Your Job Posting Sucks
Somewhere along the line, employers forgot that hiring is a two-way street. At least, that’s what it seems like based on most of the job postings I read. Yes, I always read job postings all the way through, and most of them do a terrible job of explaining the role or making the company seem even remotely appealing.
I’ve been a hiring manager. I’ve written countless job descriptions. I’ve been there. But more often, I’m on the other side searching.
Just as hiring managers are looking for reasons to sort lackluster resumes into the slush pile, it’s important not to forget that applying for jobs is hard work. As much as putting together and getting approval for job postings feels like extra paperwork on top of your normal responsibilities, responding to those postings is more time consuming, degrading, and vulnerable. For that reason, we candidates are also looking for reasons to not spend upwards of half an hour applying to your job posting — especially knowing it is likely to be met with zero feedback.
As quickly as you can breeze by resumes in your inbox, it’s just as easy for me, a fantastic candidate, to scroll past your job posting.
So, why aren’t you trying harder to get me?
Now that most of the world has shut down and, seemingly overnight, millions of people are looking for work and the applicant pool has grown exponentially, it’s more important than ever to start proactively attract the best fit.
1. Get Your Seniority Straight
Most postings contain conflicting information on the experience level for which they’re hiring. I often catch posting’s job details listing “Associate” or “Entry Level” under seniority level but then require at least 5–7 years of experience under qualifications. When I see this, I assume you want a mid-senior level skillset, but only want to pay an associate’s wage. Hard pass!
Maybe I’m cynical, and it’s merely a clerical error. But even then, what a silly mistake that could cost you a great candidate with confusing inattention to detail.
Make sure you’re clear about what level of experience you’re looking for, and that the title, seniority level, and compensation accurately and fairly reflect your needs.
2. Distill The Responsibilities
I love using bullets as a means of communication, but after about 10 I lose interest. More is not more when it comes to laundry listing every possible scenario that this role could touch. This attempt at clarity usually has the opposite effect, leaving me confused and potentially turned off from the job feeling triggered about a past role that demanded too much.
Too often I am forced to scroll several times to sift through a CVS receipt of daily tasks to evaluate if this something I can and want to do. Yes, I’m also deciding if I WANT to do this job.
It’s especially frustrating when employers bury the lede on the actual role and responsibilities. Oh, you’re not just looking for a copywriter, you want a social media community manager and an email marketer (very different skill sets!) This isn’t actually a creative position; it’s sales. You’ve lost me once I realize you’re trying to quilt three jobs into one.
If you want a specialist, cherry-pick the 8–10 most pertinent and appealing tasks and leadership opportunities. Leave out the extraneous responsibilities that are a given with any professional position. You don’t need to take up precious space specifying that this role should be able to “complete projects in a timely manner,” or “work well with other team members and departments.”
And, if you really want or need a hybrid unicorn of an employee who will need to wear every single hat in the closet, just be upfront about the expectations.
3. Be Realistic With Qualifications
That said, this isn’t a rousing round of Mystery Date; you’re looking for a real human employee. Don’t expect any candidate to be an expert or even proficient in every way you’d like. There is such a thing as learning on the job. Be better at attracting candidates who are 60% of what you need right now, with 100% potential to grow into the skillset you want.
Stay realistic about what you need or want in a candidate, and keep it short. Building out another laundry list of requirements, experience, certifications, and program expertise doesn’t actually ensure only the best people will apply. In fact, much like going overboard on the responsibilities, it can actually perpetuate the opposite. It’s intimidating!
“Oh, well we don’t expect everyone to have all these qualities. It’s just what we’d like.”
Then why didn’t you say so! Write a concise section for absolute requirements that without, a candidate would be considered ineligible, and then create another shortlist of “nice to haves.” You’ll catch more flies with reasonable expectations.
4. Avoid Bringing Baggage Into The Relationship
Crafting a job description can be exciting, a new clean slate. It’s a chance to bring in someone with a new perspective without bad habits. I understand that desire, but please don’t let your internal department or team baggage show in the job description. Stay away from qualifications like, “Don’t apply if you can’t take criticism.” Likewise, don’t emphasize, “Must be able to work under pressure and be ok with late nights.”
Yikes! Get me off the hot mess express.
If you find it difficult to write a job posting without including passive-aggressive digs at your current or past team members, consider taking a beat to reevaluate your company or department culture. Just like adopting a puppy won’t prevent a breakup, bringing in a shiny new hire won’t solve systemic or personal dynamic issues.
5. Show Me You Like Where You Work
Do you like your company? Do you know what you do? Sometimes I wonder when I’m reading a company description on job postings. That is if it’s even included at all. It should be the first thing I read, and the most compelling. Sell me your Koolaid!
So often, I read a company’s description and still have no idea what it does because the objectives are buried beneath a mountain of vague industry jargon like, “innovate, ideate, create and inspire.” HUH? Even more disappointing is when there is nothing innovative, creative, or inspiring about how they’re positioning the company as a place to work.
Be clear about what you actually do, first and foremost. Tell me about how supportive your company culture is. Introduce me to some of the talent from whom I will be learning. Sell me on real benefits like health insurance and remote working, and not the cold brew and beer on tap. I’m looking for a place to grow my career, not a coffee shop or a frat house.
6. Don’t Let Postings Go Stale
Look, I get that unless you have a dedicated recruitment position or team, job postings become the responsibility of the hiring manager or team, and that’s a lot of extra work. But, please don’t set and forget about job postings. Especially in this economic climate, there are real people on the other end who are looking at and getting excited about applying to jobs they need. There’s nothing more confusing or disheartening than seeing that a job was posted two months ago. If I see that a job I’m excited about was posted several months ago, I think one of three things:
- The position has been filled.
- The hiring team doesn’t know what they’re looking for if they haven’t found it yet, and most likely won’t find it in me.
- The open role isn’t super necessary and everyone keeps forgetting about filling it.
Then, I decide not to waste my time with an application.
If the position has been filled, take it down. If the job posting expired after two months with no success, don’t just renew it. It’s not that there weren’t good candidates, it’s that you had an unclear or uninteresting job posting! Revisit and revise the posting to be more clear and attractive to potential applicants.
So what gives? Don’t you want smart, savvy candidates and specialists in their field? Don’t you want innovative employees with a willingness to learn? It’s easier than you think to see through a bad job posting and reveal a not so desirable place to work. If you truly are a wonderful company, and this really is an amazing opportunity, try just as hard to wow me as you believe I should be trying to impress you.