Job Ads: 5 Errors to Avoid
Having looked at thousands of job postings during my years working for job boards and media companies, I have a good feel for what works. Recently, I took on the task of rewriting some job advertisements for my newer advertisers. My review of each of their postings and application processes inspired this article.
When posting employment ads, wherever you post it, this is what really matters:
- Your content
- The jobseeker’s opinion of your company and the opportunity
- The external marketing performed on your ad, such as pushing it out to social and other media
- The total candidate application experience
These five factors generally determine the results of a job advertisement. What’s important is writing a good ad and then finding a site that offers you the most assistance in making your entire recruitment experience a positive one.
Why isn’t your posting working?
1. You have posted a job description rather than a job advertisement.
Engage the jobseeker by attracting them to the position, rather than just listing off requirements. Always emphasize:
- What’s in it for the job seeker?
- What’s it like to work for your company?
You can immediately improve your response by adding information about your company. Why do people like working there? (Check Kununu.com or Glassdoor.com for positive employee comments if you don’t have reliable data from your own employees.)
Do you offer salary or benefits that your competitors don’t? Let seekers know. Does your branding give a feel for what working for your company is like? It should. Branding can both attract the people you want, and deter those not qualified from applying.
Real information about the role and your company should be at the heart of your job posting; not that you need someone with “good communication skills, etc...” Most applicants will identify positively with broad statements like that and you will learn little.
2. You have taken the “Newspaper Classifieds” approach to posting a job.
In this case the job posting is two sentence fragments long, usually a listing of one or two-word requirements.
When I first saw postings like that, I didn’t understand them, but coming from a newspaper background, I think I’ve figured it out. I assume they come from people who used to buy newspaper classified ads and are afraid they are being charged by the word. Flesh that thing out! Take the time to write complete sentences instead of sentence fragments and word abbreviations. People rarely search for abbreviations, they make your posting much more difficult to find.
Postings like this don’t convey a positive message about your company or the potential job opportunity.
3. You posted the job on your career site or a job board and thought you were done.
Posting your job opportunity on your own company career site or on a major job board often is not enough to fill roles where there is a lot of competition for top talent. If there are few qualified candidates available for your open role, you have to position your company as an employer of choice and get your message in front of those candidates.
Where are these candidates? They are on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other media sites, doing what interests them. To get your opportunity in front of top talent, you need to use tools like SEO (Search Engine Optimization), branding, social media, targeted e-mailings, and perhaps a recruiter to help you target the right audience.
Social media is more important today than ever; 79% of job seekers use social media in their job search. This figure increases to 86% for younger job seekers who are in the first 10 years of their careers. (source: Glassdoor) They want to research your company online, and having a strong social media presence allows you to control your messaging about working for you.
4. Your jobsite isn’t Mobile optimized.
More job seekers and employees are using their mobile devices during the job search process, and they’re doing it more frequently. Nine in 10 (89%) of job seekers report they’re likely to use a mobile device during their job search in the next 12 months, up seven percentage points (82%) from less than a year ago. And 45% of job seekers say they use their mobile device specifically to search for jobs at least once a day, up two percentage points in less than a year. (source: Glassdoor)
If you don’t provide a mobile-optimized job site for your posting, you are losing the majority of potential candidates.
5. Your candidate application experience is awful.
- Make sure you allow job seekers to drop off a resume, even if you don’t have any relevant jobs posted.
- Have a way to store those resumes so they are searchable when an appropriate opportunity arises. Folders on your desktop or an Excel file don’t count, they’re not easily searchable.
Have YOU tried applying for a job with your company? Do you have to click to apply on a job board, and then search again for the job on your own career site or ATS (Applicant Tracking System)? How many clicks does it take before you can drop off a resume?
Do you have an application that people must fill out before they can apply? Does it ask totally inappropriate questions like the applicant’s current salary before letting them drop off a resume? Applicant drop off is real. If you are forcing candidates to go through a process that requires registration on your site or ATS or takes more than a couple of minutes before the applicant can drop off a resume, you’re losing many qualified candidates due to your own application process.
Some human resources professionals think that their application screens out all but the top candidates, but the opposite is true. Top candidates know they don’t have to spend 30 minutes filling out an application when they have other opportunities.
So when you want to hire a harder to fill role, don’t just call around and compare rates for a job posting. Make sure that your job ad is well written and is being pushed out in front of the audience you are trying to reach, that it is appealing to potential applicants, and that it is easy for them to apply.
Jessica L. Benjamin writes about workplace culture, leadership, academia, tech & politics. Reed English BA, Loyola JD.