Job Posting Tips

Secrets To Writing a Great Job Post

So you want to hire someone?  

You've come to the right place.

The first step is to be clear to yourself about what exactly you are looking for. You first need to know what you’re looking for and why. What are the roles and responsibilities of the position?  What skills are needed to fulfill that role? What prior experience and applicant traits do you consider essential to have?

The second step is to capture this information in an irresistible and informative job posting. A well-crafted job posting not only gets you the best applicants, but also ensures those applicants have a good understanding of what it’s like to work for your company. Just follow our 10 simple tips, and you’ll have the makings of a winning job posting.

 

1. Write an Informative Job Title

The job title is the very first thing that a job seeker sees. They will make a snap judgment, and either move on or read the details of your description. Therefore it’s important that your title makes the right first impression by showing that your job is relevant and of interest.

Be descriptive- Carefully choose which words most effectively convey what the position entails.  Which words are the most transparent and the explanatory for your position?  For example, if the job primarily involves selling, then includes ‘sales’ in the title.

Use relevant keywords- If you were looking for this job, what words would you type into the search bar?  Make sure that the title describes the job using words that relevant job seekers will use.  

Avoid being seen as spam- Don’t use ALL CAPITAL letters because that’s like yelling at the job seekers.  Similarly avoid the use of !, $, * and other symbols that are purely meant to grab attention without substance.  Don’t repeat words in the title either. 

Aim for 25-60 characters in length- This is the sweet spot.  It’s long enough to be descriptive but short enough to be read quickly.

 

2. Describe Why Your Company Is Great

To capture the attention of the best potential employees, you need to make your posting as attractive and intriguing as possible.  Before the advent of the Internet, job seekers viewed fewer than 1,000 job postings (usually in the form of newspaper ads, flyers and employment agency listings) during the course of their job search.  Today’s job seekers can access more than eight million job postings from the Internet alone.  You need to do whatever you can to ensure your posting gets noticed.  If you want to turn the heads of quality candidates, you must think of a job posting as an advertisement.  In the job description, emphasize the most enticing aspects of working for your company to get more attention from top talent. Here are some ways to give your posting that advertising edge:

Highlight great perks- Does the position come with any unusual perks?  Describe desirable job benefits, like flexible hours and telecommuting.  Do you offer snacks or catered lunches?  Can employees bring their dogs to work?  Mention anything that would be attractive to an employee.

Show them why they’ll love your company- Be sure to describe any stellar corporate attributes.  For instance, if your company is known for its excellent employee culture, its industry leadership, or its fantastic products, provide details about those assets.

Check out what others are doing, and do it better- One way to determine how to position your company’s strengths is to see how competitors do it.  Look at the career sites of major companies.  Peruse job search engines like SimplyHired.com, where a candidate would be likely to look for work.  Search for jobs similar to yours and glean them for ideas.  How could you make your job posting more compelling than your competitors’? 

Be truthful in how you represent your company- Ultimately you want to hire someone who will be happy working for you.  If you paint a one-sided or fake company picture, then you set a false expectation for applicants and they will probably be unhappy the moment they walk in your door.  If you set realistic expectations about what it is like to work for your company, then you will find a much better mutual match. 

 

3. Describe the Position in Detail

A job is so much more than a set of tasks.  After reading your job posting, applicants should clearly understand all aspects of what the position entails.  The posting should encompass the full scope of the job—not just everyday duties, but also the role the employee would play in your organization.

Cover all of the job’s key elements- Consider these three areas and define the elements under each category:

  • Overarching long-term goals
  • Regular tasks and responsibilities
  • Coworkers, clients and organizations the employee would interact with

Describe cool job traits- Get into the mindset of the ideal candidate and highlight job qualities you think would motivate this person to apply.  Depending on the job, you could mention challenging problem solving, fascinating market research, creative expression, or interaction with lots of people.

Provide as much information as possible- People choose their jobs based on a range of criteria.  If your job posting doesn’t give enough information, you’ll get a ton of applications from unqualified people, wasting both their time and yours.  Help potential candidates and yourself by including as much pertinent information as possible.  Make sure to include such important info as:

  • Job type (part-time, full-time, contract-based, temporary)
  • Job location and work hours
  • Approximate salary and benefits
  • Any necessary information about the job’s physical environment

 

4. Describe What You Are Looking For

Chances are that you want more than just a warm body.  If you are looking for certain skills, experience, or traits, then include those in your job posting.  While some job seekers may ignore your requirements, chances are that if you are clear about what traits you are looking for, you will significantly cut down on your later work sifting through unqualified applicants.

