly rates
  • Job duties and responsibilities
  • Required qualifications

Little background about their client, the hiring company, is shared through the posting, this is where recruiters can make a change to have a bigger impact on applicants. The first thing a recruiter can do is ask the client a few questions to get a good idea of what the corporate culture is like. Some example questions are:

  • Can you describe your company as if it were a person?
  • What are you most proud of about your organization?
  • What are your company’s main goals and what values propel it towards these goals?
  • What determines success at your company?
  • When giving a new employee an office tour, what stops would you make?
  • What are the three main words that your employees would use to describe your company?

The answers to these questions will allow recruiters to write a robust job posting that provides potential candidates with an idea of the company’s culture, focus, mission, and views. One tip, is to avoid using any of the company’s exact phrasing because candidate’s could potentially run a web search and discover who the client is. So when keeping the client confidential, be careful to reword any answers that may be right from the company’s corporate website.

These same questions are beneficial for corporate HR departments, the answers should be addressed in the individual job posting but also throughout the overall talent brand, the digital careers page, any social media correspondence and throughout the interview process. One company that we felt really exemplified this in their job postings was Clio, check out this one for a Marketing Front End Developer.

We liked this posting a lot because we felt it was clear, easy to read, provided a rounded picture of life at Clio, and we felt that this post would work really well even with the company name left out, therefore it is a good example for recruiters and HR departments alike. It states the larger corporate goal of providing software that makes their users’ law practices run smoother and the goal of the role, “to get customers excited”. It then shows how the candidate will contribute to that goal; by building great landing pages, and lastly, provides details on the skills the candidate will need to reach these goals. Giving candidates an idea of how they will contribute to the big picture, shows them that they will be performing meaningful tasks and be valued as a team member, these are two qualities of work that are necessary to keep candidates happy in today’s market. It is often said, that only millennials crave meaningful work but in truth, it is a need that spans generations. Organizational psychologist Dr. Tasha Eurich stated that, “meaning is equally important for everyone, regardless of generation”. This added job description dimension will drive more qualified and motivated applicants.

The more specific you can be in the description, the better it is because you want qualified people to apply not just a large number of applicants. Thomas De Brun, Founder of Tower Executive Search wrote a great article where he investigated why a specific job posting was getting a large amount of applications. In the end, it was a very generic job description so they got a flood of sub-par applicants instead of attracting qualified talent. He suggested asking candidates to submit previous, comparable work in order to eliminate those who would apply without the proper experience or training. This is a great idea and if it works with the job vacancy you are hoping to fill, we would highly suggest it. Take our example from Clio, only those who have a “strong web portfolio” will apply because they have made it a requirement and if they still apply without one, they can be easily eliminated, reducing the time spent reviewing resumes that don’t meet the requirements. Another way to try to avoid non-qualified candidates from applying is to utilize a form of assessments. CURA integrates with IBM KeneXa Prove It, allowing users to send out and track assessments from within the CURA ATS system. Just be sure to state in the job posting that an assessment will be conducted so potential applicants are aware.

According to research from TheLadders, “the average time to decide on the suitability of a position was 49.7 seconds when the job was not a fit, and 76.7 seconds when it was”. This right here shows how important a strong job description is, without it your star candidates may be moving on without applying for a job they would be a great fit for. Always aim to be clear, specific and to build excitement. Remember you are not just posting a job, you are selling a career.

Want some extra help with writing your job description? Matt Charney Managing Editor for Recruiting Daily has launched a new feature called, Pimp My JD, simply submit yours and he may select it for his monthly rewrite.

We hope you find success with these actionable tips on how to write a job posting. Share any tips or experiences in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you. In our next article in this series, we will discuss strategies to get your job posting seen by the candidates you want to apply.

[Originally published on 8/11/2015 via mindSCOPE Recruiting and Staffing Software]

Views: 426

Comment by Katrina Kibben on August 13, 2015 at 1:52pm

Love the question: Can you describe your company as if it were a person?

I heard on one of our webinar earlier this week another great technique - and one we often forget: Just describe the job in our own words. How would you explain this job to a friend applying. We lean so heavily on templates and trying to fit our brand, we forget our brand is the people who work there in the first place. 

Comment by Mary Waley on August 13, 2015 at 3:11pm

Thanks Katrina! As a marketer it is one of the first questions I ask a new employer or client, it is such a versatile question and the answers really provide great insight and not just for marketing.

That sure is another great technique. We often over complicate things trying to fit a template, when really candidates just want an honest and authentic job description. Personally I find a more relaxed job description a lot more appealing than an overly wordy one. Just tell it to me straight.


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