This one is going to be special.
Because I am going to show you how you can attract more candidates for your job opening easily. Whether it is a freelancing job or whether you are looking for a full-time web designer, it doesn’t really matter.
From my experience over these last years, what I am going to share with you seems to be still one of the most overlooked things that people simply don’t do when they start looking to hire someone.
Did you also notice the following?
For whatever reason people seem to be eager to go on social media and share their job posting on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram etc. Sharing seems to be more important than the job posting itself sometimes. So, the “how” seems more important than the “what”, funny enough. In fact, in my very first article for this SPARKLE newsletter a couple of months ago, I touched upon this with a funny job advert from New Zealand.
If you haven’t read that article go ahead now, the following will make much more sense to you.
You are back?
Okay, let’s move on.
So, unless your company is already well known out there in a certain industry, chances are that your job posting is probably going to be the very first thing that the potential candidates sees of you.
In fact, there is a 99% chance that the candidate has never been on your homepage before seeing it. He probably doesn’t know a thing about you and your company.
This is why I often call the job advert “your window” – meaning this is your first and best chance to give an impression about who you are and who you are looking for (and why).
Therefore, I am convinced, if you get this right, everything else will be smoother, because just like with a good article, people are more willing to share it, if they find it interesting and valuable.
Does this make sense?
I have more than a handful of tactics that I use to write great job adverts (or to optimize existing ones).
In a couple of minutes, I am going to show you in detail three of my favourites and how you can use these tactics for your job openings as well.
Note: I am (only) now starting to collect actual numbers to compare the success rate of old job postings versus the optimized versions, so that’s why you won’t see me comparing numbers here. As an example, what I can share with you are the numbers of a new job advert I wrote for a client end of last year which had within three weeks on one job platform alone 968 views. Here is a screenshot of the job ad’s stats sent through by the owners of the job platform.
This is what it means in detail: This job posting had 968 total views and of those 655 visitors looked at the job posting for longer than 30 seconds. Then there were 458 active visitors who stayed the longest, which means people scrolling down the page, printing it or applying. The most important figure is this one though: In total the client received 42 applications in this limited time period. Which roughly means 10% of those who stayed around the longest actually were truly interested and applied (458).
We actually decided to take the job ad offline after less than 3 weeks as the majority of the 42 applications were of very high-quality, so if the posting would have run for a longer period, the numbers would probably be much higher. However, since it wasn’t really about the numbers, but to find the one “right” person to join their team. 42 awesome candidates were more than sufficient to start selecting. And yes, they did hire one lady out of those people. (Since the job posting is now offline, it did not make a lot of sense to me to share a link with you here.)
Now, the question is: how can you do something like this with your job posting?
Before I show you in depth how to, there is one more thing to get straight before we do.
What most companies do
I’d quickly like to illustrate to you what a lot of companies tend to do and see for yourself what works best for you and what doesn’t.
Many, many businesses out there spend a lot of time and money to attract new customers. They get advice from sales experts, hire a sales person or an entire team. They polish their website with wonderful sounding text and images, yet some of them – not all – neglect that not only potential customers visit their homepage, no, potential future employees as well.
Since the beginning of this year, I have surveyed over 600 companies’ homepages and less than 45% had posted their own job openings on their own website, yet they were all publishing job adverts on external job boards. Why is that?
Why not use the advantage and provide some information for candidates? I am not talking about a full-blown page with plenty of career opportunities and wonderful perks to go to Disneyland for free (like some of the big names out there). No, simple things will do, but I don’t want to go into detail about that here now, that’s worth another article.
I just wanted to show you what possibilities lie at your fingertips to not only attract more potential candidates, but also suitable candidates who can start to identify themselves (or not) with you and your company by checking out your homepage.
Now, let’s put this aside for now.
My three favourite strategies for a successful job posting
Let’s focus on making sure that people actually read your job advert till the very end.
How is that doable?
I am going to show you my favourite tactics. And if they work for my clients looking for candidates in tiny niches (like for the one I’ve shown you above) there is no reason why these tactics shouldn’t work for you either.
Just to be clear, here I am assuming that you already have an advertisement written down somewhere. If you haven’t, even better, you can start from scratch. In this case, you might want to jump straight to strategy #2.
Here is what I do:
Tactic #1: “Would I apply for this job?”
The first “trick” is super easy, yet sooooo overlooked!
Just ask yourself this simple question when reading through your job advert as if you are seeing this for the first time: “Would I apply for this position by just reading this job advertisement?”
If your answer is “No”, then the type of people you want to work with are probably not that interested either. So, go on and highlight the parts that you do not like. Chances are that the “improvements” for these sections will be covered in the next two strategies. If you find that they are not covered, please leave a comment below and I will be happy to address it separately.
Tactic #2: The inside-out job advert
Now that you have highlighted part of your job posting, take a close look at the overall structure of your posting.
Does it look something like the following? This is a typical structure of how a lot of job openings out there are build (you can simply check for yourself on LinkedIn):
- Company logo and/or image
- Job title
- Company profile
- Application details
Just to be clear, I am not saying there is anything wrong with this structure. In my view, this is just often quite boring to read and not really focused on the reader.
It is key to remember that you are advertising a position here to a potential audience (It is not that different than your customer at first). And commonly they are not only interested in what the task is and what is requested of them, but also what is “in for them” and by this I do not only mean compensation and perks.