Describe desired traits in detail- Take a moment to spell out what you know you want.  Some common areas with desired requirements are:

  • Skills, knowledge and attributes necessary for success
  • Required education and work experience
  • Work eligibility (note if a permanent citizenship or a work visa is required)

Break your desires into requirements vs. nice-to-haves- Sometimes it will be hard to find a candidate that meets all your desires, so instead of asking for everything and the kitchen sink, prioritize what you care the most about.

  • Required Qualifications – minimum skills, traits, and experience necessary to do the job;
  • Preferred Qualifications – skills, traits, or experience that would help the employee do the job; anything nice to have but not mandatory

Don’t discriminate- In describing what you are looking for, make sure that you are not illegally discriminating against anyone based on their race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disabilities, or genetic information.  In the US, this mandate is articulated in the US Equal Employment Opportunity laws.

 

5. Be Clear and Use Your Own Voice

Creating an information-rich job posting that’s also easy to understand can be tricky.  Here are some ways to attract a candidate’s interest. 

Keep the language simple- Simple, clear wording will help get your message across quickly and effectively.  Even if the job is complex, your posting doesn’t have to be.  Using big words doesn’t always make your company sound more intellectual.  It just makes the job posting harder to understand.  This rule, however, doesn’t apply to widely-used industry jargon.

Use action words- Begin new lines with action words (verbs) when possible.  This helps keep the post engaging and focus the reader’s attention on the task or responsibility.  When reviewing your posting, look for verbs in phrases and try to move them to the beginning.  Compare, for example, “Video content reviewing and curating” with “Reviewing and curating video content.” The second version creates instant clarity – no rewriting necessary.

Avoid generalities- Overused terms with little substance don’t help job seekers understand what makes your job different from other jobs.  Instead, get specific. Think about the job and what it requires.  For instance, a trait like “good communication skills” probably shows up on just about every job posting out there.  If the job needs the employee to explain engineering concepts to salespeople, this description would be far stronger: “ability to explain technical concepts to nontechnical coworkers.”

Use your company’s voice- A job posting is the perfect opportunity to give applicants a sense of your company culture.  By using your company’s voice to write job postings, candidates will get a better sense of the type of company before applying.  If your office is fun, forward-thinking and creative, let the posting reflect that.  Likewise, a more traditional company should have a more formal posting.

Keep it neutral- You don’t want to alienate candidates with careless wording.  If possible, avoid using personal pronouns (he, she, him, her, etc.).  Choose neutral terms related to gender, race, age and sexual orientation, unless any of those factors are necessary for the position.  Simply replace pronouns like “he” or “she” with the word “you” or the job title itself (e.g., “The marketing associate must be able to…”).

 

6. Group Information Logically

A long or complicated-looking job posting deters people from reading it.  Organize your posting in a way that makes it simple to read, and easy for job seekers to refer to when fine-tuning their resumes and cover letters.

Organize the elements- Breaking up the posting into smaller chunks makes it easy for a job seeker to find particular pieces of information later.  Here are some common, useful categories:

  • Position Overview – goals, responsibilities and daily tasks
  •  Required Qualifications – skills or traits necessary to do the job; minimum education and work experience; work status
  • Preferred Qualifications – skills or traits that would help the employee do the job; any attributes (higher education, years of experience) that would be nice to have but not mandatory
  • Other Information – job type (part-time/full-time), type of pay (salary, hourly, stipend, volunteer), work hours, department, specific job location (city and state), contact information (HR department email or phone)
  •  Employer Information – brief description of your company or organization, with a link to a website

Call attention to important information- Use bolditalics, or underlines (but not all three) for the titles of each section.

Use bullets- Bullet as much information as possible.  As you can see above, bullets visually separate each responsibility or skill, making your posting easier to read and understand.

 

7. Make It Actionable

Now that you have captured a candidate’s interest, direct that interest towards action.  Tell the candidate how to receive more information and how to apply.

Give clear application instructions- List all the components necessary for the application (resume, cover letter, references, writing samples, etc).  Provide a deadline and a place to submit (email, link to your career site or a third-party application site, maybe even a fax number).  Include an email address, phone number, external website or other way a candidate can contact you regarding their application.

Provide relevant links- Every job posting should include a short description of your organization, with a link to a web page.  This gives applicants an opportunity to learn about you quickly.  If possible, include links to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social networking sites.  Every link is a way for job seekers to become engaged with your company and get excited about the possibility of working for you.

