The typical job posting follows a similar pattern. Title, description, requirements, and a yawn for good measure. Job ads have their own job to do, but they have more versatility than you might realize. If they aren't optimized for multifaceted performance, they'll miss the target more often than not. And the reasons might surprise you.
You need the essential elements. But think of them as the framework, not the complete design. And maybe ditch some redundant or annoying job ad parts and pieces altogether. Laurie Ruettimann writes for The College Board Review, "Think more creatively, and you will attract the best and brightest talent to your organization."
And that's the real heart of the matter. Creativity is what helps you create the best job posting possible. But much more than that, it lets you get more talent acquisition mileage than an ordinary block of text.
The line between a terrific ad and a great hire isn't as direct as it seems on the surface. There's a lot going on underneath.
A Job Posting is a Conversion Tool
Recruiting is quite like sales. You've got your own funnel that's filled with candidates. And also like sales, the key to converting the best prospects is attracting more of the best from the outset.
A pivotal key to any ad is knowing your audience, says RecruitLoop. Who do you want to apply? Think in terms of people, not qualifications. Where do those people spend time online? How do they communicate?
"Your job ad needs to speak directly to them. Otherwise, you seriously may as well roam the streets like a 19th Century town crier calling out to every man and his dog in the hope that someone hears you." - RecruitLoop
Job ads are targeted sales messages that speak directly to the person you want to hire. They use language that resonates with them. They encourage conversion. And that's exactly the opposite of how many job ads read.
Done well, they attract more of the right applicants, limit unqualified candidates and hold attention all the way through the funnel.
Great Job Postings Share Certain Elements
The most creative and effective job postings have a few things in common. Of course, you should convey the specifics. But there's a lot of room, even in a short ad, for optimization.
It's not what you say, it's how you say it. Here are some highlights from RecruitLoop:
- Attention-grabbing job title. Avoid the overused ninja, superstar, and guru language.
- Clarity in the job description. Leverage the sales technique of speaking in terms of job benefits instead of job features.
- Specific requirements. If it's required, it should be in the job description. However, if it's not required, don't ask. Pie-in-the-sky requirements make the ad seem unapproachable.
- Get real. If you're hiring an ordinary entry-level role, don't represent it as the best job on Earth.
- Weave in your brand. Applicants want to know the company. But keep it light.
- Provide contact information. We get it. Considering the possible deluge of unqualified applicants, many employers withhold as much info as possible. But with a great ad, you'll have fewer non-starters.
- Use conversational language aimed at the reader. If you're tempted to say, "The best candidate shall possess . . .," you're already off on the wrong foot.
That's a lot to chew on. But every aspect of every job posting serves a purpose. When you dissect an ad and consider what each aspect does, you'll find plenty of ways to improve.
Writing Skills Honestly Matter
Who is in charge of writing your job postings? If it's whoever has a spare minute, then it's time to regroup. If it's whoever had a spare minute five years ago, you're behind the 8-ball. Writing skills matter in a job posting because every word counts.
"Those awful descriptions are really watered-down job-classification documents with no call to action, no compensation data, and no shortage of legalese meant to indemnify a corporation from potential lawsuits. Worse, your friendly neighborhood HR generalist undoubtedly has a three-ring binder of these descriptions, the text of which often dates back to the Carter administration." - Laurie Ruettimann, The Conference Board Review
Engagement is part of the talent acquisition revolution. Think of your job ads as content. When candidates are at the thinking stage, they're scanning for something that stands out. That's what LinkedIn says. Take a look at your competition. Chances are, you'll see an adequate supply of uninspiring ads that do nothing to draw in great applicants.
And what was that about a call to action? Every high-performance piece of content that you read has a CTA. It's what takes a reader from reading to taking action. In a job ad, it's the gateway to applying. "Apply now" might cut it. But a great writer can engage the reader and make the CTA feel seamless.
Writing matters because good writing engages the audience. Be snappy, be direct, speak directly to the candidate, don't fib, and always include a CTA.
If excellent writing chops don't exist in the immediate talent acquisition circle, expand your horizons and bring in a great writer. Remember, if your job posting asks for excellence, candidates probably expect it in return.
The law of attraction applies throughout the talent acquisition industry. Like attracts like. Greatness attracts greatness. When a good job ad goes bad, you can expect pear-shaped returns. But conversely, great things come from a well-crafted ad.
Job postings aren't merely a means to an end, nor are they a necessary evil. They're an important sales tool.
Your ads have the power to attract the highest quality candidates into the talent acquisition funnel. But they also have the power to drive them away. And you hold both options in your hands.