Here, I am coming back to the main point of the “New Zealand article” I was referring to earlier. They want to know why you are doing what you are doing. Why you are looking for a new team member. What your vision and mission is etc. Nowadays, it is about so much more than just working for money. In fact a recent study has shown that only 5% of the modern workforce are changing jobs for the money (Source: Stepstone Trendstudie 2016).
This is why I want to share with you a much more effective structure for job postings, which I call the “inside-out job advert”, where we start with and focus on the reader.
This is the flexible structure of an inside-out job advert:
- Company logo/identity
- Job title
- What You Can Expect
- What You Bring Along (i.e. qualifications)
- How We Can Collaborate
- Who We Are (about the company)
- Application details
If you are keen to try this structure out, I usually combine it with the next step, as it goes somewhat hand in hand. So, here we go:
Tactic #3: The glasses approach
Job postings are literally a form of advertisement, only a lot of people forget about it or don’t know what to do differently. Here, my favourite approach is to put on the “glasses” of a potential candidate and read the paper from their perspective. And questions like the following come up: “Does this sound appealing? Do I want to read on? Do I resonate with this? Is the language super formal while I usually prefer the casual style?”
You might ask yourself now: Where is the difference to strategy #1?
There is a fine line between the two. For the first strategy you do not step into your candidate’s shoes. You simply look at it from your business perspective, reflecting upon the content and find out what you like about it and what you don’t. Here for this strategy, we literally imagine being a candidate who reads this job posting for the first time.
Now, I do not recommend to start by improving the title and then working your way down. The title ideally comes last. This is the eye catcher for the reader, if the title does not get their attention; it’s likely that the rest won’t either. So safe this for last, when you know exactly whom you are looking for and why and when you are happy with your other tweaks.
Start with the introduction.
This is a teaser. So, it’s overall purpose is to raise interest, maybe even create an expectation for the reader. When a potential candidate looks at the title and the introduction, he’s more likely to continue reading.
Here is an example of a job posting’s introduction I recently created for a traditional family-owned business here in Germany. I translated it into English for you, so it might not be perfect as text translation is not my strength, but you’ll hopefully get the picture:
Please note here that it’s not the purpose that those questions get answered immediately. Its intention is to give the reader a feeling to know whom the company is looking for. The nice side effect is, you can always use these questions as a basis for a first conversation.
Also, there is no right or wrong here. Your introduction could look entirely different. Less questions, more statements. I encourage you try it out, instead of jumping straight to the details or presenting revenue figures of your company. I have received great feedback (from the customer and applicants) from using such a format.
What Can You Expect?
The “What You Can Expect” section is very much about the tasks and the work environment. It has proven its worth to be mentioned before the qualifications. Why? This section is all about the “benefits” for the potential candidates. And who does not like to read about benefits first? Make this as “juicy” and at the same time as real as possible.
Portray a real picture of the tasks, of what they can truly expect, not just what is written on a piece of paper. If it’s about sitting in front of two screens for 8 hours a day finding software bugs, then tell them that. In a few simple sentences, or in bullet points. There are people out there who like doing this, you do not need to make something else up to make it sound more appealing.
What You Bring Along (Qualifications)
The next part is about the qualifications the candidate should ideally bring along. So, this is somewhat self-explanatory. At the same time, I’d love to point out, the more specific this part of your job posting is, the more difficult it might be to attract a suitable candidate for this position. Very often companies have the tendency to look for people with profiles who do not exist in reality, so they often make it tricky for themselves to find a needle in a haystick.
I am also not saying to keep it too general, a healthy balance is needed. I often differentiate here between “must-have” skills and “nice-to-have” qualifications and mention this explicitly.
How We Can Collaborate
In the “Collaboration” Section, I always mix the “soft” aspects of the job like the company’s communication habits and team collaboration with some details about the company culture and the workplace details itself. Maybe even mention team events etc. Again, making this as real as possible helps you when it comes to interviewing potential candidates. Their expectations are often met easier, as they seem to already know your company.
Who We Are
In this part it’s all about the company info. Describe your company as genuinely as possible, you might want to avoid sounding like some static text from a report, then again, maybe not. If you have a career page, link to that. A nice-to-have: Maybe you are thinking or have just created a short video? Usually this description is about 2-3 sentences long.
How To Apply
The application details are not to be missed. No matter whether you are gathering the applications manually or have a tool linked with your job advert, I highly recommend to mention a contact person for the candidates. Not just a generic email address. After all, you are human and they are human. You both potentially want to work together, so why not start with the connection right here?
Finishing Strong With The Title
And now to the title, after having done the majority of the work, what fits your style more and at the same time addresses the ideal candidate? A title like: “Web Designer” or “Michelangelo 2.0 – Graphic and Web Designer”?
Even though the second option might sound more appealing, if your company culture does not reflect such a statement, using it can be more misleading than helpful. In my personal experience, being authentic goes way further than being salesy.
Maybe it makes sense to change the job title into a question? For one of my clients we are testing it on their homepage and it looks somewhat like this (I tweaked it a little) AND it’s not always about using keywords in the title:
It can sometimes be helpful to take a look at popular job boards in your niche and see what other companies are doing. Do you like any of the titles you see? What language are they using?
I’ve shown you in this article how I use these three strategies to create job postings from scratch or to optimize existing ones.
Now, it’s your turn.
And when you start, just keep these three things in mind:
- Would I apply for this job?
- Does it make sense to test out the upside-down strategy?
- What happens when I put on the candidate’s glasses?
When you apply them, your job advert will not only stick out, it’ll also attract the people you are looking for!
Questions? If you have some, please comment below!
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