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How to write a job posting to attract the right people

Written 23 July, 2018, 4 minutes to read

Recruitment will never be fun, but there are ways to make it more bearable – starting with only attracting the right candidates. They are motivated, know what they want and are looking to invest for the long-term. But how do you reach them? Having recently welcomed 10 such people to the Timely team, we’ve learned a thing or two. Here are some our most useful pointers on how to write a job posting that really pops:

Start with a clean structure

Most job postings follow this set structure:

  • Introduce the role
  • Explain who you are
  • List main responsibilities
  • List required skills
  • Sell benefits and culture

And it’s for pretty good reason – it organizes information in a easy-to-scan, logical flow that prioritizes what they need to know. Don’t mess with the basics.

Use a job title people can find

Keep it simple – research the keywords used on the main job posting sites your best candidate is likely to use, and try and target the most popular. You can qualify it with a specific adjective to make your search more focused, but avoid anything fanciful or gimmicky.

Lead with enthusiasm

This is your one shot at hooking your candidate’s interest, so don't start on a flat note. Introduce the role with enthusiasm, providing context as to why you’re hiring and what your company is looking to do next. Be clear on exactly what their contribution will mean to your wider objectives. This kind of honesty and insight communicates that you value transparency and trust from the outset.

Set the scene

Help your candidate visualize the role – what will a normal day look like? What kind of tasks will they do? What kind of person are you looking for? Add anything that can help the candidate place themselves against your requirements. Where possible, provide examples of relevant projects you’ve been working on that they might deal with. The more open you are, the better.

Explain why the role matters

People want more than just to fulfil a few pre-defined tasks in a role that’s been fully scoped out before they’ve even arrived. Think about why the role matters – what does it mean for them? Where do they fit into the wider company? How can they grow inside the role? How will you support their development?

Write for mobile

People no longer read job postings on desktop alone. Make sure your advert is formatted and structured well for mobile devices. Think about section length, format and spacing and use bulleted lists where possible, keeping text short and concise. Edit hard and often.

Only list essential responsibilities

This goes with the above – keep your job advert as short as possible, limiting yourself only to the most essential requirements for the role. It keeps the most important features of the position clear and stops the candidate from being overwhelmed by a minutiae of detail. Or worse still, feeling there is no room to be creative or grow in the role, since you have already scoped out their entire professional existence with you.

Be specific about requirements

The more specific you are about baseline qualifications and experience, the less processing you’ll need to do for unqualified candidates. State the number of years’ experience required, the types of project they need to have worked on and the tools they should have already mastered. Then make it mandatory for them to confirm they meet these requirements before they can submit their application – it’s a valuable second line of defence for your inbox.

Speak like a (normal) human being

Speak directly to your reader using second person: “we” and “you”. Leave out jargon phrases, acronyms and dumb buzzwords. You’re talking to a specialist who almost certainly has no “ninja” training. “Fun” clichés like this just insult people's intelligence: it’s sickly, embarrassing and dates fast.

Sell what’s unique about the company

Think about what’s uniquely special or attractive to applicants. Can people work remotely wherever they like? Do you have an absolutely beautiful office with state-of-the-art equipment? Are you based in a super cool city (shout out to Oslo!)? What do your colleagues really love about their work lifestyle?

Whatever you do, don’t talk about your beer fridge – people want substance, not surface shine.

Show you’re serious

Ask for links to your candidate's work (if available) and consider adding a short application question. It could be conceptual, technical or motivational – anything that makes people think, engage with your advert and show they are actually serious about applying.

Remember!

You are hiring a person, not a skillset – you want the person you hire to stay, enrich you company culture, help direct your future success, support and expand your ideas, and spread your message. Read everything back and ask whether your job posting would really convince you to apply.

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