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Today's Question: The fastest way to lose a prospective candidate's interest is to plop a list of job requirements into their lap. As far as employer branding goes, a job ad like that is basically a death wish.
But if that doesn't work, what does? We asked the experts to share their tips and tricks for crafting job posts that actually engage candidates instead of driving them away.
1. Don't Recycle Last Year's Post
Simply repurposing the existing post from last year may not be sufficient as a number of items may have changed. It may no longer reflect the current company or role. Beyond the typical elements of a job description (purpose, primary duties, and requirements), it's important to detail the factors that are likely to attract candidates, including:
- Competencies: Define the strategic initiatives of the company and the competencies needed to drive those initiatives forward.
- Culture: Outline the company's culture and work environment so candidates get a good feel for whether or not they will fit in.
- Values: Include the company's values and mission so candidates have a good understanding of the company.
Painting a clear picture of this information will allow candidates to assess initial fit and weed themselves out if the company information does not line up with what they are looking for.
— Trevor Shylock, Caliper
2. Don't Confuse Job Advertisements With Job Specifications
Many people seem to be confused between a "job advertisement" and a "job specification." They seem to copy and paste whole specifications into their advertisements. Unfortunately, although this makes for a factual job ad, it's not great for employer branding. You need to be able to educate the candidate about what the role requires while selling your company to them at the same time.
Make sure that you include information about the culture of your company in your job advertisement – and not just the benefits. Quality candidates are interested in career growth and the environment they will be working in; they're not as interested in whether or not you have a ping pong table.
Take the time to review your job ad with someone who works at your company. A second pair of eyes is invaluable. If you're advertising for a software engineer, then who better to ask if your ad is appealing than one who already works for you?
— Sam Cameron, allude.to
3. Err on the Side of Detail
The strategy for writing a perfect job description will change depending on the nature of the job you are describing. If the job is for a recurring task that you are currently handling yourself, document your actions for a week or two. Write down everything you do relating to the task and take screenshots and videos of what is happening on your computer. From this outline, a job description will start to emerge.
If this is a one-time, product-oriented task – like the creation of a logo or marketing materials – start by creating priorities. What do you want to have in your hand when the job ends? When do you need it? What do you want it to look like or what purpose do you want it to serve?
Don't worry about being long-winded in your job description. It's better to have too much detail than not enough.
— Simon Slade, SaleHoo
4. Ask a Question
If you're hiring for lower-level positions that might attract a lot of applicants, then ask a question in your job posting that will help you eliminate many of the unsuitable candidates. Make the question mandatory, and ask the =applicants to write their answers at the top of their applications.
First, this lets you know who reads and follows instructions well. Second, the applicants' answers to the question can give you a lot of insight into them without having to read through a lot of applications up front.
— Louise Hendon, Paleo Flourish Magazine
5. Think About the Job Title
Although titles can be meaningless, they affect the way a job is advertised, pulled up in search engines, and perceived by applicants. Having a title that is too specific may prevent your job from appearing in search queries. Alternatively, a generic title that doesn't indicate any experience level or department can attract unqualified candidates. Overall, you should aim for a title that highlights the seniority level of the applicant you are looking for and the department the employee will be working the most in.
— PJ Ogden, Betts Recruiting
6. Where You Post Your Ad Matters
Interestingly enough, it is becoming more about where you post your job ads than what you write in them. If you want high-quality candidates, it's highly unlikely you'll find them on the job boards – unless they just happened to be in need.
Your job posts should be posted where they'll be read by industry experts and/or the type of people you want to attract. Does your company have an industry blog? If not, it's time to start. When you have needs, you have an article or articles written on company success and growth – and then mention that you are in need of experts because of that success and growth.
— James Kemper, W.H. Meanor ">
In recent years, we've seen a trend in applicants pursuing jobs at mission-driven organizations and taking charge of their careers by asking tough questions about ownership and autonomy at work. To court these prospective employees, we recommend emphasizing the impact of your company and framing your job pitch in terms of your company values.
Be sure to include a section in your job ad outlining the core beliefs that motivate your company. Include a compelling explanation of how your company and its products make a positive impact in the world. Be sure to emphasize any perks that your company prides itself on – including helping employees become autonomous owners of their work. Job seekers will be drawn to the fact that you exhibit passion for your work and a willingness to promote based on autonomy, impact, and performance.
8. Show, Don't Tell
At YNAB, we spend a lot of time on job posts that jump off the page. We are courting you, our potential job candidates and perhaps even customers, and we aren't going to take anything for granted. We are going to give you the
best that we've got.
It helps that we have an awesome product that is changing people's lives, great benefits, and a culture we love and believe in.
Our job posts are an opportunity to show, not tell. Wondering who we are we and why you might want to work for us? We will paint a picture – and in our brand voice, no less – becuase it's who we are in real life.
— Chance Gurr, You Need a Budget