If you’ve ever visited a country with a differing native language, I bet one of the first things you learn to say is something along the lines of, “I don’t speak your language”. Even if you’ve been to another country (or even the same country) where they do speak your language, but with a different accent — you can still find yourself at a loss because of a communication gap.
On the flip-side, being able to communicate with people by speaking their language unlocks a whole new type of connection. Language is everywhere. But if you can speak to someone in a language they understand — you’ve found the cheat code to creating a meaningful connection. Why? Well, because language is the lowest common denominator when it comes relation and identity. What you say, and the words you use speak volumes about your identity.
In today’s world of hyper-connected, data-driven, and highly-personalized communication. Language and words are an absolute differentiator when it comes to defining who you are and what you value. And, when it comes to branding on a corporate level. Language is even that much more important because it shapes your beliefs — whether you’re aware of it or not.
Textio did a study of the most used words that appear in job postings from top tech companies and colour codes them based on application proportions based on gender. Although most of the language is fairly similar, there are pretty clear differences between all the companies and you can see the direct impact the language has on hiring outcomes.
Language is incredibly important in writing job postings and the reason why is this: no one ever reads job postings for fun. People that read your job postings are reading them for a very specific reason — they are looking at your company as a potential place to work — and it’s critical that you speak to your ideal candidates in a language that they understand because it’s what separates your brand from the hundreds of thousands of other candidate hungry companies on the internet.
The good news is, majority of companies aren’t speaking the right language to their candidates. It seems like most job postings are written in Google Translation. What I mean is that, most job postings take some copy-and-pasted corporate jargon, add a sprinkle of buzzwords and toss it into a Candidate Translator — the outcome is a job posting written in a language that candidates don’t speak. And, candidates that land on postings like the ones mentioned above do one of two things.
- They bounce out of the experience and find a company that does speak their language
- They don’t even read the job posting and apply anyway cluttering your funnel with unengaged and unqualified candidates
If you want to start speaking to candidates in a language they understand here are 3 tips you can implement right now to help you stop translating and start connecting.
Tip 1: Type how you’d talk.
I’m not sure why most job postings are written like a Ph.D. dissertations — but I think I’ve got a clue. Job descriptions and job postings are two completely different documents and companies often get this wrong. A job description is a legal document, and a job posting is a marketing tool. When you’re writing a job posting — you’re a marketer. You want to connect with candidates in a language that is on-brand with your organization.
The absolute easiest way to do this is to simply read your job postings out loud. If it sounds like you’re reading out of a textbook, then you’re writing like a textbook. There is absolutely no rule that says job postings must use a certain type of formal language, so use your job postings as a branding opportunity to target, and differentiate.
Tip 2: Get to the meat and potatoes. Not a grocery list.
Sometimes when I read job postings it reminds me of writing papers in university. It was always easy when you got a minimum word requirement of 1000 words because all you had to do was rewrite the same sentence with different words. What was difficult was getting a maximum word requirement because every word you chose mattered. Another great example of this is “tell me your life story” vs “describe yourself in 3 words”.
Job postings with more words in them doesn’t necessarily mean that they are better job postings. In fact, according to Textio the optimal length for job postings is between 300–600 words. Even more, the optimal length for each sentence is about 13 words.
So, ditch the grocery list of duties and requirements and, instead, get to the meat and potatoes. At the end of the day you want your job postings to deliver the information a candidate needs, and get them to apply. Here’s your challenge when you write your next job posting. In 600 words or less answer these 3 questions: What will the candidate need to accomplish? How/what will they do to accomplish it? And what impact will that make on the business?
Tip 3: Ask “but why?”
Working in tech sales has taught me how important asking “why?” is. Asking why helps you better focus on actual problems versus perceived problems or actual needs versus perceived needs. Asking why is also incredibly powerful in writing better job postings because it helps you target, and focus in on actual candidate needs versus perceived candidate needs.
I mentioned this earlier but just to remind you no one is reading your job postings for fun. You should focus less on what they are applying for, and more on why they should be applying. Your candidates are reading your job postings for a reason. They’re looking for a company that speaks to them, their goals, and their needs. So, it’s imperative to write candidate-focused job postings that’ll appeal to them and offer the right information to help them decide if they are right fit or not.
Language is incredibly important. Understanding the language you, your brand, and your values speak, and understanding the language your candidates speak will help you better target and attract the candidates you’re looking for. If you’re struggling to connect with candidates, use these copywriting tips to speak to your candidates in a language they understand. You’ll set yourself way ahead of your competition, and positively impact your recruiting funnel by helping your candidates make better, more informed decisions. If you need more help with writing job postings. Feel free to download our Guide to Better Job Postings. It’s completely free, informative, and filled with actionable copywriting tips to help you write stand-out job postings.