For many startups, a strong focus on hiring is crucial. Yet, crafting well written job postings for your positions is often considered mundane and left on the back burner. We all agree a company’s employees are its greatest investment, and have a major impact on every aspect of the business. And yet many job ads come up short, inadequately targeting the people that startup companies really need. Great care must be taken to attract the right people to your company, and that starts with the job posting. Effective job postings should attract the right pool of clients, which means less work filing through tons of possibly insignificant resumes.
The only way to truly know if a job description is effective is to test numerous variations and see which ones attract the right type of candidate. In addition to testing, following some basic guidelines can help you start off on the right foot. Job postings have 3 main sections: the job title, the company description and the job description. Creating and writing these three sections effectively leads to an easier time finding the right hire.
The title is the first impression of any job posting. Not only is it important to catch the candidate’s eye, but titles play a huge role in the amount of click-through a job posting will get. In addition to drawing attention and convincing people to click, titles should also convince someone to take further action in pursuing the job. The title should be very specific to the role, describe the job’s goal and also inspire pride in the work. This should be executed in a way that fits your company’s culture. For example, Google allows some employees to come up with their own titles. While this approach might not be right for everyone, there are pros and cons to the different types of titles.
Traditional titles - such as VP of Sales or Office Manager- define the position, responsibility and hierarchy in the company. Titles like these have the benefit of keeping consistency among companies and industries. Some companies have started using more creative titles which emphasize personality and uniqueness of the position and person you desire. For example, companies might use Software Rockstar instead of Software Engineer or Director of First Impressions instead of Receptionist. These titles are catchy, but need to also be descriptive and informative. In addition, over-inflated titles can lead to confusion and resentment among your employees. The thing to keep in mind is the title needs to have meaning and reflect the company culture. Be sure to test different titles in order to ensure effectiveness in attracting the right candidate, especially if you plan on frequently hiring for this role.
After the title, it is important to describe your company in a way to encourage the right people to work there. You should appear confident about your company, using positive words and language, as well as emphasize any recognition you have received. Are you award-winning, a leader in the industry or global? Are you breaking new ground, or diving into a lot of interesting things? In addition to making your company stand out, you should emphasize why an employee would want to work there. What is unique about your company? Think about what would make someone want to leave their current job and come work for you. Mentioning company benefits would be a good start. This doesn’t have to be an exclusive list, but could include things like flexibility, job growth and development. While your description of the company should be positive, it needs to stay realistic. Providing a realistic preview leads to less employee turnover because candidates already know what to expect.
Finally, the most important aspect of the job posting is the actual job description itself. This information will help a candidate determine if he or she is the correct person for the job. The basic information to include in the job description would be the job responsibilities, realistic job preview and credentials required. Information should also be included about how frequently the employee will be interacting with others, types of supervision, and how the job relates to the rest of the company. As with the company description, it is important to keep the job description realistic. Unrealistic or overly-positive descriptions may encourage under-experienced or less-talented candidates to apply.
Being specific about the position’s tasks and responsibilities can easily weed out people who are not qualified. You should specify languages, equipment and programs that will be utilized and how familiar the candidate needs to be with them. Unclear adverbs or adjectives such as “frequently” or “on several occasions” should be avoided. In order to get a good understanding of what you’re looking for, ask people who have had or currently have that same position.
Specifying which candidates’ qualifications are non-negotiable, which are preferred, and which are only on the “wish list", allows the candidate to see where they stand. There is no need to mention the fact that you’re looking for someone with good communication skills or someone who is hardworking. You should expect any reasonable candidate to have these skills. Instead, focus on the very specific and differentiating skills you are looking for.
General Tips for creating effective Job Postings:
- Write everything in present tense
- Don’t be afraid to explain or clarify specific tasks or requirements
- Structure sentences so gender does not have to be mentioned
- Use old job postings as a reference for where to begin, especially if they attracted the right employee
- Company culture should be evident your job and company descriptions. Be sure to accurately describe your company’s values, structure and work environment
Even after crafting the perfect job description, the best way to know whether or not your job posting is working is to test it. Try different phrases, keywords and descriptions and see which ones bring in the best candidates. After the job description is complete, it is important to post the jobs in the right spot or distribute them through the correct channel. Remember, it's not about attracting a lot of candidates; it’s about attracting the best candidates for the job.
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