I stumbled upon a blog from Katrina Kibben earlier this week, What I Learned Writing 60 Job Posts in 60 Days. You should read it, too. A couple of things really jumped out for me. First, there are a lot of truly awful job postings. They’re not doing much, if anything, to attract the right kinds of candidates.
Next was Katrina’s assertion that most recruiters have never been taught how to properly write a job description. I bet she’s right. I hadn’t really thought about it much, but it’s really a specific type of writing … in much the same way that blogging differs from literary fiction which differs from technical writing. So even people who are great bloggers or competent business communicators struggle to write compelling job postings.
Now combine that with this quote, “Writing is intimidating for practitioners. One of the hardest parts about recruiting (besides the hiring part) is being expected to be good at everything. That’s not realistic. Across the board, copywriting is the one place where the fewest number of people really felt confident.” Boy, this is spot-on. Writing scares people. I see it all the time when I ask people to guest blog or need them to send a bio or prepare a session description. People don’t like to write, have a hard time getting started, don’t think they’re good writers, aren’t confident with grammar/spelling/punctuation, may not be native speakers of the language … you get the idea.
So… you have a population of people who are uncomfortable writing, doing a task for which they’ve likely not received good training, and oh-by-the-way also need to have at least a rudimentary understanding of SEO. Is it really surprising that there are so many bad job postings? More importantly, what can you do to fix it? Here are a few suggestions:
- Put the role in the title … and make sure you know the most common terms that searchers use. One example I’ve seen multiple times while researching this post is “administrative assistant” versus “office assistant”. The former is the more popular search term. There are 20,000 LESS searches EACH MONTH on the latter option. Using “office assistant” automatically causes a *huge* decrease in the number of people who see your post. Check out this post for 27 other tricks to improve your job postings.
- Consider including the physical location (address) where the employee will work. “Jobs near me” is the most popular job-related search term on Google. If you leave that off, your job won’t show up in those searches. Monster has a list of best practices that include the call-to-action as well as accessibility issues that you may be overlooking.
- Remember to sell! After the basic facts, candidates still need to be sold on your opportunity. Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself to help you create exciting copy: (1) What will candidates love about this job? and (2) Why do employees love working here? For additional tips to improve your job postings, read this.
These are basic tips, just barely enough to get you started. If you’re still struggling, ask for help. There are plenty of training opportunities at all price points. Start by looking for resources available from services you may already use, or ask your account rep for ideas. Maybe you’ll never love writing, but you can definitely get better at job postings. If you have a favorite tip, please share it in the comments!