14 Ways Employers Can Master The Job Listing And Attract The Right People

Post written by

Expert Panel, Forbes Human Resources Council

Successful HR executives from Forbes Human Resources Council offer leadership and management insights.

For many potential employees, the job listing is the first point of contact they have with a company. Through a general job search, they may have stumbled across your posting, and now you have to impress them—in an extremely short amount of time.

So how can a business introduce themselves to the candidate, explain what the job entails and be original enough to pique their interest? To help answer this question, we consulted with 14 experts from Forbes Human Resources Council and asked for their best advice on crafting a job listing that is informational, yet exciting enough to encourage job seekers to apply.

Photos courtesy of the individual members.

1. Be Real

Our company has many roles that can be hard to hire for, but we are able to attract talent by laying out the realities of the role. We cut the jargon, we don't fluff up our culture, we try to give you a day-to-day look, as well as overall goals of the role—and we always list what the candidate can expect in return for their work. Being simple has helped cut through to what matters to candidates. - Kelly Loudermilk, Academic Impressions

2. Start With The Job Title

Many great job postings are often ignored or attract the wrong candidate pool because the job title doesn’t accurately reflect what the person does. Avoid generic internal job titles. Instead create external job titles that reflect what the role does. Measure the effectiveness of alternative job titles by A/B testing which job title generates the desired quality and quantity of candidates. - Bridgette Wilder, Wilder HR Management & EEO Consulting

Forbes Human Resources Council is an invitation-only organization for HR executives across all industries. Do I qualify?

3. Keep It Simple And Transparent

The best job postings are simple and clearly worded, and they thoroughly explain the position and how it contributes to the company's success. Also, I believe the company should include the starting salary range in the description. While there may be some reluctance to this, it shows job candidates that the organization is transparent and willing to pay what the position is worth. - Cameron Bishop, SkillPath

4. Customize For The Job Profile

Job listings should not be job descriptions. They should tell a story and evoke an emotional reaction in a candidate. The best way to accomplish this is to use the words associated with the specific job profile that is part of a behavioral assessment. If you are looking for someone with an assertive personality, use words like "drive," "push," "reform," and not words like "collaborate" or "engage." - Sherrie Suski, Tricon American Homes

5. Tell The Story Of The Role

Often, how a job is described differs from how a job description is written. Aligning these will be more enticing than a company that posts a job description or, worse, a list of requirements. You can talk about what this role impacts and the future plans for the role or the company. Candidates love understanding their role in the bigger picture and company purpose has never been more important. - Karla Reffold, BeecherMadden

6. Showcase The Employee Experience

Prospective employees shop for jobs with a more consumer-driven lens than ever before. They want to know what the experience of working at your organization will look like. Beyond the functional aspects of the job, candidates want to know what your employer value proposition is and how their professional quality of life will improve. - Cat Graham, Cheer Partners

7. Share The Problem That Needs To Be Solved

The No. 1 thing that attracts the top candidates is sharing the problem that they would get to solve if they joined the company. Great employees solve problems, so great candidates are attracted by the prospect of solving problems. - Taylor Cotterell, NaviTrust

8. Be Creative

Make them unique. Your company is unique and you've spent a lot of time building your culture. Let it show in the way you attract candidates to your organization. This is not only a mechanism for telling them about you and your expectations—it is also a time to market. Companies that can combine the basics and a spark of fun to postings tend to catch the attention of the passive candidate. - Tracy Bittner, SPHR, Physician Partners LLC

9. Know Your Audience

The key to attract the applicable candidate is to understand your business and your consumer. Why? Because it is more likely that a consumer of your product or service probably would like to work in your business. A well-written, effective job listing tells a story. Naturally, include the functions, but skillfully write the listing as if you are selling your job to your perfect candidate. - Patricia Sharkey, Sharkey HR Advisors

10. Show How The Role Will Benefit The Employee

Job ads should include the typical info—company description, job responsibilities, required qualifications, etc. One area in which employers often fall short is by focusing on what applicants should do for them as opposed to what they can do for applicants. Great candidates have a variety of options, and employers should give them a reason to want to work for them beyond just a paycheck. - John Feldmann, Insperity

11. Illustrate The Culture Through Your Values

Use your values to give a realistic preview of what’s expected in your organization from a behavioral perspective. Translate each value into the specific behaviors that you expect employees, managers and leaders to demonstrate. This will help candidates understand who they'll be working with and what will be expected of them. - Laura Hamill, Limeade

12. Shoot A Brief Video

A first-person video job description is a great way to engage, inform and attract talent. Have the hiring manager or hiring team shoot a short video on their cellphone to showcase the role, responsibilities and the team culture, with a bit of humor, and voila—lots of applicants who want to learn more! - Danielle Monaghan, Uber

13. Keep It Short

The shorter the better, as most people spend 45 seconds or less looking at a job posting. It needs to be able to multitask: describe the company, the role, the criteria to succeed and why they should apply. This is a lot to get done in a short period of time. Get your posting down to 500 words or less, embrace that each word is precious real estate and choose them wisely. - Bianca McCann, Trifacta Inc.

14. Have A Call-To-Action

As with any branding or marketing effort, applying a powerful call-to-action message can help convert potential candidates into loyal employees. One approach I've found successful is listing positive points about the organization, why the work matters and then finish with the call-to-action message of applying before the opportunity passes them by. Implied scarcity emboldens people to take action. - Dr. Timothy J. Giardino, Cantata Health & Meta Healthcare IT Solutions

">

For many potential employees, the job listing is the first point of contact they have with a company. Through a general job search, they may have stumbled across your posting, and now you have to impress them—in an extremely short amount of time.

