Job Postings? We Can Do So Much Better: Chad MacRae

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Recruiters, we can and should write better job postings. Here’s where we’re going wrong and what we can do about it. Tweet it

One job post standing out from many identical ones.

Recruiters, let’s be honest about something.

Our job postings? The ones we put up on job boards, send to candidates, use to advertise our roles?

They’re horrible.

I mean …

“Responsible for duties in support of departmental efficiencies which may include …”
What an efficient way to say it.

“Offering a competitive compensation and benefits package …”
Right, that means a lot.

“Qualified applicant will have …”
More like, “Thou shalt …”

“Excellent oral and written communication skills.”
Why should I need to have it if you don’t?

Seriously though, here’s why job posts go wrong:

Job description ≠ good job posting

Wrong audience: Job descriptions are written for approval from higher-ups, the people making spending decisions, not to actually attract hires. An internal audience who doesn’t need to know what it’s like to work in that role, be part of that team, and why the company is a great place to work, is a very different audience from the one you’re trying to draw in.

Wrong writers: Hiring managers hate writing job descriptions. It’s the last thing they want to be doing. Often they try and get away with sending us descriptions that are old and grossly outdated, just to get it out of the way. And yet it’s this oeuvre we’re posting and promoting.

Wrong content: Most job descriptions are laundry lists of (one-sided, self-interested, generic) wants. They give equal weight to critical responsibilities and obscure tasks, as well as previous experience. And they do absolutely nothing to differentiate themselves from what competitors are putting out as job descriptions.

Wrong format: Job. Descriptions. Are. Way. Too. Long. Zzzzzzzzz … They’re rife with cliches (“Fast-paced”; “Problem solver”; “Initiative”) and confusing conventions (“Competitive compensation”; “X education or an equivalent level of experience”). And they’re big flat blocks of text with no photos no formatting sometimes just bullets but really what’s the point when those sentences are so long and sometimes no line breaks or paragraphs no nada just going on and on and on and on and on.

And this is what we’re using to communicate the tremendous opportunity potentially available to the smart, skilled people we want to hire? To convince them to apply? To kick our candidate experience? Yeesh.

Lots wrong. But there’s lots we can do about it:

Fix, fix, fix … attract!

Research the role: You might already have the hiring manager’s version of the job description, but go do a full intake interview with them anyway. Ask them: “Why do you enjoy working here? What makes this department, this team unique? What will the interview process look like? What are you going to look for in the candidate? What questions will you ask?” Listen to how they communicate and describe things. Listen for where they pause in their responses, and for what gets excited. Ask followup questions. If you can, go sit with the team for an afternoon; watch them work and interact together.

Rewrite: Treat that hiring manager-written job description like a requisition. It’s what they want. Now you need to write a pitch to the person that req describes. What you include is important, but so is what you leave out. Focus on the broad strokes – the important stuff. And make a conscious effort to avoid the cliches. How can you say it in a way that really means something?

Offer purpose: We – and by that I mean all human beings – want to feel like we’re part of something. Something bigger than ourselves. Meaning. A story. As luck might have it, your company has a story, with downs, ups, and challenges vanquished. Tell it.

Show, don’t just tell: Communicate important parts of the role, team, company and culture in different ways – use images, diagrams, videos.

Get help: “Dear Marketing, Your friends in Recruiting need help. See, we believe that how our company promotes jobs to prospective employees should be just as clear, enticing and original as the way it sells to prospective customers. Don’t you agree? Will you help us, with your fantastic marketing skills, to make it happen?”

Chad MacRae, Founder and Principal Recruiter at Recruiting Social

About the author

Chad MacRae is Founder and Principal Recruiter at Recruiting Social. He has 10+ years experience in the industry and recently won Top Recruiter: The Competition. Connect with Chad on Twitter @HeRecruits and on LinkedIn.

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