Write a Job Posting to Attract the Candidates You Want

by Marcianne Kuethen
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“Oh my gosh, Tim, what happened in here?” asked Nan as she surveyed the disheveled stacks of papers all over her business partner’s desk. “I take two days off, and it snows in here!”

“I posted our job ad like we’d talked about, and these are all the resumes that came in,” Tim grumbled, waving his hand at the disorderly piles. “The problem is, none of them seem like a good fit for our open position. I’m not very impressed with the candidates I’ve managed to reach on the phone. They don’t seem motivated or even have the experience we want. I sure don’t want to end up with another slacker!”

“I hear you,” Nan agreed. “Well, if we’re getting the wrong kind of people, maybe we need to rewrite the job posting,” she said, pulling up a chair. “Let’s figure out how we can do better.”

Does this story sound familiar to you? Have you posted your job out there on the Internet, only to be inundated with resumes yet frustrated at the quality and type of candidates it attracts? Then consider these proven tips, collected from various experts like CareerBuilder, Monster, and Amtec to help you write a better job posting:

Think like a job seeker.  Write a you-centered posting so candidates can picture themselves in this job. Imagine you are speaking directly to a job seeker as you describe the job’s responsibilities and skills that will be utilized for the position. Saying, “We need your expertise in developing relationships to help expand our growing client base” feels more personal than, “The right person will expand our existing client base.”

Tell them what’s in it for them. Job seekers are wondering, What’s in it for me? Of course, you’ll want them to know about your company benefits. But in addition, what is special about your company that will enhance their daily grind? Does a free dessert cart run through the building every afternoon? (I wish!) Is the job especially meaningful in some way? Is there opportunity for this person to really make a difference? Whether it’s your location, company stability, upward growth, on-the-job training, fun-loving atmosphere, or Casual Fridays, try to highlight your biggest attractions in your first paragraph. You only have a few seconds to grab a candidate’s attention!

Use traditional key words. As you list experience, responsibilities, and skills needed, focus on using key words that the candidates will use to search for your job posting. It’s okay to say you’re looking for a sales ninja once, but for search engine purposes, use a traditional job title at least twice in your posting. And repeatedly use other keywords pertinent to the job to increase the searchability of your post. (How about tiramisu, pudding, apple pie? Okay, actual examples would be top performer, customer base, sales goals!)

Include a challenge. If the job requires occasional overtime but offers rewarding relationships, say so. If you’re looking for someone who will go the extra mile or can break the previous salesperson’s record, throw out that challenge. (Or, maybe this employee will have to carry that dessert cart up four flights of stairs, but get to eat whatever’s left over at the end of the day?) Chances are, the underachiever won’t even think of applying, and you’ll pique the interest of the candidates who are just dying to prove themselves.

List a salary or pay rate. Even if you can’t or don’t want to be specific, at least give a range. Remember, you’re thinking like a job seeker here. Would you be willing to spend a lot of time applying when the compensation isn’t even mentioned? Neither are today’s candidates. As CareerBuilder’s Mary Lorenz puts it, “It’s important that you let job seekers know your organization understands that money is, if not everything, at least pretty important.” (Second to dessert, I’m sure.)

Make it visually appealing. Lorenz recommends using paragraphs and bullets if your text looks too bulky, like this:

  • Chocolate
  • Vanilla
  • Strawberry

Also, “CareerBuilder’s data finds that job postings that include logos bring in 13 to 21 percent more applications. The number goes up to 34 percent when the job posting is accompanied by a recruitment video. Why? Videos help you communicate your employment brand more clearly than any other medium, because potential recruits get to ‘see, feel, and hear’ what it’s truly like to work at your organization from the employees and leaders themselves.”

Now that you’ve received all this advice, be aware that it’s a challenge to incorporate every suggestion exactly! But it’s worth the effort. For your reference, here’s a sample job posting that comes close to the mark:

QA Manager: Are you a seasoned leader in Quality Assurance? Looking to join and contribute to a truly outstanding, 30-year-old company with a caring, family atmosphere? (Include video link here.) Our electronics technology company wants you as our Quality Assurance Manager. You’ll report directly to the CEO and help improve a solid environment that embraces continuous growth and teamwork. You’ll also receive great healthcare benefits and competitive compensation.

As the Quality Assurance Manager, you will be responsible for all quality-related initiatives in this multi-line manufacturing and assembly environment:

  • leading your team of QA technicians and inspectors
  • maintaining the ISO 9001 program
  • performing internal quality audits
  • creating, measuring and revising test procedures
  • maintaining quality records, documentation, data, and analysis.

Your day-to-day duties will involve organizing and leading Quality Assurance (both company and customer) audits, ensuring resolution of discovered issues, managing and motivating staff to maintain conformity, setting employee performance goals, and providing and creating monthly reports. Most importantly, you will be called upon to solve our client’s quality concerns. You will make a difference!

When posting the job, remember to proofread to ensure that your company is well represented. A glaring typo could turn away a top performer from applying. Lorenz also advises posting your job across multiple, relevant industries to attract more candidates.

Writing a great job posting using these tips will take time and focus. But it will also help you attract the kind of candidates you want, and discourage unqualified, unmotivated candidates from applying. You can feel confident that you’re putting your best foot forward the next time you post an open position. And with the time you’ll save not having to screen unqualified resumes, you can get back to your real job—or track down that dessert cart!

Wish you could see an example of a real job posting? Click here.

For sound advice on writing a position profile, read Selecting Winners.

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