4 tips to craft job posts that land hires

A bad job posting can steal a person’s hope — and cause a slew of expensive consequences, Kat Kibben, founder of Three Ears Media, a recruiting and job post consulting firm, said during a SHRM Inclusion session Oct. 31.

Unfortunately for employers, bad job postings are entirely too common, they said (to the agreement of the audience), which not only wastes employers’ money but may in the long run prompt people to quit and recruiters to lose trust with their hiring managers.

In other words, employers that don’t think twice about their job postings may be leaving a lot of value on the table, Kibben noted.

“When you think about the elements of branding, the key marketing materials that people see that represent who you are as an organization, you get one career site. One email automation stream,” they said. “But do you know what you get hundreds of? Job postings.”

That means nailing the job posting is critical to success across the board — and Kibben explained four key steps recruiters can take to ensure their postings land with the right talent.

1. Take ownership of the process.

Recruiters can hamstring themselves early on by serving as an “order taker” to hiring managers rather than a true partner in the hiring process. 

“Intake meetings are not optional,” Kibben said, “No matter what, this must be collaborative and you must work on it together.”

Explain to managers what the hiring process looks like. How long will it take to see a candidate? What are the benchmarks? Where will the posts be posted and for how long? How do interviews happen? And what should a hiring manager do if they meet the candidate they know they want?

“You want them to see you as a hiring expert,” Kibben said, and answering those questions can go a long way in building that powerful rapport.

2. Make external job titles strategic — and potentially different from internal ones.

Job titles for postings can be a tricky topic, Kibben noted, but the key for recruiters is to get a job posting in front of the right eyeballs. Hiring managers may feel tied to what the job would be called internally but, during the recruitment process, an external-facing job title can help pull in the right applicants, they explained.

But how does a recruiter find that proper job title? Turn to Google, plug in the job title and the word “resume” and see what comes up. Pick three, then compare the traffic each title receives in Google Trends. And then bring that report to the intake meeting, Kibben said.

Hiring managers may be a little spooked by what they see in this report, so it is imperative that recruiters walk them through it, step by step. Emphasize why the marketing job title may be different, Kibben said.

3. Set realistic mandatory requirements.

Hiring managers, when given the chance, will likely provide a “laundry list” of mandatory requirements, Kibben said. To drill down to what is really required for the job, get comfortable asking the right questions, even if it feels a little bit like repeating yourself.

“I always ask in three different ways,” they said. “I want them to be annoyed with me.”

Those questions can include:

  • What tools would the person in this job use every day?
  • What projects would they have done before?
  • What does a person in this position do every day?
  • Who do they talk to every day?
  • Will the person in this position manage people?
  • What are your “Don’t show me a resume without this” items?

As to the last question, never ask it open-ended, Kibben said. Give prompts based on what you heard previously; “I heard you say x or y…”

4. Address bias without fear.

“Everyone is biased, including you,” Kibben said. “But you are the job post expert, and you can debunk it with data instead of feelings.”

Common biases in job postings can include what many recruiters believe are very basic aspects of them — most notably, years of experience.

“It’s ageist and it also doesn’t usually tell you anything” about how they spent those years in previous jobs, they said. “Experiences are the most neutral language.”

College education is another example of bias in job postings that may be keeping highly qualified applicants out of certain jobs. While some jobs certainly require such an education, like lawyers and doctors, Kibben said, for many it is simply an artificial barrier.

“Going to college is a privilege, not a right,” Kibben said.

A recruiter’s best bet is to be specific and talk straight about what the job really needs. Instead of something vague like “strong verbal skills,” say “you can talk to executives about technical issues,” Kibben explained.

“Skills are not a universal language,” they said. “Be specific. Say what it is. Say it how you would say it to your best friend.”