Some hiring managers pay minimal attention to how they craft their online job posts. Many rely on templates, standardized HR job descriptions or use administrative staff or interns to create the ad. As a result, their job postings are not optimized, and qualified candidates may never see, much less apply, to their open positions.
Perhaps poor job postings are one of the reasons why the average conversion rate of career website visitors into applicants stands at an unimpressive 8.59 percent.
Don’t let your job post be a bad statistic. Craft your online job postings so that they’re found by the top candidates and stand apart from other posts.
In this article, we discuss five common job advertising mistakes and provide tips to fix or prevent each.
Mistake # 1. Posting an Inappropriate Job Title
Instead of coming up with unusual job titles, such as “Support Ninja,” take time to research keywords relevant to the job you’re posting. You can add quirky details in the job description, but leave the job title common enough to attract the most applicants.
For example, in the job description you might say, “We don’t think of you as a social media wonk, we think of you as a social media superstar!” But let the job title say “Social Media Manager.”
For example, let’s say your company is looking for an entry-level web developer who predominantly uses Java as a programming language. Here’s how you can come up with a keyword-rich job title that attracts the right applicants:
Keywords: Web Developer
Seniority level: Junior or Entry Level
Example Job Title: Java Web Developer, Entry Level
Some job posting sites will suggest job titles when you post your job. For example, when posting a job on Indeed, you can use their job trends tool to find out which are the most relevant, popular job titles for the job you’re posting.
All of this information can help you create the best job title possible for your role so that it gets picked up by the Indeed organic search.
Screenshot from Indeed, showing Office Manager in Orange vs Front Office Manager in Blue
Mistake # 2. Writing a Boring Job Description
A common mistake hiring managers make when writing an online job post is to put every little job description detail into the job post. While you can create a quick cut-and-paste job post using this approach, it might take you significantly longer to find a qualified candidate, because frankly, most job seekers don’t read past the first page or screen.
The job description needs to provide information on the duties and responsibilities that come with the position succinctly. The job description needs to provide some insight into the culture, people, teams and challenges that the applicant might work with.
Like any other advertisement, your job ad must be clear, concise and compelling.
Here are six tips to replace the boring job description with one job seekers might act on:
- Use bold headings and short bulleted statements to make your job post easy to read.
- Describe the most vital components of the job. Examples: “Use tools like SEMRush, Google AdWords and MOZ to increase traffic to our website” or “Your RN certification is just what we need to provide top medical care to our patients.”
- State what the candidate will love about the job. Examples: “You’ll drive our SEO strategy” or “You’ll help patients feel good about themselves as they heal.”
- Suggest how the position will help the company succeed. “You’re key to our future organic traffic growth” or “We’re working to be the top-rated hospital facility in town.”
- Paint a picture of the typical workday: “You’ll work in our Manhattan office with a diverse team -- wearing casual attire” or “You’ll be part of a health care team of 5-6 experts providing coordinated care.”
- Reuse the keywords a few times within the job description to increase the chance your job will pop to the top of the job seeker’s search results.
A job post example from LinkedIn is provided below for an RN position. Notice how it emphasizes the work/team environment?
Sample RN job advertisement. Source: LinkedIn
Mistake # 3. Use of Jargon & Vague Language
A survey conducted by Monster reveals that 75 percent of job seekers regularly notice jargon, vague language or acronyms while searching for a job. The poll also shows that nearly 6 out of 10 job seekers put off applying to job posts with company-specific jargon or acronyms. This tells us that candidates are repelled by language that they don’t understand.
Unfortunately, many job posts use company-specific jargon or vague language in their job posts such as “Update UFOC Documentation” or “Part of NI Team.” Here’s an example below from a technical job ad which makes it completely unclear what the candidate will do or what the job entails.
Vague job description with jargon. Source: LinkedIn
Industry-related language is fine if you’re seeking an expert in the field (e.g. using the word SEO if you’re looking for an online marketing specialist) or need to verify someone has experience using a specific software tool. However, if you post a company-specific or rarely-used acronym, there’s a chance that the job seeker will be confused. It will not be clear to them whether they’re qualified for the job opening or not.
Even if a job is highly technical in nature, strive to use words that are easy to understand. For example, you could say “Must be able to use standard office software for email, documents, spreadsheets and presentations”, instead of saying “Experienced with G-Suite Apps’.
Use numbers or adjectives to clearly define requirements such as the number of years experience you want. So instead of "management experience," consider saying, "requires 5 years direct management experience of retail/food service staff." Instead of “productive worker”, say “able to close 10 sales leads each week.”
Mistake # 4. Failure to Market Your Company
Many job advertisements focus so much on the job qualifications and description that they forget to market the company itself! Gone are the days when job seekers are willing to apply to a company they know nothing about.
Candidates want to see more than the usual company name, location and industry. They want to get a feel for the company vision, direction and culture and have a sense of what it’s like to work there.
If you want the best talent, you have to give candidates a good reason why they should work for you instead of your competitors. Talented and qualified job seekers may have multiple options to choose from. According to recent research, candidates want to see company information such as:
- Basic company details like when it was established and what it produces
- Information on compensation, benefits and growth opportunities
- Details on what makes the company an attractive place to work
- Company mission, vision, values
- Information on whether current/prior employees liked working there
Mistake # 5. Leaving Out Salary Information
Some companies leave salary information out of the job description. They probably think that withholding salary information is an effective technique to increase job applications or perhaps want to leave the door open for negotiation. However, almost 4 out 10 job seekers are irritated when salary details are not available. You might be earning the ire of topnotch talent by leaving out salary information.
Provide a salary range that shows what your company is willing to pay for the position. A range is useful as it acts as a barometer on the quality of talent that you’ll get for the price, and it shows that you’re willing to pay more (top of range) depending on the skills and experience of the applicant. It also doesn’t box you into a specific number, so you do have room to negotiate later. Job posting sites like Indeed and ZipRecruiter provide you with tools to determine a pay range based on jobs with the same/similar titles.
Sample salary range for job posted on ZipRecruiter
If the range is below market value, you will most likely attract fewer or less qualified applicants. On the other hand, if the range is competitive, you will attract quality job seekers which should give you a healthy pool of applicants to choose from.
Many companies make the mistake of not optimizing their online job posts. They post inappropriate titles, boring job details, fail to market themselves and leave out salary information. These job posting mistakes make it less likely that job seekers will apply, forcing employers to have to pay additional advertising fees to boost their job post, or worse, accept less than stellar job applicants.
Resolve these issues by coming up with relevant job titles, clear and compelling job descriptions, interesting information about your company, and providing a competitive salary range.