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How to write a job posting

What are job postings?

Job postings are important for any company wanting to attract the best talent. A job posting is also referred to as a job announcement, job listing, job advertisement or want ad.

  • Job postings versus job descriptions: Job postings should not be confused with job descriptions. Job postings should be written to attract a potential candidate to a job at a particular company. They are meant to be high-level overviews to sell your company and the job to the right applicant. Job descriptions go into more detail than job posts; they outline more specific job responsibilities, daily tasks, performance expectations and reporting structures.

How do I write a great job posting?

Writing a great job posting takes careful planning and research. In order to write effective job postings and attract quality candidates, here are some best practices to consider, along with some tips on writing quality job listings for all types of jobs.

  • Make sure the job title is clear and searchable. Use a job title that is common within your industry so it comes up in the search results of a job seeker. Even if your company refers to job titles differently internally, that is something that can be discussed with the applicant in the job interview. Also, make sure the title indicates the job level and whether the position is the role of manager, director, senior, junior, etc.
  • Use terms that are familiar to the industry for which you’re hiring. Like the job title, the wording in the job posting should reflect the standard in the industry or other similar companies. Again, even if you refer to job descriptions or job responsibilities differently at your company, you want to make sure your job posting easily comes up in a search by interested potential candidates.
  • Sell the company. A great company attracts great candidates – and that means a bigger pool of applications to choose from. Provide a short list of basic facts about the company, such as type of industry, company location, number of employees and years in business. In addition, give candidates a sense of what it’s like to work there by highlighting your company culture. What are the people like? What kind of work environment is it? Is it laid back and fun or strictly professional? Are there team-building activities or other employee events? It’s important to communicate the benefits of working for a company in order to attract top talent.
  • Sell the job position: This is the opportunity to give a laundry list of what the job entails and some reasons why a job seeker would want the position. Are there job benefits like medical insurance, profit sharing or a 401(k)? What are some of the job perks? Is it in a desired location, or is it remote work? What makes this job position stand out from other postings? Get job seekers excited about becoming an employee at your company by touting the benefits of the position.
  • List the requirements for the position. While you may have a wish list of your perfect candidate for a job, try to divide that list into attributes they must have and those that it would be nice for them to have. For instance, you may require that a potential candidate be proficient in a certain job technology, but experience in a particular software program your company uses could be a plus, but not mandatory for the job. Will the candidate’s role be as a self-starter, or will he or she manage a team? Will the job position require an academic degree or license, or will you consider industry experience as an alternative to schooling? Being as specific as you can in the job posting will help weed out unqualified applicants.
  • Outline what you need from the job candidate. What will also help separate the qualified candidates from the not-so-qualified ones is to provide information on how you want them to respond to the job posting. What do you want to know about the potential candidate before being considered for an interview? Do you want to know how many years of experience they have or what their previous role was? Would you like to see samples of their work, such as a writing or design portfolio, computer programming samples or a list of their professional certifications and licenses? What personality traits are you looking for? You could also ask them to provide specific information in their cover letter, such as “What were your sales numbers for last year?” or “What is an example of a project you oversaw to completion?” Those job seekers who comply with your requests will be more likely to snag that job interview.
  • Make the posting easy to read. If you’re including a lot of information in your job post, consider using bullet points and short paragraphs. Consolidating too much information into one big paragraph can be confusing and may turn off a potential applicant. Don’t use a lot of flowery language or adjectives – just stick to the facts. And as mentioned above, avoid using any terminology that may be exclusive to your company and not understood by the job seeker.
  • Be specific in the application process. What do applicants need to do to apply for the position? Do they need to provide a resume and cover letter? Who should they direct their application to, a hiring manager or HR professional? What is the timeline for hiring, and if an applicant is being considered, how should he or she expect to be contacted? As much as companies appreciate respectful candidates, candidates also appreciate knowing the details of the hiring process.

What should I avoid in a job posting?

While there is a laundry list of things that should be included in a job ad, there are also some areas that someone writing a job post should avoid or at least take care in the words they choose.

  • Don’t write a job posting to your perfect candidate. It’s rare that a candidate ticks off every single box when it comes to any job description. If you include unrealistic job responsibilities, experience or skills for a position, you may scare away people who may actually be a good fit for the job. This goes back to being specific about the qualities you must have in an employee and those that would be a plus to have. If you have too many specific job requirements in your job post, you will get fewer job applications. By being a little less stringent, you may even find that a candidate brings a skill or talent to the table that you hadn’t even considered being a benefit to the job!
  • Don’t discriminate in a job post. It’s important to include an equal opportunity disclaimer in your job post, but also take care in your wording of job responsibilities and qualities to ensure there is no unconscious or implied bias. For instance, use the term “salesperson” versus “salesman,” and avoid using words like “seasoned” or “young.” Your job posting should be directed to an applicant, not to someone of a certain gender, race, religion or age.
  • Avoid negativity and mystery. Don’t talk about the types of applicants you won’t consider or “need not apply.” You’re better off indicating the requirements to be considered rather than listing those that exclude an applicant. And make sure you’re being clear and concise with the job responsibilities, requirements and expectations versus being so vague that the job seeker isn’t really even sure what you’re looking for. On the other hand, being too company-specific or using terminology that isn’t common outside of the organization may confuse or turn off applications to the position.

Before Posting Job Ad

  • Check out other job postings. Before you even start writing a job posting, check out job sites or job boards for similar positions. See what other companies include and the way they construct their job ads. Look for a pattern of keywords, phrases and terms, and utilize those as they apply to your job opportunity.
  • Consider using a template. There are quite a few job posting templates out there that can help you write a job posting. Consider using a job posting template, especially if you are writing multiple job ads.
  • Review and proofread. It’s important to make sure your job post content is grammatically correct with no spelling errors. Proofreading each job posting is extremely important. Try to have multiple people review the job advertisement before you post the position on a job site or job board. Writing a job posting is sometimes a team effort rather than the work of just one person.

A great job posting can make the difference between attracting quality candidates and having to sift through piles of unqualified applicants. Taking the time to write effective job postings will go a long way toward hiring the right people for the job. Need more guidance for your hiring process? Contact our HR experts.

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