Picture the last time you searched for a new job—you’ve grabbed your coffee and popcorn (because if you’re anything like me, you deserve a reward of caffeine and snacks for even considering this dreaded task) and you open your laptop. You begin your search with hope. You know the perfect job is out there and you are taking matters into your own hands. You type “project manager jobs” into Google and thousands of job postings come up.
After a few location filters, you start at the top of the page and work your way down. As you scroll, you’re having a hard time staying interested. “Wait, is that the same job I just saw?” “This doesn’t sound like what I thought my job title was” “What’s a ‘software ninja’?” After a few more cups of coffee and some Buzzfeed breaks, you realize that as you are going through the motions, you are nowhere closer to finding your dream job.
Is your job posting compelling enough to make candidates click on it, let alone apply?
Why do many job descriptions fail to attract top candidates? Answer: JOB POSTINGS ARE DULL.
Here are 5 tips on how to write attention-worthy job postings to interest the most sought-after candidates:
1. Make it search friendly.
In his book On Writing Well, William Zinsser says, “The most important sentence in any article is the first one. If it doesn’t induce the reader to proceed to the second sentence, your article is dead.”
With respect to Mr. Zinsser, the most important part of a job posting is the title. Without a compelling title, readers will not even click to see the first sentence. After the title, however, the first few sentences are certainly the most important part—not just to impress the candidate, but to rank well for SEO keyword searches. When creating a new job posting, it is crucial to think of it as an advertisement, not a legal document.
Choose relevant job titles and keywords. Advertising, “Software Ninja” may seem like a good way to stand out, but the post may get buried under more keyword-heavy organic searches. Elevate the title by making it searchable and pertinent. If the best job candidates can’t find the job listing, then it makes no difference whether it is great or disastrous.
The more relevant a job title and summary are, the higher they will rank in search results. This is the best way to get attention without paying for a premium spot. A great tip is to do a search on the job posting websites in the mindset of a job-hunter. Find the most common keywords and use these (as well as synonyms) to get the best visibility and search results.
2. Make it aesthetically pleasing.
Advertisements are intended to sell something. Job postings sell the company and the available position. The better the ad, the better candidates it attracts. Think about what attracts candidates to job advertisements—they need to be aesthetically pleasing, compelling, and thought-provoking. Include logos, links, videos, and imagery where appropriate. It is not enough to just dust off an old job description from 10 years ago! Times (and technology) have changed. In order to see the best results, producing the best and most current job description is crucial.
3. Prioritize the most important must-haves and tasks in the job description.
Although this seems obvious, it’s the biggest pitfall. Many job descriptions make a good job sound like slave labor. Every good employee understands that they will sometimes need to take on tasks that were not listed in the original job description, so it’s unnecessary to list off a dozen possible side responsibilities. Avoid scaring off a potential top candidate by overdoing it the “must-haves.” A long laundry list of tasks gives little perception into what is most important, and it can make good people wary of what they’re signing up for. Target the top five or six pivotal responsibilities of the position and focus on those.
4. Know why your company is great. Advertise culture and benefits.
Show some personality! In a Glassdoor survey, 76% of job seekers said they wanted details on what makes a company an attractive place to work. Use the job description to answer this question. While the primary focus should be on using clear and concise language, try to give applicants a sense of the company’s fun side. Company culture does not need to be outrageously unique, but convey it with enough precision to stand out from the pack of generic descriptions. The right position at the wrong company can make a new hire walk right back out the door, which costs the company time and money.
5. Optimize for mobile.
In today’s job market, a job listing that does not work on mobile is missing out on more than half of the potential candidates. Americans are more connected than ever before, and job seekers are looking for convenience.
Make sure that the job posting is mobile-responsive and friendly to all devices from smartphones and tablets to laptops and traditional office computers.
A job posting is the company’s version of a resume. A great job description will encourage more qualified candidates to apply by getting them excited about the position. Accelerate the hiring process by following these tips.