Think Marketing, Not Secret Society for the Perfect Job Posting

Whether we were on the job hunt or behind the hiring desk, we all have met that certain recruiter who seemed to think that candidates were at their mercy and should be groveling for the job. When we see this attitude in others, it’s clear that it doesn’t serve the company very well, yet even the most seasoned recruiter can accidentally write a job posting that sends that message.

To dive deeper into the anatomy of the perfect job posting, you need to carefully consider your overall strategy to make sure your language is inviting and enticing rather than selective and secretive. The job posting needs to focus on marketing the position, not painting the picture that the company is an impressive secret society with cryptic requirements that only admit the most refined candidates.

This open attitude doesn’t mean you’re opening the invitation to unqualified candidates. After all, in marketing, you still target your audience, and you don’t advertise to just anyone. “Marketing” the position as a recruiter simply means that once you target your qualified audience you look broadly within that audience to welcome all who are capable of fulfilling the role.

Here are three tips for writing your job post to make sure that the final version broadens rather than shrinks the pool of qualified candidates:

Assume as little as possible

As often as not, being secretive is about what you don’t say as much as what you do say. Leaving out key information about salary range, responsibilities and how the position fits into the company overall can give a candidate the impression that they shouldn’t apply if they don’t already know those answers.

Take a look at your job posting draft to be sure that it clearly states the most basic details about the position as well as finer points about this position within your company. Candidates who don’t need to guess at the details will be able to accurately assess their qualifications for the position and move forward confidently.

Choose your words carefully  

Many recruiting managers use keywords and buzzwords in their job postings to send subtle messages about the workplace and what a candidate can expect in the day-to-day. Monitor those words carefully. Before you include one in your posting, make sure it means exactly what you think it means.

For example, “competitive environment” is one of those frequently used words. In your office, it could mean any number of things. But to prospective candidates, it is defined by their past experiences. A recent informal survey found some interesting anecdotal responses to asking how people interpreted this phrase. To one it meant, “Long hours, low salary (perhaps with bonus opportunities) and siloed responses to requests for support tasks.” To another it meant “It doesn’t sound like a fun, collaborative place to work.” To yet another, it meant an environment of “Rate and rank, where you have to be in the best 80 percent to keep your job at the end of the year. A steep ladder with greasy rungs and not a fun place to work.”

Don’t get hung up on a certain school

It’s no secret that employers and hiring managers are often swayed by big-name schools such as Harvard, Oxford and Princeton. But did you know that this is classified as Elite Institution Cognitive Disorder, or EICD, and that these candidates are often not even the best people to hire? When comparing graduation rates and test scores among high school students and then again among college students at big-name schools, Malcolm Gladwell uncovered some interesting numbers that indicate academic performance is relative to each cohort. Therefore, while alma mater might affect a candidate’s self-perceived performance, it may not weigh in either way for the candidate’s fit or qualifications for a position.

Unless it relates directly to the role at hand (such as school-specific admissions coaching) don’t limit your job posting requirements or preferences (or even hint at) preferring candidates from high-level, top-tier schools. Avoid phrases such as, “Degree from top tier law school preferred,” and leave educational background as open as possible so that you can focus on real-life skills and on-the-job accomplishments.

The goal of a job posting is to market or sell the position to the most qualified candidate possible. Use these tips to write a job post that warmly welcomes resumes from as many qualified people as possible.