10 Steps to Writing Effective Job Postings
The Client Training Corner
March 03, 2008
Do your job postings grab the seekers’ attention? Do they make job seekers shout “That’s my next job and I am going to go get it!” ? Boost your ROI and reach more qualified seekers with this countdown of top ten tips.
Best Practice #10: Create a catchy job title
Job ads serve different purposes. In a competitive market you want to be the first person to speak to the most qualified job seeker. By focusing on formatting, job ad content such as benefits and required unique qualfications as well as job ad titles, you will increase the chances of your posting returning in a job seekers search results.
Besides the visual and logical reasons for a catchy title and well written job ad, there is a technical reason— a large percentage of job seekers search Monster using only one keyword. By incorporating the keywords associated with your job in the title and description of the job posting, your posting will become more relevant to the job seeker and be returned higher in a job seeker’s search results.
Creating an effective job description is great, but the secret to getting people to read your ad is a catchy job title! Job title is the “gateway to the job ad”. The reality of the Internet is that there is endless content. When a job seeker searches for a position, they will almost always receive more than one result in their search. In fact, they may receive hundreds of similar jobs in their defined location. A catchy job title will guarantee that your ad is viewed. If you have written an excellent description, that may be all it takes to guarantee an Apply.
Examples of effective job titles include:
Structural Civil Engineer registered in VA with AutoCAD exp.
Bi-lingual Spanish Customer Service Manager, 3 yrs exp., $35K
Infectious Disease Registered Nurse (RN), NO WEEKENDS!, $ign-on Bonus
Internal audit – SOX Accountant – Boston – Free Parking!
Best Practice #9: Know the job…or at least sound like you do!
A harsh recruiting reality is that you have probably been asked to source for positions you know nothing about! Sometimes, as recruiters, we barely have much more than a title for the position. If that has never happened, consider yourself one of the lucky few. For everyone else, know that there are lots of tricks out there to help you gain knowledge of the position.
Nothing replaces a good profiling session with the hiring manager. If you know that isn’t going to happen, turn to the Internet for help. Researching similar posted positions is a good starting point. You can also utilize functionality like Monster’s One-Click Ad Writer or Custom Ad Writer, which is typically included with your Job Posting package. If you are working from a job description, be sure that it reflects the current responsibilities of the position. Too often, job descriptions become outdated and do not accurately describe the ideal candidate of today’s marketplace.
Be diligent about collecting that data. If you are going to be responsible for sourcing candidates, you will eventually have to learn about the position. You might as well ask the questions in the beginning. You will save yourself a lot of time in the long run.
Best Practice #8: Speak to top performers
Job postings are a recruiter’s introduction to job seekers. Seekers absolutely form an opinion of the person responsible for creating the posting. Be sure that the impression you make is positive. An easy way to do this is by creating a posting that clearly states you understand the position. Target the candidates you are seeking and speak their language. Drive top candidates you identify through networking and referrals to that job posting. Make it clear that you are in control of the process and are anxious to speak with them.
Top performers know what a job entails. Since they are typically aware that they have a choice of where they work, they are interested in hearing why they should work for your company rather than your competition.
Your approach will vary by discipline and candidate level, but there should be considerable thought given to your strategy for targeting the best of the best. As we all know, top performers DO read Internet job postings!
Best Practice #7: Be clear and concise
Too often we become so focused on our job postings, that we completely lose sight of what we are saying. We have established that effective Internet job postings are much more marketing documents than job descriptions. Be sure that the language you use in your postings is clear and concise. Ensure that the keywords a job seeker would use to search for positions are included in the posting. The keywords should be incorporated into the description, not simply listed at the bottom of the page.
It is human nature for a job seeker to deem themselves qualified for a position, even when it is clear they are not. Effectively defining the position and creating an accurate skill-based profile of the ideal candidate will net more targeted results. Effective job postings will provide enough information to help qualified seekers to opt-in, or more importantly to have unqualified seekers opt-out.
Best Practice #6: Formatting matters
Once you know what you want to include in your posting, utilize a consistent format to convey the information. Not only will this make it easy for seekers to recognize your positions, but it will also maximize the chance that they read important information. In addition, consistency across all of your organization’s job postings will send a confident and strong marketing message to the seekers who may like what they see on one posting and then view all others posted.
