Job Postings That Attract Top Talent

Every Thursday, we bring you Endless Recruitment: tried and tested recruitment strategies to attract, interview and select your future star performers.

Last week I posted about how small businesses can leverage their size to attract top talent. This week, I want to build on a point I made about job postings. Here’s the thing – if you’re trying to recruit top talent, you need to put in some work. The days of recruitment being a one-way street are long gone. These days, candidates want the same treatment from employers that employers expect from them.

We expect candidates to have a great looking resume, spend time on a custom cover letter, show up on time for interviews, dress a certain way, ask amazing questions, send a follow-up note, the list goes on. Yet, so often we aren’t prepared to give them the same courtesy. Our job postings are boring and flat, we make candidates wait for us at the interview, we don’t make them feel welcome, and we don’t respond to their follow-up note.

You know who you are. If you’ve done any of those employer things above, times have changed. Candidates are revolting and the truly outstanding candidates, the ones who know they could go anywhere, are not having any of it. Believe me when I tell you, they will completely skip your job posting, if they’re even looking.

And if you manage to get them to the interview stage, and you don’t sell them on your company and the job, they will back out of the process. Ten years ago, this almost never happened. Candidates would apply for the job, we would call them in for an interview, they would need to sell me on how much they want the job, and I would take weeks to get back to them because, you know, we’re all busy. 99% of the time, they would still be waiting and holding out because the company that I worked for amazing.

These days, even top employers have trouble holding on to amazing candidates if they take too long to make a decision, or if the hiring manager is too brusque or arrogant, or if HR doesn’t get back to them on time. And these days, they’re not just going to pull out of the interview process, they will tell the whole world on social media sites like Glassdoor. By the way, if you think Glassdoor doesn’t matter, you’re very wrong. People look at Glassdoor ratings before even hitting the “Apply” button on your posting. I’ll be writing a blog post on how to notch up your Glassdoor ratings soon so stay tuned.

So, what exactly can you do to make sure your candidates take notice of your small, possibly-not-so-well-known company?

Make your job posting look and sound like a sales page.

All those sales page principles you’ve learned as a small business owner, apply to your job posting. Grab their attention, show them how they’ll benefit, talk about the features of the company, tell them what’s going to happen when they click the “Apply” button, and finally, what they can expect in terms of compensation.

So, let’s break this down.

1. The look

I’m sure you’ve seen job ads on LinkedIn or Indeed that look like this:

Job posting 1

The posting jumps right into the details of the job. The next section is about what the company wants from you. If there is anything about what the company is offering, it’s an afterthought at the bottom, saying “Competitive compensation and benefits”. If the company is really trying, they’ll say something about education reimbursement or work-from-home benefits.

Now, here’s a job posting that is the complete opposite from Betterteam:

Job posting 2

Notice the first paragraph/sentence that captures the reader’s attention right away. It talks about how great it is to work there, and then goes into what the company is looking for. But even that is written in a way that tries to match the candidate to the company. It’s not a list of qualifications.

2. Why should they work for you

The best sales pitches start with the benefits the product brings to the consumer. When translating that to a job posting, the best way is to talk about how your company solves a need in the candidate. Of course, in order to do this, you need to know who your ideal candidate is, and what motivates them. My last blog post talked about two universal truths about top performers. I’ll dive into this a bit more in a future blog post, but those are good starting points. Play up how your company is different from other employers and what you can do for them to “serve” their need to be fulfilled at their job.

This is also a good spot to talk about the ideal candidate. Check out the template job posting for how to position this without sounding like a checklist of qualifications. I’m also going to write a blog post on how to determine what qualifications you need for the job. Most times companies assume they need something, but they really don’t (or they don’t need as many qualifications as they think).

3. What they can expect as an employee

This is where you talk about the features of the job and the company. Most of my clients are in the professional services companies in insurance, technology, financial services, so I’m going to focus on that, but I find this works with any industry, though perhaps to varying degrees of success. Talk about how many (and which) projects they’ll be working on, or helping out with. Top talent like feeling a sense of accomplishment through the work they do, so highlight that. Talk about what their colleagues are like. Tell them to go to Glassdoor and see what their current and former employees are saying about you – if you have a Glassdoor profile (DISCLAIMER: only do this if your Glassdoor ratings are where you want them to be! I’ll be writing a blog post on how to boost Glassdoor ratings if they’re not). Finally, talk about the reporting structure (the flatter the better) and anything else that sets you apart from other employers.

4. What happens after they hit “Apply”

This is where you can really stand out from the rest. So few employers spell out exactly what the hiring process is for that job. Candidates apply for a job, and they feel like their application goes into the “black hole” of the company’s applicant tracking system. Most times, companies will say something like “Only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted” which means that if people don’t hear back, they’re not selected for an interview. But it never tells candidates when that interview selection decision will be made.

So, let’s change that and tell these valued high caliber applicants exactly what happens once they submit their resume. Give them the dates when you’ll be reviewing applicants, the dates when you’ll be scheduling interviews, the dates when you’ll be scheduling assessments (if you have any), and the dates when you’ll be making the final decision (or expect to fill the position).

Two things happen with this approach. First, in a process that’s so fraught with ambiguity, this level of transparency is refreshing. Second, it holds your own team (and you) accountable for moving the recruitment process along. Too many companies spend far too long recruiting for one role.

5. Compensation

There are two schools of thought on listing compensation for the role. Most employers in the private sector will not list compensation. The reasons: 1) to protect the privacy of other people who hold the same jobs. 2) People are touchy about compensation and if they see that x job is paying $y, then their z job should also be worth $y or more. 3) Compensation shouldn’t be a driving force in the application process. 4) You might drive away qualified people. I agree with all those points.

However, when I think about the big picture, if you pay your employees fairly and are open and honest with them about their own compensation, then this should not be a concern. I’ve been helping companies with recruiting for 11 years, and the topic of salary expectations comes up right at the screening step. So why not eliminate ambiguity on both sides and just list a range? It will save you from screening candidates who don’t match your salary offering and it will save candidates time from applying for jobs for which they are too senior (or junior).

That said, I’ll leave this one up to you. You need to weigh the pros and cons and make a decision that’s right for you.

To make your next job posting stand out and attract quality candidates, download a free copy of our job posting template here.

Good luck, and if you want me to take a look at your job posting, just send me an email at ss@carashrconsulting.com.

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