The way you write your job posting can be a game-winning move to hire the right peopl. Photo credit: Pixabay.
Unless you're passive job searcher, chances are that you enter your job hunting process under a little bit of pressure. Searching for a new job can be a lot like a full time job, so squeezing it in with your life - and your day job, if you still have it - can drain you.
You're searching furiously with several tabs open on your laptop. Your phone is going off too, maybe, because you're tapping your network to see if people you know can hook you up to open positions. As you go through each job, you're skimming. If the job title was enough to attract you, you're going through and making sure that you have the skillset it's asking for and can perform the associated responsibilities. Maybe the last thing you read are the benefits or the small paragraph about company culture.
If you want to hire a good candidate's attention, you need to catch it fast.
If you're a hiring manager, you've realized that this sounds a lot like the way that you break down a CV. With a huge volume to read, you get used to breaking it down and picking out parts that stick out to you. If a CV can't meet those requirements in a few minutes, you move on, especially if you know that there are likely better options elsewhere.
Candidates do the same thing, because they know that until a certain point, volume of queries and applications sent out means a better chance for success - and increases the chance for multiple offers. If you want a good candidate's attention, you need to catch it fast. The good news is that you can accomplish this by being the right combination of informative, concise, and creative in the job posting.
Here's how to write winning job descriptions and hire the right people.
Say what you need
I once read the most captivating and enchanting job description, but I didn't apply for the job. Why? It piqued my interest but didn't answer any of my questions. I didn't know if I was skilled. I didn't even really know what the posting was asking for.
Start with your bare essentials. There should be part of the post that describes the job responsibilities - the more concise, the better. Be as specific as possible and stay away from vague descriptions like “collaborate with team" (though there can be an “Other duties as assigned" clause - startups are not always so structured).
In a separate section, describe the skillset required to perform the job - programming languages required, spoken language proficiency, if travel will be required. You can list your ideal number of years of experience as well.
The rest of this post will deal with spicing up your posting to be as engaging as possible. However, this basic step is crucial - without listing these elements, you risk candidates applying without knowing if they're truly qualified or not, which makes more work for you. Or, you look unprofessional as a company.
Say what you want
“Wait, but didn't you just say--?"
Hear me out.
If you list out seven tasks and seven skills that engineers need to perform well in your job opening, chances are all of those tasks are not going to be of the same importance. Say you lay out seven responsibilities, but the first two are done most often, while the last five are done less often and are not deal-breakers.
Put those last five in a different category, labeled with an adjective or phrase like “strongly recommended" or “preferable." Otherwise, you risk losing time when engineers who mostly possess the less-necessary tasks apply for the position but can't truly give you what you need.
Try to stick to two or three necessary tasks and skills in each section, and set the other tasks and skills apart in their own categories. This will help you to hire the perfect fit for that specific position.
Write in second person
The difference between an average coding job and a coveted coding job, once you get past the bare essentials, is culture and fit. How much can applicants see themselves working there? How exciting is the work they'll be doing? Will they make an impact or be part of something larger than themselves? Where is the value-add outside of the tech position?
A great way to immediately get your candidate to picture themselves working with you and your colleagues is to write in second person. For example:
The candidate will be working both individually and on a small team.
immediately has a different feel than
You will be working both individually and on a small team.
Ask, don't tell
You can also pose certain parts of the job description as a question, ideally ones where the candidate is left wanting to answer “Yes!" For example:
Do you dream of engineering the next logistics solution? Would you like to work on a product that is affecting hundreds of thousands of people and growing every day?
Asking and giving a chance for an answer - even a rhetorical one - can open up the candidate to opportunities. After reading several job postings dictating what employers want, one that seeks out what the candidate wants can seem like a more refreshing change than you'd think.
Just remember to be truthful - lying in the job description isn't going to get you candidates that stay long-term.
Tell a story - but don't take too long
There are a lot of different ways to accomplish this, in addition to following the steps above. Give yourself one short paragraph - two max - to talk add a little bit of context or story to what you've already written. Maybe it's the company description that tells the story of how the startup went from nothing to significance in eight months. Maybe it's a paragraph about some of the benefits or key aspects of office culture you want the candidate to see.
Either way, look at what you've written already and add some dimension that'll make candidates hit “apply now."
Leave them wanting more
Start strong and finish strong. You've already drawn your candidate in with a good question or statement that appeals to a non-technical quality you want to see in the workplace, so here's your chance to call your future employee to action.
You can pose this as a friendly challenge: “Think you've got what it takes? Apply now."
You can pose this as an appeal to enthusiasm: “Are you ready to change the way you work and develop? We'd love to meet you."
Whatever you end with, make sure that it's something that makes that leaves candidates feeling good, open to opportunity, and happy to send you their CVs.
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