Mention other job openings- If you have other related job openings, link to them.  Some job seekers may be more interested in a similar but different job than the posting they initially read.  This will help all your job postings get more coverage.  Make a single job posting do more work for you!

 

8. Write For An Online Audience

How do most people find things online? Using a search engine, of course. Consider these Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tricks to make your job a top search result for job seekers looking somewhere other than your company’s website.

Include relevant keywords- If you were looking for this job, what keywords would you search?  Include those terms in your posting.  For example, if a person looking for your position wants a job that involves database design and working with MySQL, make sure you use those terms.  What other words are often associated with this job?  For example, you may be looking for an “administrative assistant” but other people commonly refer to the same position as an “executive assistant”.  Make sure to include both of those terms in your posting, so long as they are relevant to your job opening.

Watch what you abbreviate- Certain abbreviations can be deadly to your SEO, preventing your posting from turning up in searches.  Expand abbreviations in titles, even common abbreviations like “Sr” for Senior.  Avoid using abbreviations within postings, unless they’re widely used and industry-specific: for example, “CRM" for Customer Relationship Management should be okay.  If you’re ever in doubt about an abbreviation, put yourself in the candidate’s shoes.  If you were looking for this Account Manager position, would you search for “Account Manager” or “Acct Mgr”?

Track your results- Have a way to track which applicants come from which sources.  This is especially important if you post on different job boards or have your own career site.  By tracking your job postings, you’ll be able to tell which sites are bringing you the most qualified candidates.  One basic way to track is to use a unique email address for each source.  A free program like Google Analytics can be a useful tracking tool for beginners and experts alike.

 

9. Ask For a 2nd Opinion

Two (or three, or more) heads are better than one when crafting an effective job posting.

Consult with others early on- Having others look at your job posting will reduce the chance that you miss something important about the job.  Review your posting with others at your company, such as the hiring manager, supervisors, and coworkers.  These people may be able to provide new insights about the job’s requirements, and can provide keys to unlock the job’s “attractiveness factor.”  If the position is new, talk to anyone who will be working with the person you hire.

Get extra feedback later, too- Once you’ve written out your job posting, you’ll want to have some extra eyeballs go over it again. Again, ask coworkers and supervisors, preferably the ones who helped you in the early stages. Also be sure to nab yourself a good editor or proofreader at this stage.

 

10. Spread the Word

The content’s informative, the sections are clearly divided, and the writing is engaging and easy to understand. You’re almost done! Now do one last litmus test.

Do a sanity check- Sometimes you’ve been looking at something so long that you can’t imagine it any other way.  Put your posting away for a few days, longer if possible.  When you look at it again, ask yourself these questions:

  • Would I be excited to apply for this job?
  • Does the posting tell me everything I need to know to apply for this job?
  • Is the posting as concise and informative as possible?
  • Is my posting more compelling than my competitors’ job postings?

If you answer “no” even once, go back and make some changes.  If not, your job posting is ready to post!

Post it online- There are a ton of places you can post your perfect job posting, including job search engines and job boards.  Don’t feel limited to just one site or type of site.  If your company has a social media presence, such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, make sure to post your job there too!  A word of caution, however, is to make sure to anonymize your email address to avoid spam or third-party staffing agencies.

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Example Job Posting

To make the above recommendations come alive, here is a quick example of how a job posting can be improved.  The two examples are for the exact same job. Think about it, if you were looking for a job, would you rather apply to the first or the second description?

Bad example:

Mail SOrter!

Mail sorter with 2 or 3 yrs experience.  Notary plus. Must know shipping software from all: UPS, USPS & Fed Ex. Customer serv oriented.

Flexible hours.

 

Good example:

Mail Sorter and Shipping Clerk for Bank

The company: Fictional Bank is a regional bank with a stellar reputation and strong community ties.  We have been in business since 1923 and are known for great customer service, honest advice, and dependable action.

The role: We need to hire a reliable mail sorter to help our Kansas City mailroom continue to run smoothly.  This person will sort incoming and outgoing mail, work with our major shippers, scan all mail with tracking software, and attend to odd jobs that pop up.  We offer flexible hours and allow you to listen to an iPod at a reasonable volume while you work.

Requirements: candidate should have a minimum of 2 years of mailroom experience.  Must understand shipping software from UPS, USPS, and FedEx.  Should be customer service oriented.  Notary experience is a plus.

When applying, provide your full name, resume, contact information, and reference information.

(link to full pdf version and to your website for further reading)