Unfortunately, postings on job boards feel like a dying resource. Yet, they still possess power and can yield fantastic results. So it’s key to get them right if you are going to use them. When a candidate reads a job posting or an ad, it is the first point in which their interest either builds or breaks. So a job posting is easy – just cut and paste the job description, right? Wrong!You are actually creating a marketing piece. You are “advertising” the job and with the goal of driving behavior for someone to take an action. What you don’t want to put out there is a laundry list of responsibilities. My personal favorite bullet? “Other duties as assigned”. Yup – that is going to make someone jump out of their chair and apply.
The main purpose of a posting is to create a compelling reason for someone to take the next step. Forward motion is the goal. If they reach out to you, you have the opportunity to tell them more. So how do you get the “right” people to apply? Here are some tips:
Start with the job title. If the “internal” title doesn’t make sense for targeting, then don’t use it. For example, the title “Marketing Manager II” won’t mean anything much to anyone. Let’s say the job is actually a Demand Gen Specialist. The perfect candidate may gloss over and never even know they missed a great opportunity since they didn’t get past that crappy non-title. Change it to something with which the right target can identify. Or use a headline – “Demand Gen Leader to Build Team”. Test and track different titles to determine what’s working best.
Don’t Waste Their Time
Describe what the job is all about, but do it succinctly. It is not necessary to list every single bullet point from the job description. First, write a short but compelling introduction of the role to create interest and intrigue. If your company has a really cool disruptive product, write about it. Think about who you are targeting. A Senior Director of Engineering will likely care a lot more about the technology being deployed rather than the weekly bar crawls or the discounted subway pass. Sure, it’s a generalization, but create personas for these roles and write accordingly – you will be more likely to resonate with your target audience. As far as bulleted details go – same deal. More on that below.
Think in Their Shoes
The tone and the language of the job ad can play a big part in how a candidate subconsciously feels about the role and company. Far too often the tone comes across as “demanding”, creating a negative experience before any interaction has even begun. Here’s an example: “You will be required to close 3 deals a month to meet your numbers.” How about this instead? “You have a greenfield opportunity to sell our distinct product to a new audience and receive uncapped commission.“ Or how about this: “As a core member of the Sales team, you will be expected to work self-sufficiently and reach your daily goals. Members of senior management will assure assistance for you to achieve your goals by offering continuous professional development and career progression sessions.” See what I did there?
Language should be nuanced to reflect what one will have the opportunity to do, how they will bring value and what they will learn. Set up a positive experience focused on the candidate from the beginning. There will be plenty of time to dig in on numbers and expectations throughout the actual qualification and interview process. But you need to get them there first.
The Must Have’s
Make sure the “Requirements” are reasonable and not limiting to the point where potential strong candidates are opting out. Of course, employees with certain skills are more desirable than others, but it must be determined and made clear what a strict requirement is and what would just be helpful to have. This way, Potential valuable candidates will not bypass your posting because they are missing a “requirement.” Similarly, make sure the years of experience you’re requiring is reasonable. Often times, scrolling down to the bottom of the ad to find the years of experience range is the first thing that a candidate will do before proceeding to read the rest of the posting. So be sure that you truly need someone with 4-7 years of experience before including in order to not discourage junior candidates who have the necessary traits to perform at a high level. Also to save time and headaches, be mindful that years of experiences matches the budget you have for the salary you can pay.
Add Some Character but Don’t Get Too Cute
We’ve all seen the good ones and the bad ones. A particularly uncomfortable ad I remember had a number of references to bananas and focused on becoming “part of their bunch”. Ugghh. There is a fine line between a boiler plate job ad that does not convey anything distinct about the company and one that is too focused on the “whacky” side of things. Make sure it reflects the culture, work ethic and personality of your environment, but just enough for them to get a taste. You still need to be professional first. They can find out about “Man Bun Friday” and other crazy themes once they are further bought into the opportunity.
If you don’t have much experience in marketing, seek out colleagues and friends and ask for some help brainstorming, bouncing ideas around, or providing feedback on a job description you have drafted. On a final note -- it’s important to keep in mind that no matter how awesome your job posting is, it is not a silver bullet. If it brings in great people - excellent! Just don’t forget you want to hire the best person you can for a job, so don’t limit yourself with an inbound pool of candidates only if it doesn’t get you what you need.