Advice for writing job postings is available across the Internet, from sources such as Inc. and Monster to a twelve-step process on WikiHow, complete with samples and a how-to video. While these articles assist in offering practical information, they often lack details needed to pen an effective and successful job posting advertisement.
Most help wanted ads follow a formula, which is a good place to begin. Entrepreneur, for instance, states that you should begin by writing a job description as a guideline. You should list skills and conditions to attract qualified candidates while discouraging others, but don’t mention personality traits, or candidates may mimic them to get hired. The article also recommends including the salary, what to expect from the company and position, and how the candidate can apply for the role.
However, we all know that writing an effective job description is not easy. There are other aspects that are missing from this straightforward approach.
Express Your Company Culture
Shibani Peterson, Senior Project Lead at Argosight, which provides intelligent talent acquisition solutions for high-growth organizations, summarizes what’s lacking in two words: corporate culture. She states that companies need to find a way to stand out from the competition in the pursuit of top candidates.
Writing effective job descriptions to attract new hires is becoming more of a marketing focus. HR professionals should use the job description as a means to express what the organization does and its values and core competencies. Brendan McCartin, a Senior Project Lead with Argosight, says, “Sell the company. What are the positives of working here? Tailor the ad so that it is attractive to the candidates you want to hire.”
It is essential that you know the type of person who would be a perfect fit, not only in regards to skills, but also within the culture, and then design the job description for that ideal candidate. For instance, McCartin states that “Engineering candidates want cutting-edge technology, so if your company offers that, say so in the job description.” Different perquisites will appeal to different roles.
Peterson adds that some benefits of company culture span specific roles. One such perk is the ability to work remotely or a company that is flexible with days or hours. The nine-to-five workday is becoming a thing of the past, and candidates – millennials in particular – are seeking that out in their job hunt. “Flexibility is a big component nowadays,” Peterson states, “so it’s important to convey that in a job description if it is offered.”
However, some companies, such as TimeHop, have tried a forced work-from-home experiment, resulting in a perceived failure.
More Than Words
For a job posting to effectively draw the right candidates, you need to go beyond the words themselves. “Consider starting with a catchy first-liner… to pique the interest of candidates,” suggests Peterson. “Catch the reader’s eye and make it stand out from other job postings.”
One San Diego tech company chose to use vulgarity in their Craiglist job ad headline to grab the attention of readers. While it’s uncertain whether the ad attracted any qualified candidates, it definitely got many people talking about the effectiveness of such a route.
For a start-up with a laid-back culture, a job description could include humor, slang, and casual language. Laura Hong wrote on SmartRecruiter’s blog about creative recruiting techniques, which included challenging candidates with problem-solving tasks within the ad itself. For instance, McKinsey & Company hung posters with tearable strips requesting that interested candidates call; however, the phone number was represented as an algebraic formula. Electronic Arts (EA) placed a help-wanted billboard written in ASCII code to attract new programmers to the gaming development company.
Many companies, such as Google and Apple, produce videos that underscore their culture. These company culture videos can be used in conjunction with hiring tools or as a stand-alone resource for those interested in applying.
Zappos has gone the complete opposite route with hiring. Instead of fixing a broken job description process, they have deleted job postings all together. Stacy Zapar, candidate experience and engagement strategist for the company, has referred to traditional job ads as “a dead-end road,” “one-way conversations,” and “a recruiting black hole.” Instead, Zappos uses a candidate portal, called Zappos Insider, to encourage networking and conversation between candidates and current employees to fill the talent pipeline with individuals who are skilled, fit the culture, and make the effort to stay involved.
In every step of the process, writing a successful job posting requires a constant focus on the ideal candidate. When done effectively, your applicants will have an understanding not only of their duties and role within the organization, but will also know about the company itself, including its culture and employees.
For more help writing a successful job posting ad, read Evolution of Job Ads (and How to Make Sure Yours is Effective) for tips on what to include in an ad, where to place your ad, and when the best time to post is, as well as advice on actively seeking candidates.
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