Job Posting Optimization and Best Practices

The first thing potential job seekers see is the job title. It is the job titles that come up when searches are done on company job boards and more importantly on career sites (like Monster, Careerbuilder, etc.). So to stand out and get the best from those pools of talent, it is vitally important to have great job titles. Copywriters know that the most important part of an advertisement is the headline. Know then that the job title is the headline for the advertisement of your open job on job boards.

Job Title Best Practices:

  1. Keep you job title searchable – using common, industry standard terms
  2. Be specific – include the key required skill (for example: “Senior Java Developer” instead of just “Senior Developer”)
  3. Avoid CAPS, gimmicky terms (i.e. Rock Star), company specific terms/titles/job numbers (i.e. “Senior Java Developer” instead of “Java Developer II – 789665”), special characters (except hyphens), abbreviations (i.e. use Senior instead of Sr), or punctuation
  4. Job title length not to exceed 60 characters (including spaces)…and ideally 40 characters or more
  5. Use correct spelling
  6. Add a hook that attracts your targeted talent and maybe even repels the wrong talent. For example, if you have a dog friendly office, you could use “Senior Java Developer for dog friendly office”

As soon as a potential applicant clicks on the job title to learn more, the full text of your job posting will pop up. The first paragraph and/or bullet points is what is read first. This is where you make your case to get the person to apply. It is very important to affect a potential candidate’s desire to apply. The job market is tightening and competition is increasing. The following are best practices for the job posting’s text.

Job Posting Content Best Practices:

  1. Do not start off with your company name and/or description of your company and what you do
  2. Start off with strong, attention grabbing WIIFM (what’s in it for me) paragraph – sell the job to the potential applicant, but avoid things that everyone else can say just as easily as you can (i.e. we reward performance, work with great people, etc.) because that does not grab attention
  3. Focus on the job seeker throughout the job post…it is not about you, what you need, etc. – it’s about what the job seeker wants and what the job seeker is looking for
  4. Job posting copy length should be about 700 to 750 words…too short and less people apply and too long and less people apply. This seems to be the sweet spot by several studies
  5. Make sure the requirements and preferences are clearly distinguishable…ideally make them totally separated – the “must haves” vs the “desired”
  6. Talk about the day-to-day activities and responsibilities – and using accurate percentiles helps – i.e. 80% of time spent on social media or 15% travel
  7. Add several hooks to attract your targeted talent and maybe even repel the wrong talent – again these would be fairly specific to you or to very few companies and not something most companies can offer, like “medical and dental”
  8. Show how this job helps others and say who is helped by the work done because people want to know the value of the job being done
  9. Indicate how the job functions within the organization or who the job reports to because people want to know how their role fits in within the company
  10. Give job seekers a sense of your organization’s style and culture
  11. List the location or locations that the position could work from within the job post
  12. Include a strong equal opportunity statement
  13. Use bullet points (30-50% of content) and avoid big blocks of text
  14. Don’t use cliche phrases like high-growth position, fact-paced environment, outside the box, synergistic, etc.
  15. Mention the job title multiple times within the job posting, but don’t overdo it
  16. Use lots of verbs – more specifically action verbs (no more than 10% passive verbs for the entire posting)
  17. Use short sentences and short paragraphs
  18. Use transition words liberally
  19. Do not use formal phrases like “the candidate” or “the applicant” or “qualified applicants” or “the ideal applicant”
  20. Use second person voice and balance the use of “we” and “you” statements and make sure there are more “you” than “we” statements (at least an equal number and up to 50% more “you” statements)
  21. Do not use directive language like “applicants need to” or “ought to” or “must”
  22. Do not repeat phrases over and over again
  23. Keep the reading ease high and grade level of words low (using less difficult words to improve readability)
  24. Keep your job postings gender neutral (use Gender Decoder for Job Ads)
  25. Include key words and alternative terms (i.e. AS/400, i-Series, System i, IBM i, etc.) because you never know what terms will be searched
  26. Avoid CAPS, gimmicky terms (i.e. Rock Star), company specific terms/titles, industry buzzwords, or over-representing the opportunity
  27. Use correct spelling (if you hold it against job seekers with spelling errors in resumes, why would you think it is OK to have misspelled words here?)
  28. Ask job seekers to apply only if they meet all of the requirements listed and specifically state that applications that do not meet the requirements will not be considered
  29. Add a call to action (i.e. apply) and say how to apply, what the next step might be, and how long the process takes and how long before they might hear about the next step
  30. Include salary and compensation information – somewhat controversial topic, but it ranks very high in what candidates want to see before applying and it saves time by candidates self-selecting out if you can not afford them
  31. Include whether the position offers relocation assistance or visa transfer/sponsorship, because these applicants don’t want to waste their time applying to everything when it is not listed in your jobs
  32. Add graphics and videos, if possible – this always increases engagement and conversion rates (real photos or video is better – not a commercial or stock images)


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Eric Putkonen is a public speaker / presenter and he is passionate about recruiting / talent acquisition & retention, culture & employment brand, engagement, and leadership (which affects all of the prior).

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