Tips for Writing Clear and Meaningful Job Postings

By Cheryl Stein
Monster Business Coach

Writing a job posting seems like something that should be straightforward and fairly easy. Describe the position, state the qualifications and salary expectations and you are done right?

While this statement is somewhat true, it isn’t the whole story if you really want to attract the best candidates. Achieving that goal is another thing entirely. To attract the best candidates, you almost have to think of your job posting as an entrance test to a competition. You want to compete against all the other job postings out there that may be enticing to your ideal job candidate. Monster’s own Samantha Harris, Lead Canadian Client Trainer gives the following essential tips to write the best job posting to get the best results.

Timing Is Everything

Most companies make the assumption that they should post their job openings on Friday afternoon just before closing time. They make this assumption because they believe that job seekers are looking for employment on the weekends. “That is not the case.” Says Samantha. “In fact, the highest traffic is seen between Monday and Wednesday, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.” People do not want to search for jobs on the weekend. They want to have fun on the weekend. They are typically looking for work, during the hours of work.

Think Like a Job Seeker

“The first thing that you need to be doing,” says Harris “is thinking like your job seeker”. That means identifying who the ideal candidate is, and targeting your search to attract that job seeker. Ask yourself questions like:

“Who is the person that I am looking for?”
“Where is this person spending their time?”
“How does this person speak?”

By identifying the typical personality traits of your job candidate, you may be able to target your search to reach those people where they are spending their time and speak to them in a way that captures their attention.

Identify Your Star Employees

Who are the star employees in your company? Harris says that figuring out what you like about the people who are already doing a great job for you will help you know a great candidate when you see one. These qualities should be added to your description so people can identify if they will be the right fit for you.

Do a little Renovation on your descriptions

Forget about writing those dull job postings that everyone falls asleep reading. Write one that speaks directly to the candidate. That means using their language. That also means speaking to them in the first person as if you already know them. Get excited about your company and share that excitement with your potential employees. Speak about the culture, and what is important to you and your organization. Use plain language that really describes your company instead of idioms that say nothing.

Think of it like a university lecture. The professor that got the best students in his or her class was the one who was animated and interesting. The dull lecturer got students who either fell asleep or did the crossword puzzle in the back of the class.

Be engaging and you will engage the best candidate.

Where Should You Start?

“The over stretched H.R. department is reactive, not proactive,” says Harris. In other words, it is often just too hard for H.R. to invest any time or energy into revamping the way that job descriptions are written. They just keep cranking out the same old postings in the same old format because it is just easier that way. She suggests that if you have limited time and energy to redo the way you post your jobs, then focus on the job description with the highest turnover rate and the job description for the position that is hardest to fill. These are the positions that are costing your company the most money and are therefore most worth the investment of time that it will take to do a rewrite.

Employers in Glass Houses

Think about the worst resumes that you have had to read. Typically they are long, boring, have too much information and have spelling mistakes. You would never consider a candidate who had a resume like that right? Well why would the best candidate choose your company if you have a long, boring, and wordy job posting with spelling mistakes in it. Hold yourselves to the same standards that you hold your applicants. If not, then change your standards. Try to remember that you want the information to catch people’s eyes.

Don’t State the Obvious

One of Harris’ favorite faux pas is the statement of the obvious. “If you are posting a job for a corporate trainer, the last thing you need to say is ‘must be comfortable in front of large groups’ or ‘must have good communication skills”. The fact that a person is a corporate trainer by profession means that almost all of the work that they do is in front of large groups. These repetitions of common sense pieces of information take attention away from saying what the job is really about.

Speak the Truth

“Have you ever heard anyone say that they aren’t good at working in teams?” asks Harris. Truthfully, she says, a good job description will avoid saying those dull generic things like, “must be good at working in a team”. All jobs require a certain degree of teamwork so why do companies take up precious space with things that won’t differentiate them from their competition. Harris suggests using the space to talk about the real challenges that a candidate will face in the role. She says, “If you are advertising a job opening that will require the employee to answer 150 phone calls a day, say something like, ‘must be able to handle high volume of phone calls’. That way the job seeker has a better understanding for what will be expected.” People generally want to know what the job will really be about. If you provide them with accurate information, you are way more likely to get accurate applications.