Write Winning Job Postings by Answering These 5 Questions

Catherine Byers Breet, a Twin Cities-based human resources consultant, speaker and trainer,  is so good at writing job postings she once found a company creatively borrowing an ad she wrote for another company. How did she know? The company that “borrowed” her posting, an IT staffing firm in Dallas, posted a job ad with the exact information Byers Breet put together for her client, but forget to remove her contact details.

So Byers Breet was getting emails and resumes for a job posting she didn’t write from a company she wasn’t hiring for.

Oops.

“I think the recruiter who posted that ad had great intentions,” says Byers Breet. “And I think those intentions were truly to attract top talent for their job opening, but recruiters and hiring managers are simply overworked. They’re doing the best they can even though it might not always look that way.”

It can be a struggle for employers, recruiters, small business owners and managers to write good job postings -it’s just not something they do on a regular basis. But how you write a job post can go a long way in determining the quality or type of candidate a company attracts (To be sure you are writing the right posts and getting the right candidates, start by reading 4 Quick Tips for Writing Job Descriptions.)

When writing an enticing job description (perhaps one so good another company may borrow it), Byers Breet focuses on language that will focus on the right/required skills versus the ‘it would be nice to have, but not completely necessary skills.’

“Ask what are the three most critical success factors – the skills, experience, acumen, that will make or break their success in this position,” says Byers Breet. “Think beyond education and years of experience. As you think about the most important things this person needs to accomplish success, what will they need in their toolbox to get that done at your company?”

Too often, hiring managers throw out a bunch of desired skills (MBA with 10 years of industry experience, for example), but they realize that those are nice to have, but not at all critical to success, says Byers Breet.

Jena Brown, an independent Twin Cities-based recruiting operations and brand strategist, listed these five key points to keep in mind for writing a good job postings

1. Have I addressed About Us and About You?

  • About us: Provide a boiler statement about your company objectives and culture.
  • About you: Provide a few characteristics outlining the successful hire for YOUR company.

2. Is my job posting pleasing to my target audience?

Does my company description, desired candidate description and job description appeal to my target candidate?

“For instance, an engineering candidate may appreciate a lengthy bulleted list of exact requirements and deliverables for a job, while a more creative candidate will glaze over and feel bored and uninspired by it,” says Brown. “A thought-leader type of position will be attracted to a different spin on the opportunity than a direct report would, so write it accordingly.”

3. Have I addressed my company EVP or the question ‘what’s in it for you?’

Says Brown: “I’m not talking about a boring list of standard benefits. While important to address, I’m talking more about what your company can offer top talent that another one can’t.  What sets you apart that would be attractive to top talent that would make them talk with you before your competitor?”

4. Is my job description engaging?  Does it spark the candidate to want to interact with your people or platforms?

  • Offer links to videos, applicable company sites, contact information to allowing candidates engage and ask questions before making the commitment to apply.
  • Offer links to your social platforms.
  • For some positions you may want to offer LinkedIn links to key employees in similar roles (Brown calls them brand champions – be sure to get their approval first).

5. Have I done a good job painting an accurate picture of the job responsibilities and bare minimum requirements versus creating a job posting nobody can fill?

Be careful not to focus on every detailed requirement – too much of a laundry list will scare even top candidates away who actually might have your unrealistic requirements.

When you finalize a job description, review it, then ask these additional questions, says Byers Breet:

What’s exciting about this position? Why should they pick this job, with you, at this company, over a comparable position at a competitor? Come up with 5 reasons why someone should pick this job over another one.

“Consider creating a job positing with broad strokes so it attracts quality candidates who could be rock stars in the job rather than someone who has been performing the job already,” says Brown. “This could also increase your talent pipeline for future roles.”

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Matt Krumrie is a career columnist and professional resume writer who has been providing helpful information and resources for job seekers and employers for 15+ years. Learn more about Krumrie via resumesbymatt.com, connect with him on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/mattkrumrie/) and follow him on Twitter via @MattKrumrie.

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