Hire Right, Part II – Writing a Great Job Listing
Note: This is the second in our Hire Right series, showing candidates and employers the process of finding the best employees.
Hiring right means knowing whom and what you’re looking for. How do you approach writing an effective job listing?
Unfortunately, not all of the employees I’ve had in four decades of running businesses have stayed with me. I have occasionally had to look for new team members. OK, I’ve done it fairly often. Come on, it’s been 40 years!
Any disruption to the status quo should be viewed as an opportunity to improve. This includes finding the best candidates for an open or new position, which of course leads to finding not just the best employees, but the right employees for your company culture.
The process begins with writing job listings, an occasionally tedious exercise but one that is crucial to the future of your company and that should be treated with care and reverence. Describing the expectations, goals and growth potential for the job is just as important as detailing the duties, requirements, and salary.
Here are five tips for writing great job listings that attract great candidates:
1. Strike the right tone
If you’re filling a creative position, the listing should reflect the traits you’re looking for from your future employee – make it fun, light, and inspiring to the imagination. Inversely, listings for more consequential jobs – let’s say an airline pilot – should state the benefits and necessary credentials a bit more directly. A job post should never be boring, but there is room for variance in tone depending on the job itself.
2. Be specific
Looking for, finding, and starting a new job are life-changing events for everyone who experiences them. Most often, prospective employees are searching for positions that cater to their best and most distinct professional characteristics. Help define those traits with specific descriptions about the position – who the person will report to, responsibilities and requirements, a 30-day plan, and goals for the year ahead. Precise detail will help you better understand who and what you’re looking for and reduce uncertainty among those who apply.
3. Describe yourself
Job seekers want to find a place to fit in and be valued and appreciated. A positive company culture goes a long way with potential employees, and you can convey the perks of your place within your job listing. Paint a picture of what it’s like to work for your business and describe some personality traits shared by the most successful team members. People want to feel like they’re part of something important, and if you show them a nurturing environment, you’ll have no shortage of amazing candidates.
4. Make it readable
It’s a job listing, not the next great American novel. Use everyday language and don’t get too technical unless the listing requires advanced industry terminology. If the market is competitive (or even if it’s not), you’ll catch more attention with words people understand rather than a long list of required tasks and skills that are company-specific and meaningless to applicants. Save that for the job interview or onboarding process. You can be thorough and eye-catching without being wordy.
5. Be open to change
Maybe your last job listing led to the hiring of a less-than-ideal employee who never quite fit in with the rest of your team. When preparing a post for that job the next time, think about the little things that may have helped prevent your mistake. Hiring the wrong person happens to every employer, but instead of brushing it off as a random instance of bad luck, find ways to improve the process. That can and should begin with the job listing.
With decades of experience, I’ve become an expert in describing the job I’m filling and the type of person I hope to fill it. I don’t have a perfect batting average in hiring, but I know the best practices for attracting bright, eager, intelligent workers. Writing job postings can be difficult, repetitive, and burdensome. Finding the right person for the job makes it worth the trouble.
Do you know any more tips to writing a great job listing? Has one of your listings resulted in the hiring of a fantastic employee? Share your comments below.