Without a doubt, the internet has become THE place to both look for and apply for jobs, meaning that your organization now has unprecedented access to a wide range of candidates. Then again, so do all the other employers.
How do you come out on top — and attract the best candidates — in such a crowded field? By mastering the fine art of writing online job postings, that’s how.
Here are 12 tips to help you do just that.
Begin with a clear job title, as short, simple, and clear as possible. We cannot overstate the importance of a clear job post title, both for the sake of your potential job candidates and the automated processes that will be scanning it on the web. And remember: this is the part of your post that readers will click on to access the entire post. Make sure it hits the nail on the head in terms of attracting the right candidate.
Limit it to a bare bones title of the position, not the employment location or work hours; save that kind of information for the body of the posting.
Do, however, include some specificity where useful and relevant, including the career level if applicable. For example, you may be looking to hire a designer, but if what you’re really looking for is someone with digital experience to lead your team, then say so (e.g., Director, Digital Design Team).
Use an abbreviation (only if there is an accepted, industry-standard one, and even then approach with caution. For example, VA may mean Virginia or it may mean the Veterans Administration; the same abbreviation is widely used in both cases.
Avoid special characters such as asterisks and exclamation points as a means of drawing attention to your job title, as these can be confusing to search engine bots.
Also, beware of ampersands, which have their own significance in programming language quite apart from their use as the conjunction “and.”
After a great title, the next most important part of your posting is your first paragraph. This is where you grab your reader’s interest and let him know whether or not this is the job he’s looking for. Resist the temptation to use a boilerplate first paragraph; save any generic information for last. Instead, use the opening paragraph to present your most important, interesting, and compelling information about the job.
In fact, in the very first sentence, you should both state your company name and reiterate the job title, and include essential points such as job schedule, job location, and whether it’s a full- or part-time position.
You may also want to include a descriptor or two to give the job seeker a sense of your workplace culture or point out what’s special about employment with you, such as awards and designations, quality of leadership, stability of workforce, work pace, and the size of your facility. For example: ABCD Marketing is currently seeking a full-time director of digital business development to lead a small but energetic team at our state-of-the-art midtown offices.
It may help to think of it this way: If someone takes only enough time to read the title and the first sentence of a posting, is that information alone enough to both inform and engage? If so, interested applicants will keep reading.
You can then use the rest of the body of your posting to describe the job being offered. Make sure the body of your posting is as clear and concise as possible. Most people reading web content are used to scanning it very quickly, and job seekers don’t take long to decide if a particular position is right for them. Include only enough description to cover the basics of the job, its prerequisites (such as work experience, demonstrated skills, education, and licenses held), and its requirements (what will be expected of the person serving in this role).
If possible, break up information into several paragraphs, leaving a line space between each paragraph.
Be clear about how to apply for the job, whom an applicant can contact about it, a bit about what your company does (if it’s not self evident or well-known), and how to learn more about your business or organization, but leave longer explanations of your workplace to your company site. Relevant links may include both your corporate website and that of your specific work location.
And as an added bonus, here are some general points to keep in mind:
As a general rule, use black text in an easy-to-read font.
Separate paragraphs with a line of visual space.
Be wary of cutting and pasting from other documents, as doing so can add extra, unwanted characters to your writing or cause spacing issues.
Avoid slang and jargon. Also, stay away from references that are meaningful only inside your own organization.
Use abbreviations only if they are accepted industry standard.
Avoid use of all caps except for abbreviations.
Avoid using exclamation points, which are generally considered unprofessional.
Use bulleted lists — just like this one here — to make information easy to read. No line spacing is needed between bulleted items.
Finally, always ask yourself these three questions: Is this information necessary to initially attract a qualified candidate, or is it something better suited for the interview stage of the hiring process? Will someone from outside my organization understand it? How will it look if viewed on a smartphone or tablet?
Up next: writing your post for search engine optimization.