6 steps on how to write a great job posting

Learning to write a great job posting can do a lot for your small business. A well-crafted posting can help attract the right candidates and streamline your hiring process. Most importantly, it can give you a better chance of hiring the right person for the job.

The good news is there are simple tactics that can lead to attracting better applicants—and making much better hires.

In my role in Recruitment Marketing at Progressive Insurance, I spend a lot of time focused on making sure our job postings hit the mark. A lot of people think of Flo when they hear the Progressive name. That’s great—we love Flo. But there’s plenty more to working at Progressive, and we want to make that crystal clear when we’re trying to recruit top talent.

The lessons I’ve learned can be useful to a small business owner, particularly those who don’t hire frequently. Taking time to get a job posting right should save you time and money in the long run. Here are my six simple steps to making it happen.

1. Have a plan before you start writing your job post

Before you start writing, outline the key elements of your posting. This will help ensure you strike the right balance between sharing enough relevant information to attract great candidates and rambling to the point of chasing them away. Postings that run longer than 2,000 characters tend to perform much worse than postings in the 700-to-1,000-characters sweet spot.

2. Get right to the point with your job title

There is a growing trend to try to be clever when crafting a job title. While titles like “social media ninja” or “sales guru” might sound edgy, they typically don’t help your recruitment efforts. Those phrases don’t perform well with online search and they could turn off some good candidates who might have found and applied to a job with a more straightforward job title. A better path: Describe the role as succinctly and accurately as possible, while avoiding industry jargon.

Also, it’s good to follow search best practices when crafting job titles for optimal viewing. For the job title to show up best on a desktop computer screen, you want to aim for less than 60 characters. For mobile devices—used by more than half of job seekers—you’re looking at 35 characters or less. You also want to avoid leading with location. So, instead of “Looking for a Logan, Utah area retail manager” you’re much better off with simply “Retail manager.”

3. Make sure your job description speaks to great candidates

The first paragraph of your posting is crucial. Lead by highlighting the primary focus of the role while also describing what an ideal candidate would bring to that specific job. Then pivot to sharing some relevant insights about your company aimed at attracting people whose values and interests align with yours. For instance, emphasizing that you’re a family-oriented company will likely resonate with certain candidates, while describing your workplace as fast-paced and growth-focused will appeal to different prospects. Talking to current employees about what they like about working for your company can capture the strengths of your culture to provide a candid and compelling snapshot of what your company is all about.

4. Be clear and concise about job responsibilities

When it comes to job responsibilities, list those key duties and activities associated with the job as clearly as possible. Try focusing on the primary responsibilities that are involved with the job. You can discuss any secondary activities during an interview. Also, if the position may evolve over time, it might be a good idea to state that in this section. This helps open the door to further conversations during the interview that there is growth potential to move up within the company.

5. Don’t overdo it on qualifications

An exhaustive list of qualifications can be a turn-off to job hunters. Think carefully about key skills, knowledge, and experience that are absolutely essential to be successful on day one, and then use those as your qualifications. You can always discuss more detailed qualifications during an interview, at which time you can also get a sense of a candidate’s willingness and aptitude for learning new skills that might be useful over time. You want to avoid deterring a promising candidate from applying because they don’t think they are fully qualified.

6. Close with an honest sales pitch

A great way to wrap up a job posting is by emphasizing what’s in it for your potential hire. Share what’s great about working for your business, including any positive information regarding compensation, and healthcare and retirement benefits. Also highlight anything unique that is valued by current employees such as flexible working hours, free gym memberships, or community involvement. I know of one company that offers each employee 40 paid hours every year for community service. Emphasizing that in their job postings shows their commitment to the community and connects with candidates looking for more than just a paycheck.

Once your job posting is complete make sure to give it a good edit—typos are always a turn-off in the hiring process whether they’re on a resume or in a job description. Also, double-check that your posting doesn’t inadvertently include language or phrasing that might turn off certain candidates. There are a range of online tools that can quickly evaluate writing to detect gender and other biases. If something gets flagged, you can easily revise the wording to be more inclusive.

No doubt, creating a great job posting might take a little bit more time up front. But it will be time very well spent. You stand a much better chance of attracting the right candidates and hiring employees that will add real value to your company. That’s true here at Progressive. And it can be true for your small business.

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