We’re all familiar with job postings. At some point you probably spent hours sifting through them to find your next job, so you know the basics. That’s why it’s surprising that so many are dense, boring and bland. It’s like everyone that writes a job posting forgets how our brains work when we’re looking for a job.

What I lack in experience I make up for in enthusiasm!

Whether you’re an HR professional with a laundry list of positions to fill or a startup CEO trying to find your first employee, keeping a few fundamental truths in mind when you sit down to write your next job posting can improve your odds of finding the right candidate.

Great Jobs Don’t Need Great Postings

If you’re a sexy startup or an industry leader your job posting is going to get attention no matter how you write it. Candidates know they want to work for you so you don’t have to work hard to sell them on it. It’s companies that don’t have a surplus of capital and brand recognition that benefit from investing a little extra energy into their job ads.

Poor Candidates Aren’t Picky

Everything about your job posting should be built to appeal to your ideal candidate because lousy candidates will apply regardless. It’s easy to look at an inbox full of resumes and assume your posting is effective but you’re trying to fill a job, not collect resumes. If you’re not attracting qualified candidates you’re wasting your time.

The candidates you want won’t be scraping the bottom of the barrell and applying to every job in their field. They can afford to skip over your opportunity because it’s badly formatted, light on details or lacks energy.

Nobody Reads Them

Not at first, anyway. The first thing a candidate does is scan for bullet points and dollar signs. If they see something that piques their interest they’ll backtrack through the posting to pull out the relevant details. If they don’t - because the posting is a wall of text or it’s a list as long as their arm - they’ll bounce.

Keep your postings tight by highlighting interesting responsibilities rather than listing every mundade duty the position entails. You want to entice qualified candidates and it’s possible to bury what’s compelling about your opportunity beneath a mountain of minutiae.

Everybody's A ‘Team Player’

The same goes for ‘excellent communicator’, ‘hard worker’ and ‘self-starter’. These are meaningless requirements because everyone believes they’re all of the above. They’re definitely qualities that you’re looking for but the ‘Experience’ section of your job posting should focus on hard skills and provable qualifications.

It also pays to critically assess what’s really required for the position. Do they really need Salesforce experience or will any CRM do? There’s nothing wrong with having a long list of requirements but being too specific can result in qualified candidates passing on your opportunity.

A job posting is the first step in the hiring process. Its responsible for filling your talent funnell and giving you the best chance at landing the ideal candidate. If you think like that candidate, highlight what appeals to them and don’t have unreasonable expectations you’ll see better results from your search process.

Are there some things that really irritate you about job postings? Share them in the comments! To stay in touch with Martyn Bassett Associates and get notifications about everything from job postings to new blog entries, follow us on Twitter or connect with us on LinkedIN

Views: 1920

Comment by Jason Webster on October 3, 2012 at 12:25pm

Thanks for the thoughtful article. I think the topic of job descriptions deserves a great deal of discussion, and appreciate your perspective. I disagree though that sexy startups or industry leaders don't need to innovate on job descriptions. To the contrary, I live in San Francisco and the competition for talent is extremely high. Companies are taking fantastic steps to show off the "people" in their company. You are right that no one wants to read a job description, nonetheless a passive candidate. My theory is that: "your employees are your best social recruiters". Here's a Salesforce.com Case Study that shows exactly what I mean. Salesforce.com is an industry leader AND at the forefront of innovating job descriptions. [disclaimer: I'm a Co-Founder at Ongig]

Comment by Tiffany Branch on October 8, 2012 at 10:19am

I think the problem these days is that the ATS populates various job sites. Thus, employers are no longer "writing ads" like we did pre-ATS days. Now you are just simply uploading the job description to whatever site you choose to post the job. I remember bck in the 90;s spending a lot of dollars having Bernard-Hodes writing ads for our newspaper ads.

Comment by Mitch Sullivan on October 9, 2012 at 5:23am

This is a great blog, Cody. Thanks.

Comment by Jen Dewar on October 15, 2012 at 5:16pm

Really great points, Cody. I recently did a webinar on this topic, and discussed many of the same tips. Some of the other things I discussed:

  • Using normal job titles - nobody knows what a Marketing Wizard is, or if it's worth their time to apply. Also, nobody is searching for that term, so the job seekers that are in high demand are very unlikely to ever see the position, let alone apply.
  • Showing what's in it for the job seeker - as you mentioned, top job seekers are being a little picky in where they apply, so you need to show them what makes you stand out. Employment branding is really important, especially for smaller companies who don't have a big brand to stand behind. Share information on benefits, responsibility level and opportunities for advancement - these are things that make top candidates want to apply.
  • Using performance based descriptions - this goes along with your point of hard skills and provable qualifications. Job descriptions should show what a day in the job looks like and what will be expected. If you're hiring a sales person responsible for $500,000/year in revenue and 20% renewals, say so. Not only will it attract qualified candidates that are looking for that type of opportunity, it will weed out the unqualified candidates that can't fill those requirements.

Check out the webinar on our blog: http://blog.bright.com/2012/09/12/write-job-descriptions-that-attra...


Jen Picard

Marketing, Bright.com

Comment by Amy McDonald on November 15, 2012 at 4:14pm

Great blog post, Cody. I'm sharing it!

Amy McDonald




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