Way back when, we wrote a blog post highlighting three common inclusions in help wanted ads that may be hindering your candidate searches. Today, we’d like to build upon that early posting and identify a few more potential pitfalls that can derail your efforts to attract star talent to your company:
Vague or trendy job title
We all learned in grade school that if you want to draw the reader in, you need a catchy title (and perhaps an even catchier opening line!) However, when it comes to job titles, trust us when we say it’s a case of “the simpler, the better.” This is due, at least in part, to the fact that your job title is one of the first filters that the search engines use. Therefore, overly vague job titles, such as Senior Consultant or Account Manager, are going to be buried by more specific searches. Similarly, cool or overly trendy job titles, such as Accounting Mastermind or Sales Superstar, are similarly going to hinder your searchability. To attract the best talent, you need to use concise, accurate titles that also contain industry specific words (but not abbreviations) where applicable. For example, if you are looking for a salesperson, include information on what the candidate would be selling or the level of the job, so that same request would become. For example, entry-level hospital sales representative, which is much more descriptive of what you are trying to attract and will “ping” more in the search engine algorithm.
While you want to appeal to folks already in your industry, using an abundance of industry – or worse, company – specific jargon can prove off-putting. This can include name-dropping software that only your company uses, information about internal processes or practices, or simply tagging a job level that isn’t scalable such as saying level 2 – of how many levels? – as opposed to asking for someone with two years of experience). This type of information isn’t going to ring a bell with your readers and will instead put them off applying to the job as they will just assume that they should know what this means and therefore aren’t qualified for the position.
Clichés and buzz words:
Another culprit that may be putting folks off is the abundant use of cliché or buzz words. Telling folks that they’ll be expected to hit the ground running can make them feel that they’ll be thrown to the wolves, when in fact you offer a comprehensive training program that allows them to ramp up quickly. Instead, you’ll attract more potential candidates if you do tout your training program and how well it prepares candidates to complete specific tasks associated with the new role.
Certain job postings call for certain candidates that possess certain skills or attributes. While you should never compromise on what you want, stating what you DON’T want is rarely effective. Using discriminatory language is of course off limits, but you’d be surprised how often it does sneak in with help wanted ads for salesmen and waitresses still pretty rife! Similarly, you also need to watch your use of negative language to express what you want, such as stating that any particular group or level of experience “need not apply.” Instead, be specific about what you DO want, such as a certain level of experience or skill set. In these cases, it’s also best to stay clear or terminology such as “preferred” and instead note the bare minimum that you are willing to consider for an applicant.
If you are located in a somewhat rural area, you may find that you don’t get as many hits when it comes to job searches, simply because people typically search by metro area. For better search engine optimization, list the zip code of your closest large city and then include in the job description the exact location so that people can determine whether the job is worth the commute before they apply.
Keep it short:
We live in a day and age where folks use their phones to do the bulk of their online searches, meaning that they skim read and scroll quickly! Coupled with a shortened attention span, you’ll want to make sure that your help wanted ad conveys the most amount of information in the shortest amount of space. At baseline, job search engines typically limit the number of characters (not words!) to around 4,000, and a recent survey by Indeed found that job descriptions should only run between 700 and 2,000 words in length to best grab the attention of candidates. Therefore, keep descriptions focused on the most relevant information associated with the position, such as the most important skills, experience, or attributes for the job in question, as well as relevant information that paints your company in the best possible light (think perks and benefits) to further increase interest.
As we touched on above, candidates will want to know about the perks of the position and what compensation is being offered. Knowing what the salary is ahead of time, even if it’s not an exact dollar figure and instead just a range, can help people to quickly determine whether they are interested in pursuing the opportunity further and can also provide clues to folks unsure of the level of the position to determine if they might be the right person for the job (since an entry-level person rarely makes $100,000 out of the gate!)
Make it simple:
And finally, while the job posting is certainly a crucial part of the candidate search process, you also need to make it easy for applicants to navigate your application process. In your job description, you should direct them to a careers page on your website that includes further details about the role, as well as a link to turn in their resume and fill out any other required information. It should go without saying that this process should be as seamless as possible as candidates who are submitting to multiple opportunities can quickly tire of a cumbersome or glitch-ridden application process.