Writing Job Postings: Marketing for Candidates
| Published: March 08, 2016 | Comments
There’s a fierce competition going on right now, one that continues late into the night and right on through the weekend. It’s not being held in a billion dollar sports stadium, it’s being held across numerous digital platforms like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed, and CareerBuilder. It’s the competition for talented job candidates. If you’re looking to hire top talent by posting open positions at your company, you’re competing with thousands of well-known, reputable, deep-pocketed companies with instant name recognition. It’s within this context that optimizing your own company’s job postings becomes critical.
Are your current job postings suffering from a lack of applicants, or perhaps not the “right” ones? With so many companies vying for a piece of the talent pie, job-seekers have been afforded the ability to become selective when it comes to responding to job posts. Are your postings a turn-off to those who read them? In order to be competitive in the job-seeker marketplace, the best strategy is to apply some marketing basics to make your jobs as desirable as possible to potential future employees.
Let’s turn the tables for a moment. As a recruiter or hiring manager, you see plenty of resumes come across your desk or monitor. You’ve no doubt seen resumes that stand out from the crowd, for reasons both good and bad. Now, browse a few different postings from different companies on the web and then one of your own. Does your job posting stick out from the crowd? If so, is it for the right reasons?
Unfortunately, during this little experiment you’ve probably noticed that a great deal of job postings look like they were cut from the same cookie cutter template. These are often plagued by a number of maladies like large blocks of impersonal text and giant lists of bullet points containing buzzwords, jargon, and highly optimistic and demanding qualifications. Fortunately for you, in a space where much of the competition looks nearly identical, the task of standing out from the crowd won’t be too complicated to achieve.
THINK LIKE A MARKETER
Marketing is everything and everything is marketing, including the job posting you put up on career sites. Toss those tired templates and forget that forlorn formatting. For smaller companies, it’s likely that your posting will make the first impression on the job-seeker who reads it. Do you want candidates who are applying because you show up next in the list of open jobs, or do you want candidates who are genuinely excited and interested in your open position? Take the time to create candidate personas like a marketer would create buying personas. What are job-seekers looking for in an employer, and what can you as an employer uniquely offer to job-seekers? What is your company’s value proposition?
YOUR CULTURAL IDENTITY
Now that you’re thinking like a marketer, it’s time to think about your company’s brand and culture. Instead of simply writing a list of needs and requirements, write your job posting in the voice of your company’s brand using personal language addressed at the potential job seeker. Doing so will immediately give potential candidates a great feeling for who the company is and what it’s like to be on the team. You should definitely include an “about the company” section. Here you can brag about the company and what makes it an awesome place to work, play up the perks and benefits (especially anything unique or differentiating), describe the company’s values, goals, and long term vision, and how does this job add value to that mission. Try to think of the challenges that someone in this role would face. This allows candidates to perform pre-interview brainstorming and builds excitement about jumping in to solve real world problems.
THE TASKS AT HAND
We’ve all seen this job posting before: a page after page list of multi-sentence descriptions that go into detail about each and every minute task that could potentially fall under the realm of the position. Not only is this boring but the longer it is, the more likely it is to be skimmed over unread. The best strategy here is to keep both the list and individual descriptions short and simple. Focus on the main tasks that the hired candidate will perform on a daily basis. It’s important to remember that tasks are teachable; almost anyone with no experience can learn to perform a task. More valuable are skills and behavioral qualities, which are often innate and have a dramatic effect on the impact a job-seeker will make in your organization.
OTHER COMMON FAUX-PAS
- Overuse of buzzwords and jargon. Unless absolutely necessary for a highly specialized field, keep the language simple and straightforward.
- Use of vague descriptors. Avoid using adverbs and adjectives that are subjective in nature and open the door to interpretation. This includes words like frequently, complex, some, and occasionally
- Gendered pronouns. If you take the tip above and write using personal language addressed to the candidate (you/your) and not writing in the third person, this is easy to accomplish.
- Giant wall of unbroken text. Use bullet points and take advantage of white space to make the posting easy on the eyes. This makes it easier to read and comes with the added benefit of making it more mobile friendly.
- Lengthy and difficult application process. Nobody likes spending 90 minutes filling out page after page of an online application asking for things like the phone number of a supervisor from 10 years and 6 jobs ago. This is a major turn-off for top talent who aren’t proactively searching or can afford to be choosy.
SO WHAT DO I INCLUDE?
It may seem like there are a lot of “don’ts” for writing a job posting, so you may be asking yourself this question. Make sure to state the basic purpose and objectives of someone in the role, including the department, general reporting hierarchy, critical duties, certifications needed, and any specialized equipment or software used. Other relevant information often overlooked are things such as work location, Full-time or Part-time status, exempt status, and an overview of benefits. There is debate to be had around the topic of including salary range, but including it can save you time in the long run by not chasing after candidates who are looking for more than you can offer.
THE NEXT STEP IS UP TO YOU
Take some time after reading this to critique a few of the open job postings you currently have online. Chances are you’ll come up with a list of things that you can improve it in order to become more attractive to job-seekers. Remember, you’re marketing your open position to folks who are potentially seeing hundreds of job postings each day. Using some of the strategies outlined above you should be able to stand out from the crowd, give candidates a better understanding of your company and determine whether they are a cultural “fit”, and garner more excitement and interest from people with a genuine desire to step in and start making contributions towards your company’s goals.
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