You have about 14 seconds to grab a candidate’s attention with your job posts. But the uncomfortable truth is, many job posts are not worth a second glance.
We have never been taught how to write job postings. Honestly, most of us have never been handed a decent example.
And to help you level up your writing skills right away, here are four top tips for crafting more compelling job posts that make candidates eager to apply.
1. Have three conversations before you start writing — and go deeper than just skills and requirements
To suss out what’s really important and what’s nonessential, is important to have three key conversations to help you get to the heart of the role.
The first is with the hiring manager, that’s the one everyone talks about. But the other two are with the person who already has the job and someone who wants the job.
While starting with the hiring manager and the incumbent, in part because these conversations will help you generate referrals, the third conversation can help you learn a lot about a candidate’s motivations and interests.
Say, ‘I’m recruiting this role, but that’s not why I’m contacting you. I’m contacting you because I really want to understand the job better.’ When you approach this conversation with a little bit of vulnerability, you’d be surprised how people react.
And instead of asking what skills are required, ask what this person will do every day. What systems will they use all the time? In one year, what will make you really happy that this person has accomplished? All of a sudden, we’re taking that big list of skills and making it a story that someone can see in their own life.
2. Move away from rigid templates and toward more flexible structures
We instinctively want templates, but templates are what got us into this trouble in the first place.
Rather than using a template, build out a rough structure for your job posts — essentially saying, “This paragraph does this, and this paragraph does that.” This layout will be informed by your conversations with hiring managers, employees, and candidates.
Your three conversations will provide you with an understanding of what’s most important about the job and the structure you develop should reflect those aspects.
This method can be a little daunting at first since it involves trusting your instincts about what candidates want to hear. And while it’s more time-consuming than copy-pasting, it will yield better results.
3. Avoid clichés like go-getter and top talent because they don’t speak to the reason people change jobs
On the other end of the spectrum from the template is the overly creative job post.
While a little creativity can certainly make your job post stand out, people sometimes mistake jargon for fun language. Ultimately what happens is people think they’re being creative and they end up putting a ton of buzzwords in that mean nothing.
Banned words and phrases includes classics like rock star, ninja, and superstar, along with go-getter and top talent. The problem, is not so much the words themselves but the disconnect between the emotional response they’re intended to trigger and the way that candidates often feel.
Write words that mean something to someone who might not be in the best place in their life. They want to be a go-getter. They want to be top talent. But they might not be feeling that right now. Why waste this moment to make an impression on them with something that doesn’t actually mean anything, that might actually make them feel worse?
4. Mention important soft skills upfront to create an “I get you” connection with candidates
Instead of hunting for ninjas, try talking about soft skills in the first paragraph of your job posts. Since these skills are more closely tied to a candidate’s emotions and inner life, they can make the post feel more personal and relatable.
Spend a little more time, get a lot more qualified candidates
The extra time you spend crafting your job posts can really pay off. It may help you boost the quantity of applicants. More importantly, many have seen a steep increase in quality of hire.