So how can a business introduce themselves to the candidate, explain what the job entails and be original enough to pique their interest? To help answer this question, we consulted with 14 experts from Forbes Human Resources Council and asked for their best advice on crafting a job listing that is informational, yet exciting enough to encourage job seekers to apply.

Photos courtesy of the individual members.

1. Be Real

Our company has many roles that can be hard to hire for, but we are able to attract talent by laying out the realities of the role. We cut the jargon, we don't fluff up our culture, we try to give you a day-to-day look, as well as overall goals of the role—and we always list what the candidate can expect in return for their work. Being simple has helped cut through to what matters to candidates. - Kelly Loudermilk, Academic Impressions

2. Start With The Job Title

Many great job postings are often ignored or attract the wrong candidate pool because the job title doesn’t accurately reflect what the person does. Avoid generic internal job titles. Instead create external job titles that reflect what the role does. Measure the effectiveness of alternative job titles by A/B testing which job title generates the desired quality and quantity of candidates. - Bridgette Wilder, Wilder HR Management & EEO Consulting

Forbes Human Resources Council is an invitation-only organization for HR executives across all industries. Do I qualify?

3. Keep It Simple And Transparent

The best job postings are simple and clearly worded, and they thoroughly explain the position and how it contributes to the company's success. Also, I believe the company should include the starting salary range in the description. While there may be some reluctance to this, it shows job candidates that the organization is transparent and willing to pay what the position is worth. - Cameron Bishop, SkillPath

4. Customize For The Job Profile

Job listings should not be job descriptions. They should tell a story and evoke an emotional reaction in a candidate. The best way to accomplish this is to use the words associated with the specific job profile that is part of a behavioral assessment. If you are looking for someone with an assertive personality, use words like "drive," "push," "reform," and not words like "collaborate" or "engage." - Sherrie Suski, Tricon American Homes

5. Tell The Story Of The Role

Often, how a job is described differs from how a job description is written. Aligning these will be more enticing than a company that posts a job description or, worse, a list of requirements. You can talk about what this role impacts and the future plans for the role or the company. Candidates love understanding their role in the bigger picture and company purpose has never been more important. - Karla Reffold, BeecherMadden

6. Showcase The Employee Experience

Prospective employees shop for jobs with a more consumer-driven lens than ever before. They want to know what the experience of working at your organization will look like. Beyond the functional aspects of the job, candidates want to know what your employer value proposition is and how their professional quality of life will improve. - Cat Graham, Cheer Partners

7. Share The Problem That Needs To Be Solved

The No. 1 thing that attracts the top candidates is sharing the problem that they would get to solve if they joined the company. Great employees solve problems, so great candidates are attracted by the prospect of solving problems. - Taylor Cotterell, NaviTrust

8. Be Creative

Make them unique. Your company is unique and you've spent a lot of time building your culture. Let it show in the way you attract candidates to your organization. This is not only a mechanism for telling them about you and your expectations—it is also a time to market. Companies that can combine the basics and a spark of fun to postings tend to catch the attention of the passive candidate. - Tracy Bittner, SPHR, Physician Partners LLC

9. Know Your Audience

The key to attract the applicable candidate is to understand your business and your consumer. Why? Because it is more likely that a consumer of your product or service probably would like to work in your business. A well-written, effective job listing tells a story. Naturally, include the functions, but skillfully write the listing as if you are selling your job to your perfect candidate. - Patricia Sharkey, Sharkey HR Advisors

10. Show How The Role Will Benefit The Employee

Job ads should include the typical info—company description, job responsibilities, required qualifications, etc. One area in which employers often fall short is by focusing on what applicants should do for them as opposed to what they can do for applicants. Great candidates have a variety of options, and employers should give them a reason to want to work for them beyond just a paycheck. - John Feldmann, Insperity

11. Illustrate The Culture Through Your Values

Use your values to give a realistic preview of what’s expected in your organization from a behavioral perspective. Translate each value into the specific behaviors that you expect employees, managers and leaders to demonstrate. This will help candidates understand who they'll be working with and what will be expected of them. - Laura Hamill, Limeade

12. Shoot A Brief Video

A first-person video job description is a great way to engage, inform and attract talent. Have the hiring manager or hiring team shoot a short video on their cellphone to showcase the role, responsibilities and the team culture, with a bit of humor, and voila—lots of applicants who want to learn more! - Danielle Monaghan, Uber

13. Keep It Short

The shorter the better, as most people spend 45 seconds or less looking at a job posting. It needs to be able to multitask: describe the company, the role, the criteria to succeed and why they should apply. This is a lot to get done in a short period of time. Get your posting down to 500 words or less, embrace that each word is precious real estate and choose them wisely. - Bianca McCann, Trifacta Inc.

14. Have A Call-To-Action

As with any branding or marketing effort, applying a powerful call-to-action message can help convert potential candidates into loyal employees. One approach I've found successful is listing positive points about the organization, why the work matters and then finish with the call-to-action message of applying before the opportunity passes them by. Implied scarcity emboldens people to take action. - Dr. Timothy J. Giardino, Cantata Health & Meta Healthcare IT Solutions

Forbes Human Resources Council is an invitation-only, fee-based organization for senior-level human resources executives across all industries. Find out if you qualify a...