When you post a job, you’re presenting your business to a wide pool of candidates for the very first time. The impression you leave is important. Well-crafted, thoughtful job posts will appeal to the very best applicants, while basic, boring posts may be ignored by all but the most desperate job seekers. And because you want the best employees, you need to start with the best applicants. That’s why it’s essential that you learn to write a great job posting for every role you need to fill.
How do you write the kind of post that attracts the best of the best? Read on.
First, what is a job posting?
Put simply, job postings are a written description of a job you plan to fill. Most include applicant requirements (which may include formal education, training, or experience), a brief description of the role, and some essential information about the company itself.
Can I dive right in?
There is a bit of prework you should do before writing your job posting. Start by:
- Firming up why you need a person in that role today.
Jot down the tasks and ongoing responsibilities you would expect a person in this role to take on.
- Thinking about the skills and experiences a person in this role would need to succeed.
Make a list of essential qualities, which may include specific certificates or years of experience in a related role and the nice-to-have qualities that could make a candidate a star performer on your team.
- Thinking through organizational fit.
Try defining some of the behavioral and personality traits that would help a person work well with you and other people they would come into contact with on a regular basis.
- Considering what would be attractive for top-tier applicants.
Write down the benefits, perks, and amenities you’ll offer, including the training and growth opportunities you’ll provide.
- Determining how much you can afford to pay.
Study your financial statements to assess your available cash and decide how much of that you’re willing to devote to someone who can take some business-critical tasks off your plate.
Pro tip: Be sure to research what your competitors and others looking for similar candidates are paying their employees. This will help you ensure that your compensation offering aligns with or exceeds others in the market.
When these topics are addressed, you can begin crafting your job description.
Where should I start?
Start with your job title. Your title should help applicants understand the precise role you are trying to fill.
Clarity is essential. Avoid using over-important phrases and cliches that may confuse your pool of potential applicants or, worse, keep your job posting from showing up in their search results. At the same time, avoid overly simplistic descriptors (such as “engineer”) that require more clarification.
Pro tip: You’ll find that many applicants apply based on the title of your posting alone. Ensure that the title helps you tell the story of who you are looking for and the skills they should possess to be considered for the role.
What about the body?
The body is the bulk of your job post. Here, you’ll provide an overview of the job, explain the job responsibilities, share applicant requirements, state your compensation and benefits, and offer instructions for applying. The challenge: accomplishing all these goals in 500-700 words or less.
Starting with the job overview, try writing two or three paragraphs that describe the business and how the role fits within it. This isn’t the place to list the responsibilities the successful applicant will take on. Instead, think of it as a marketing pitch to candidates to get them excited about the organization’s mission and culture, the role, opportunities for growth, perks, or other attractive parts of your business.
Pro tip: Try speaking directly to the candidate by using the word “you” instead of “the right candidate” in this paragraph, and incorporate words that help them understand the importance of the role.
The compensation and benefits information should come next; this will help you earn the interest of post viewers and ensure that they read the description that follows. How you handle this section is up to you. You may state the specific salary or wage the position will pay, a pay range, or offer a vague statement indicating that pay will be in line with industry standards and candidate experience. You should also describe the benefits and perks you offer your employees, including health, vision, or dental insurance benefits, education reimbursement, or retirement plan matching.
Pro tip: Applicants prefer to know what the job will pay. You may waste their time—and your own—by proceeding through the process with candidates you can’t afford.
Next, you’ll explain the job responsibilities. This section usually works best as a brief, bulleted list. Try to limit your list to five or six key responsibilities that cover the bulk of the work the person in this role will take on and, if possible, use present-tense action verbs when describing each item.
Then, you’ll cover applicant requirements. As with job responsibilities, this section tends to be most effective with bulleted points.
Pro tip: Many HR experts advise managers to divide this portion into two sections, one covering “required skills,” which may include necessary abilities, knowledge, or experiences for a candidate to succeed in the role, and “preferred skills,” which may define several additional nice-to-have qualities that you believe will be predictors of success. These lists can help candidates determine if they’re the right fit for the role or if they should move on to other postings.
Finally, you’ll describe the steps interested applicants should take to be considered for the role. Try to limit this section to two or three sentences that inform readers whether to complete an application or submit a resume and/or cover letter and whether they should email it to you or a recruiter or mail it to your business address.
What can I do to improve my posting?
The following tips can help you write a great job posting:
- Consider your posting to be a marketing piece for prospective employees: Get them excited about the opportunity and avoid bombarding them with tedious descriptions of daily work requirements. You may look for ways to add creative, memorable details about the mission, culture, opportunity, or environment in which they’ll work.
- Use clear, compelling language and a friendly, welcoming tone.
- Avoid jargon, acronyms, and terms that may be unfamiliar to applicants interested in making a transition from another industry.
- Make sure that your posting is free from spelling and grammar errors.
- Share your post with other professionals to ask for feedback.
Where should I list my job posting?
There are lots of great options. These include:
- Regional or national job boards
- Staffing agencies
- Your company’s career page
- Your company’s social media pages
- The career pages of any association or accrediting body you’re affiliated with
- Local college and trade school job boards
- Community social media pages
Be sure to choose posting platforms that will be visited most often by your pool of applicants.
This seems like a lot of work. Is this really worth my time to write a great job posting?
It may take you an hour or more to write a great job posting, but that time is a worthwhile investment. When you write a great job posting, several things will happen:
- You may receive fewer applications as candidates self-select out of the application process when they realize they may be lacking some of the requirements that are critical for success
- You’ll likely attain higher quality applications from candidates who believe they can succeed in a role
- You can improve your retention rates because successful candidates will know what is required of them in their daily duties
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