If you’re not optimizing your job posting, then you’re being left behind
Updated: Apr 25
Despite fears of a recession, there are nearly 10 million open jobs in the US.
Competition for talent isn’t going away. And, if your job posting doesn’t stand out, then good luck.
But, too often, job postings are confusing, cumbersome, or clumsy in their attempt to impress. You don’t need all that. Instead, you need a simple, clean, and to-the-point description that delivers quick recognition in the sea of information.
Your job posting is primarily an advertisement. Like all advertising, a message will be delivered to the reader – even if it’s not the message you’re intending to send.
Is your job posting too wordy? The reader may interpret this as a boring or disorganized company. Is your job posting too pithy? Then you’re perceived as quirky and perhaps an annoying place to work. Does it emphasize DEI? That’s a huge red flag to merit-based workers.
A lot of job postings contain bullet-point after bullet-point of lofty requirements, hopes, and dreams, and other content that has been built up over time from previous job postings. The net result is job seekers don’t even apply because there’s little chance they satisfy every single line item.
For your job posting to deliver the right message, only certain information should make the cut. Here are tips that we’ve gleaned from the thousands of job postings on RedBalloon.work.
1. Use a clear and specific job title
Job titles are critical because they are the job seeker’s first impression of the position. If an applicant walked into a corporate marketing job interview in a T-shirt and sweatpants, that likely sets the tone for the entire interview. Your job title matters for the same reason.
Consider these job titles:
• Remote ASP.net Developer
• Copywriting/Marketing Ninja
• Bonus Opportunity + Commission – Midwest Insurance Sales
Many employers think they need to use lots of jargon or flashy language to catch applicants’ attention, but this actually distracts from the position and comes across as unprofessional, or even chaotic. Notice how the additional information (the industry, synonymous titles, benefits, location) overburdens the job title.
Also, CareerPlug reports that job titles in the 50-60 character range tend to outperform other titles by up to 40%.
These titles send a much cleaner impression:
• Senior Front End Developer
• Junior Copywriter
• Regional Sales Manager
To have a job title that competes and wins in the talent marketplace make it short, sweet, and professional. You don’t get another first impression.
2. Similarly, keep the description concise.
It can be tempting to post as much information as possible, and to use lofty language about duties, results oriented-ness, and other virtues. But, just as in job titles, less is more when describing duties.
Remember, there are 9.8 million open jobs, and about half that number of people looking for a job. So job seekers have a lot of options, and they’re going to gravitate to those positions that can clearly and succinctly attract their attention.
Over-listing qualifications will work against you. So too will platitudes that would be better served in a motivational speech or in that of a personal coach.
According to LinkedIn, the job posts that receive the most applications have fewer than 300 words.
This is because the job seeker can read through the whole posting, even if they were just planning on scanning it for key information.
Again, you need to think of your job posting as an advertisement. People are much more likely to watch a five-minute YouTube clip than a half-hour one, so the shorter the post, the likelier it is that the applicant will read it carefully.
3. Highlight the most essential responsibilities and qualifications
Far and away the most important thing that applicants need to know are the “must-have” responsibilities and qualifications.
Again, according to a survey by LinkedIn, 49% of job seekers stated that job duties and qualifications were one of the most important factors when considering a position.
A helpful way to draw attention to job duties and qualifications is through bullet points.
Compare the two examples below.
You will be responsible for vetting resumes, working with managers of other teams, and filling open positions at RedBalloon.work.
You will onboard candidates and ensure that they are set up for success.
You will also ensure that each new employee is provided the proper equipment and necessary facilities to operate.
Compare these long sentences to these bullet-point action items:
• Collaborating with team managers to post their open job positions
• Vetting resumes for quality candidates
• Conducting first interviews
• Purchasing and preparing necessary equipment for new employees
• Equipping new team members for success with cheerful onboarding
The second description is far superior to the first, because it not only has more information, but the format is also easier to read.
4. Talk about the company’s mission and values
There’s a growing shift in the American workplace. Surveys show that workplace engagement and satisfaction are near all-time-lows, and employees are hungry for impactful work that has meaning. Employers with strong mission-oriented personalities are gaining more traction in the job market.
A survey by Glassdoor found that 77% of job seekers consider a company’s culture before applying for a job, and 79% said they consider an employer’s mission and purpose.
So, be sure to have strong values and state them loud and clear. You’ll be amazed at the growing interest from career-minded job seekers.
But... what else can I do?
It’s possible that an employer could be optimized in all these areas but still not seeing results. If that’s the case, before giving up hope, ask these questions:
• Is this an executive position?
• Is this position based in a location with a high cost of living?
• Is there a qualification listed that, with some training, an otherwise qualified candidate could learn on the job?
• Could this position be accomplished remotely?
If any of these questions could be answered, “Yes,” then there’s a high chance of dramatically increasing applicant flow. Consider these options:
• Increase the Salary – Employers everywhere are struggling with wage inflation. Every employer must adjust from the pre-pandemic standards, or they’ll find their old perceptions of wage rates have left them uncompetitive in the talent market.
• Advertise Remote Positions – Most job seekers still favor remote positions. If your position can be accomplished remotely, you have an advantage, and you need to highlight that advantage.
• Consider a Relocation Package – There’s an exodus from red states to blue states, and if you’re in one of these red states, now is a great time to offer relocations packages.
It is tempting for employers to want to take short-cuts and hire the first promising applicant from Indeed so they can get back to running their business.
However, if you are a small business, then you cannot afford the financial loss of a bad hire, which averages $15,000 per hire according to a CareerBuilder survey. So, invest the time and attention on the front end to attracting quality candidates.
Also, if you are a small business owner, then you have a lot to offer. Employees who work for small businesses are statistically happier, and you can provide the kind of mentorship and career development that bigger companies cannot.
The labor market continues to be a challenge. And, with the ongoing people shortage, hiring will only become more competitive as the economy restarts its growth. To stay ahead of the game, you’ll want to set aside some time to write your job posting carefully. With good planning, you’ll make hires that build your company, strengthen your workplace culture, and bring success to your business.