Learning & Development, Recruiting

How to Make a Job Posting Stand Out

In today’s jobseeker market, recruiting is more competitive than ever. With more openings and fewer applicants, it’s important to secure talent as quickly as possible. According to an Ipsos survey, there are 5.2 million fewer people working today, with 7% of workers actively looking for a new job.

The first step to attracting skilled workers is to catch their attention in a job posting. The average person sees over 3,000 messages in a single day, so how can your post stand out? We spoke with Katrina Kibben, Founder and CEO of Three Ears Media, to learn how to make a job posting shine.

Hiring Manager Intake

While the intricate details of a job posting can make all the difference, recruiters always need to begin with hiring manager intake. Recruiting teams should meet with hiring managers to understand what the company is looking for. The conversation should be focused on the specific traits, skills, and experiences managers are seeking in a new hire.

Recruiters should make standard intake questions more specific. For example, change “How can we ‘sell’ your job to candidates in a job post?” to “What’s special about this team as compared with other teams you’ve worked on?” The goal of these questions is to find the qualities that will make candidates thrive in a role.

“Questions inspire imagination,” Kibben says. “You should be picturing people when the question is over, not a list.”

Recruiters can record intake conversations for later reference. In transcribing the conversation, you’ll be able to capture what hiring managers are looking for in their own voices. You can include direct quotes from managers, or you can highlight recurring traits, themes, or adjectives to identify exactly what’s needed from a candidate.

What’s in a Job Posting?

A good job post has four parts:

1. The job pitch, which details everyday activities and minimum requirements;

2. About the company, which explains the company’s background and is usually styled like a press release;

3. Skill story, which details the impact of work and skills necessary for the job; and

4. Any legal information, such as a note saying the company abides by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The Details of a Job Posting

In the social media age, people’s attention spans are short—most dedicate an average of 3 minutes and 5 seconds on a single task before being interrupted or distracted. Recruiters can best hook candidates by accommodating people’s ability to focus.

Two hundred and fifty words, or the average length of a social media post, is the perfect size for a job listing. A job posting, which people go out of their way to read, should be concise and interesting. Recruiters should opt for bullets rather than dense text and should limit a bulleted list to about 7 points, or 1/3 of the overall visual. Men are likely to apply to a job if they meet 60% of listed criteria, whereas women apply if they are 80% or more qualified based on said list. The longer a job application is, the more likely it is to deter women from applying.

When looking for talent, recruiters should focus on experiences rather than clichés. Far too often, applicants find posting rife with buzzwords like:

  • Top talent
  • Ninja
  • Fast-paced company
  • Rockstar
  • Start-up vibe
  • We’re like a family
  • Employer of choice
  • Winning team
  • Employees are our greatest asset
  • Self-starter
  • Work hard, play hard

“These words do not have universal meaning,” Kibben says. “‘Being collaborative’ at Three Ears Media and ‘being collaborative’ at Disney are two different experiences. We need to use buzzwords in the context of experiences that make them true.”

They explain that to achieve universal understanding, job descriptions must base qualities and skills on experiences. For instance, instead of saying “be collaborative,” write, “Our most collaborative team members do X.” A candidate will have a better understanding of whether he or she meets a criterion when it’s grounded in an example.

Recruiters should include mandatory requirements that are truly necessary. “Mandatory means you could not under any circumstances figure out how to do something if you have not done this before,” Kibben adds. Anything else that is helpful but not essential to a job’s duties is not considered a mandatory skill or experience.

Takeaway for Recruiters

Last year alone, there were over 99 million jobs posted. In such a competitive market, a job posting is the first and most essential key in recruiting talent. With the right format, language, and detail, recruiters can set their companies up for success at the very start of the hiring process.

“Hiring is always hard, no matter what,” Kibben admits. “But the one variable we can control in that very challenging matrix of getting the right person in is how we ask about people. Job postings are the currency of that ask.”

For more advice on how to write job posts, check out our on-demand master class.