There are many ways you can do this. A common practice is to break the content into five sections:
1. Company Information, where you position both your company and the services you provide, and then, staffing agencies would also include information on your client company, where you position their brand as well.
2. Position Description, where you provide an overview of the position and all things fantastic about the job.
3. Requirements, which you split into two sections – the basic requirements for the position, and the preferred requirements, which are the ‘nice to have’ skills.
4. Benefits, this is your opportunity to close the deal. Be sure to leverage anything competitive here about your company or your client’s organization! You can find out this information directly from a company Web site or by asking questions.
5. A clear call to action. Tell them what to do next, Apply Online.
If you are not utilizing a custom template for your postings, experiment with basic HTML or use of the formatting toolbar. Remember, that an Internet job posting is not constrained by space, but a job seeker’s attention span IS! The use of bullets and numbers is widely accepted as a best practice to keep seeker attention. Bolding paragraph headings is also an easy way to attract eyes to important content.
Best Practice #5: Include a call to action
It seems obvious, but closing your posting with a clear call to action is commonly overlooked. In fact, we tend to confuse the job seeker by offering too many options to apply. Go as far as to tell them what to do next. It is totally acceptable to write, “If this position sounds interesting, please click APPLY ONLINE to submit your resume for consideration.” It is also a best practice to limit the number of response options. Offering an email address, a link to your own career site, an Apply Now button and even a fax number, leads to job seeker confusion. The less options, the better. You will also reduce the number of candidates who apply for the same job through multiple means. Whatever your preferred method to receive applications is, state it and enforce it!
Best Practice #4: Use screening questionnaires
Once a job seeker is interested in your position, utilize the optional screening features to gather more information. Some recruiters think this is burdensome to job seekers and choose not to use them. We actually see that it draws the seeker further into the process. Screening questionnaires give a sense that the job is for real and the recruiter is serious. They also save you a tremendous amount of time by replacing an initial phone screen.
Screening questionnaires are not always applicable to every position. Know when they will save you time and use them accordingly.
Best Practice #3: Follow-up
The number one job seeker complaint is that employers never acknowledge receipt of their resumes. If you are not doing this, that means you are not thanking them for their interest in your organization. This means you are NOT viewing them as consumers. Good luck selling them your product or service down the road!
Following up can be as simple as utilizing Auto-Response Letters to acknowledge receipt of their resume submission. Job seekers say that is enough. At least they know the technology worked. If you really want to stand out, experiment with sending more customized letters based on screening results, sending letters after you have reviewed and considered their resumes, or including a marketing message or a request for referral.
Best Practice #2: Ensure your ad is the best one on the site
Tens of thousands of jobs are posted every day. That means that yours is NEVER alone! You should ALWAYS search to see where your ad will be placed. There is no reason that your job posting should not be the best one on the site! You have the luxury of previewing the competition, and “one-upping” them! You hear a lot about the war for talent. Make sure you are doing everything you can to win it.
Best Practice #1: Capitalize on your brand…or create one!
The Internet has provided job seekers with something they never had before, CHOICE. How you position your organization or your client and how you package the opportunity has become increasingly important.
Technology has made it easy for you to graphically enhance your postings. In fact, they can look as if they are housed on your own corporate Web site. There are plenty of examples out there. I am sure you have seen them…and most likely remember seeing them. That is the point. You want job seekers to REMEMBER having seen your ad. The best way to do this is to leverage your brand.
Corporations spend millions of dollars to increase brand awareness and recognition to drive consumers to your organizations products or services. When you create and leverage your brand throughout the recruitment process you further establish yourself as a serious company with a streamlined message.
Whether you’re a corporation or a staffing agency that does a lot of business from referrals, you need to view job seekers as consumers. We all have something to sell. Agencies sell your client’s opportunity, but also your services as an agency. Corporations focus on your most important requisitions. Remember that the recruiting process cannot leave a bad taste in their mouth! The goal of Internet recruiting is to bring top talent into client organizations. A well-executed job posting can do just that, but it can ALSO bring a new consumer to your brand. Sounds a lot like marketing, doesn’t’ it?
If you don’t feel that you HAVE a brand, it is relatively easy to build one on the Internet. Every time you create a posting, it could potentially be viewed by thousands of people. The impression you leave can be lasting. It is definitely worth the upfront time investment.
Related Reading: Building a Compelling Employer Brand