Labor Market, Recruiting

How to Create More Effective Job Postings

Job seekers may be dismissing your postings in under 60 seconds. Here’s why.

Research shows that you only have 49.7 seconds to engage job seekers.

So, how do you craft concise, organized job descriptions capable of relaying all the information someone needs to decide if they’re a good fit for your open role – in under one minute?

Rather than spouting standard recommendations you could find in any old blog post, let’s look at what research tells us.

Eye-tracking study reveals a harsh truth about job seekers

In 2013, TheLadders conducted an in-depth eye-tracking study with job seekers. They asked participants to self-report how much time they spent reading job descriptions before deciding to pursue the opportunity.

  • 44% of job-seekers claimed they spend one to five minutes reading job descriptions before deciding whether to pursue them or not.
  • 19% said they invest up to 10 minutes reading a posting on the first pass.

 

But what actually happens?

After collecting this self-reported baseline data, researchers performed an eye-tracking study with those same job-seekers. The team used software to record where each potential applicant’s eyes landed on the job description page and for how long.

The analysis revealed that job-seekers looked at a post for an average of 49.7 seconds before dismissing a position as a poor fit. If the job appeared to match their skills and interest? Job seekers sacrificed 76.7 seconds of their attention to review the post.

Though this study was conducted some years ago, one can only infer that modern job seekers are even more likely to skim job postings in an even bigger hurry.

The question is why?

  1. Job seekers are inundated with hundreds of postings.
    After looking at the first few, it becomes tiring to read the same basic content over and over again, increasing the likelihood of a good skim. Especially early in a job hunt, when candidates are really just looking to absorb the broad strokes.
  2. Many applicants have been victimized by a misleading job posting.
    Poorly written, ambiguous, or straight-up misleading job descriptions run rampant – so there’s a weariness to reading too deeply into a job description. Any marketer can tell you how frustrating it is to see job after job looking for a ‘marketing specialist’ when what the company actually means is ‘salesperson.’
  3. The application process is still dreadfully redundant – and we’re busy people.
    This is likely the most significant factor for most of us. No matter what task is put in front of us, we’re antsy to get it off our plate ASAP, and putting in job applications is no exception. The fact that so much of the process is still manual and requires you to fill out the same forms over and over and over again certainly doesn’t help.

 

So, where do job-seekers focus their limited attention?

First, they look for:

  • job title
  • company information
  • details, including salary and recruiter information

 

That’s where the eye travels on the page first – but where do applicants spend most of their time when they review a job description?

Priorities by time spent:

  • job description (25.9 seconds)
  • about the company (23 seconds)
  • job requirements (14.6 seconds)

 

Based on these numbers, we can infer that candidates are most interested in the ‘what’s in it for me’ elements of a job post– which makes a lot of sense if they’re early in their search. It’s also good to note that many candidates skipped the bottom section of the job description entirely, so it may be wise to make sure you’re not putting any critical information in that section.

Now, let’s talk about how you write a job description that will engage and resonate with a modern job-seeker based on what we’ve learned from how recruiters look at resumes.

Lessons from recruiter resume screening

A 2018 TheLadders eye-tracking survey reports that the average initial screen time clocked in at a mere 7.4 seconds in 2018. Much like job seekers, recruiters are searching for keywords. Given the relatedness of the two processes, it’s safe to assume many of the same best practices that apply to resumes also benefit teams writing job descriptions.

Based on TheLadders eye-tracking data, you should focus on:

  • Make the resume (or job description) easy to read
    Use simple layouts with clearly marked section and title headers. Recruiters (and job seekers) spend more time focusing on job titles than any other element.
  • Create the resume (or job description) using preferred reading pattern layouts
    Layouts that take advantage of F-pattern and E-pattern reading tendencies (e.g., bold job titles supported by bulleted lists of accomplishments)
  • Highlight the ‘big so what’
    Provide an overview or mission statement at the top of the first page of a resume (or a concise description of the role you’re hiring for at the top of a job description).
  • Be bold
    Make sure keywords you want to be sure recruiters (or applicants) register are bolded and easy to spot amidst other content.
  • Make your mantra ‘less is more’
    Be concise. Use short, declarative statements to describe achievements (or desired outcomes for the role). Steer clear of paragraphs.

 

The worst resumes neglect these best practices and instead use few or no headers, long sentences, multiple columns, and poor layouts that don’t draw the eye to any particular content. These layout faux pas result in very little whitespace, which creates a cluttered look and feel.

More proven tips to attract top talent

Beyond basics, here are some additional things to consider as you work to craft your ideal job description.

Nail the title

Job titles have a big impact on whether qualified candidates can find your open roles. For best results, make sure yours are 1) accurate and 2) searchable.

The importance of choosing the right job title to attract the right type of candidate to the role can not be understated.

Over the past several years, some companies have become rather playful with job titles, using clever copy to attract candidates. Our advice? No ninjas, gurus, or unicorns.

This approach may be fun, but it detracts from the real grit of the role, the uncompromisingly important things. Playful titles can also make it hard for qualified job seekers to find your posting.

In case you need one more reason to steer clear, companies using flowery titles – like “Director of First Impressions” to recruit a receptionist – are likely to mislead applicants, resulting in applications coming in from over, under, or differently qualified candidates.

So how do you come up with a search-optimized, accurate title for your open role? Indeed suggests ​​focusing your title on what the job entails, avoiding abbreviations, including the level of seniority required, and sticking with a 50-60 character title,

Above all, they suggest companies “make sure their job title isn’t meaningless.”

Don’t keep secrets

What’s the fastest way to turn potential candidates off? Hide critical information.

Think about it this way. Would you like it if someone propositioned you to spend time on a project that may or may not be relevant to you? Of course not! So don’t ask others to do that for you.

Provide a salary range, even if it’s broad. A Glassdoor survey reveals that salary (67%), benefits (63%), and location (59%) are the top three things job seekers look for in a job description. So, provide a salary range – even if it’s broad. Highlight unique benefits. Disclose whether remote or hybrid options exist.

Candidates don’t have the patience to be kept waiting or guessing – especially those high in demand, like knowledge workers. They’ll lose interest in your position really fast if they can’t find the information they need to determine if it’s worth their time to apply.

Highlight things that make your company and team desirable and unique

Briefly answer the journalistic questions: the who, what, when, where, and why of your company. Then, define the company’s mission and values. It can also be helpful to include information about your growth stage, so candidates understand what kind of environment to expect.

Next, give candidates contextual information about the team they’ll work with. Name specific roles they’ll heavily collaborate with, talk about your tech stack, describe how you measure results and talk about any recent wins.

Thoughtfully craft a succinct job responsibilities section.

Collaborate with the hiring manager to define the most critical skills required for the role. Keep your list at ten or less and describe strengths that would make someone a good fit. Include levels of detail that are relevant to the seniority of the position.

Make it clear what skills are mission-critical and what skills give a candidate bonus points. Consider using an outcomes-driven approach to listing required skills so candidates can visualize other paths to the desired goal if they don’t have experience in a particular area.

Above all, focus on writing job descriptions with a ‘what’s in it for me’ mindset – because ultimately, that’s what candidates are asking themselves. Job seekers – especially knowledge workers – want to be excited about the mission of the company, team values, growth potential, and their own potential for making an impact.

Start the Conversation

Now more than ever, it’s mission critical to build world-class employee experiences for remote and hybrid teams.
 

You can set up a meeting.
Or drop us a line below.

Simillar Articles