How to Optimize Your Job Ads in the New Age of Recruiting

Creating an advertisement for a job opening at your company can be a nerve-wracking experience. After all, the stakes are high when it comes to securing top talent, and competition for qualified applicants is tougher than it’s been in years.

When we asked nearly 300 employers on the ZipRecruiter platform to weigh-in on what they considered to be the most daunting aspects of writing a job ad, only 19% said there is nothing difficult about the process. The remaining 81% of employers said they struggle with deciding on the right job title, writing the job description, explaining skill requirements, and, most of all, finding a way to stand out. One-in-four said all of the above.

how to write a job ad

Thankfully smart matching technology is working to alleviate some of these pain points. But with these advances in recruiting software come a whole new set of challenges. Here are a few tips to make sure your job ads are discoverable by search engines and the latest recruiting software.

Optimizing Job Ads for Search Engines

It doesn’t matter how well your job ad works to inspire quality candidates if they never see it in the first place. Although matching technology helps with this problem by serving up job descriptions to qualified applicants, the very first step many job seekers take in their journey will likely be a basic internet search. This is why any successful job ad should be crafted according to a few search engine optimization (SEO) fundamentals.

Unfortunately, many professionals responsible for hiring at their company aren’t sure what that means. Our survey revealed that 40% of employers are unsure whether or not they are implementing SEO best practices when they create a job ad. At the same time, 29% expressed a high degree of confidence in their SEO chops, revealing that a select group of job posters have a significant competitive advantage over those who lack modern SEO skills.

how to use seo for job ads

In case you identify with the SEO-challenged among our survey group, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when crafting your job ads.

  • The job title is your most important keyword. Your primary keywords are likely the job title and location of the job—these are the words a job seeker is most likely to plug into a search engine when they set out to find you. The job title you choose should be in common usage to increase the odds that someone will actually type it into the search bar, but not so common that you will be competing with the millions of similarly titled jobs out there. This is known as optimizing for keyword difficulty. “Customer Service Representative” is probably too broad, for instance, while “Customer Experience Advocate” would likely never be used by the typical job seeker. Consider indicating your business type in the job title, e.g. “Customer Service Representative for menswear store,” etc.  This will narrow the competition from other customer service job posters and provide more detailed information to the job seeker.
  • Location, location, location. When it comes to location, you want to strike a balance similar to that with your job title. You may even want to consider including it in the title of your ad since search engines give page titles greater weight when determining relevance. You may also want to reference a variety of locations strategically throughout the ad. Cite the nearest major metropolitan area as the main location of the job, for instance, but then specify the suburb (if necessary) and other notable locations, such as a metro stop, throughout the ad.
  • Use your keywords wisely. Search engines have evolved significantly over the past decade. Now totally outdated, web developers eager to get their pages to rank used to engage in the practice of “keyword stuffing,” which consisted of repeating the keyword throughout their content ad nauseum. Search engines will now penalize you for keyword stuffing, so be sure not to repeat the job title too many times throughout the ad.

Optimizing for Intelligent Readers (Artificial and Otherwise)

It’s likely that before a job seeker reads your ad, a robot will. Artificial intelligence (AI) is being deployed in many exciting ways today, especially in the recruiting and talent acquisition (TA) spaces.

While the AI might be incredibly smart, there are still a few tactics you can employ to make it easier for an algorithm to spot your ad and share it with the right candidates. Incidentally, implementing these tips will make it more successful with the humans who read it as well.

  • Proofread. Twice. Of course this seems like a no-brainer, but it bears repeating. Grammatical and spelling errors will not only turn off some potential candidates, they also increase the risk of confusing the AI.
  • Pay attention to how your ad looks. In an effort to stand out, some job posters will try to get creative with word spacing, special characters, and by using all caps. Rather than coloring outside the lines, it’s best to avoid special characters and all caps usage for the same reason why it’s important to spell check your job ads. Besides, it’s not polite to shout.
  • Don’t neglect the company profile. Just as much as your job ad is an opportunity to tell candidates what you need, it’s also your opportunity to express who you are. People want to work for a company they believe in, which they can’t judge very well if they don’t know what you believe in. This is also a very important section for AI and matching technology, which analyzes much more than simply the skills and job requirements that applicants and job ads have in common.

As recruiting technology evolves, so too must the recruiters and hiring managers who use it. But thankfully that doesn’t mean learning a new programming language or even mastering a new software suite. Because the technology is so sophisticated at this point, it mostly means writing a clear and concise description for a job at a company where you’d love to work.

Written by

ZipRecruiter's Data Journalist, Jeffery writes about emerging job market trends using proprietary ZipRecruiter data.

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