Not many people think of them in these terms, but job listings are actually important pieces of employer branding. Yes, they often (though not always) reach candidates who have already moved passed the awareness stage of the candidate journey, but they also represent an important crossroads at which potential candidates decide whether or not to apply, largely based on their perception of your business and the value they would derive from working there. For this reason, crafting your job postings shouldn’t just be a matter of parroting out an internal job requisition. Rather, it should be a carefully constructed piece of branding.
1. Highlight Your EVP
The first thing that any prospective applicants will be thinking when they first encounter one of your job descriptions is, “why should I consider working here?” It’s your job to answer that question clearly and concisely. What makes your work environment unique? What mission drives your company? What sorts of new opportunities can your prospective employees look forward to? Answers to these questions should be front and center, so that readers who mesh with company culture and values will know it right away and will be excited to send an application. If you offer flexible hours and the chance to work from home, or conference budgets and continuing education opportunities, let people know! Since your employee value proposition (EVP) should already be a major component of your employer brand, it stands to reason that it would be equally important in this context.
2. Think About Your Employee Personas
Okay, you’ve given readers a sense of how they might derive value from working with you, but how do you go about giving a sense of the job itself and the duties that it involves? The trick here is to think not just about the job itself, but your ideal candidate for the job. How much experience does she have? What particular skills? How does she fit into your company’s existing culture? These traits will highlight more specifically the nature of the job and how you expect that role to gel with existing teams and business functions. That said, you should draw a clear demarcation between true requirements for performing the work involved and the ideal traits that you imagine a worker in that particular position to have. Without a clear delineation between those two things, you risk losing out on applicants who won’t apply because they think they don’t meet your qualifications—even when they have all the necessary skills to perform the job’s day-to-day functions. After all, your employee personas are useful tools, but they’re not the be-all and end-all of what a perfect fit can look like.
3. Be Honest
We were already skating around this point in the last step, but it’s important enough to warrant its own section. Be honest about the position you’re hiring for and about the value that you can provide as a company. If your company isn’t able to offer lots of growth opportunities, or a hi-tech office space, don’t pretend that you can. Any qualified candidates who reach the interview stages will see the reality of your business and your work environment before long, and if they feel like they’ve been misled they’ll likely be much less interested in working with your company. Honesty doesn’t mean that you have to undersell yourself or offer an overly-pessimistic account of what you’re offering candidates expect businesses to display themselves in their best light), but it does mean being sure that you can deliver on all of your promises and back up all of your claims. If you’re not sure whether you job ad meets that criterion, try passing it along to a coworker and asking him or her whether it seems to tell an accurate story about the company and its culture.
4. Include Your Company Name and Information
Some folks will encounter your job ad on your careers page, in which case it’s probably a safe bet that they’ve heard of your business and have at least some existing associations about your employer brand. For those that encounter your listing on a third-party job platform like Indeed, however, you can’t make the same assumptions. And yet, plenty of businesses fail to include this sort of information, hoping that the job ad will be so enticing that applicants won’t care what company it’s attached to. While job ads are certainly important, and they can certainly convince some candidates to apply at first brush, they are, again, part of your larger employer branding efforts. As such, they should be integrated with the rest of those efforts. A good starting place? Making sure people know which brand to associate your listing with. Not only will this increase potential candidates’ level of trust, it will also develop positive brand associations for those who ultimately decide not to apply for the position—meaning that their odds of applying in the future will go up drastically.
5. Give a Clear Call-to-Action
Okay, let’s say you’ve successfully conveyed your EVP and described your perfect candidate (while still leaving room for unexpected fits). You’ve done all of this in a way that ties into your employer brand without making promises that you can’t keep. It’s time for your ad to come to a close, and (hopefully) let the applications flood in! Do you give a whole slew of ways to get in touch, including e-mail addresses, links to online applications, Twitter handles, and LinkedIn profiles? Definitely not! Instead, you should give one clear, straightforward call to action. If the post is on your own career site, you might redirect users to your online application. If the posting is on a third party site, you might do the same, or you might offer a single e-mail address with clear instructions about what to send over (cover letter, CV, a particular subject line, etc.). This way, no one gets decision paralysis, and no one finds themselves confused about how to proceed. This way, your perfect job posting will translate into a steady stream of applications and a real strengthening of both your talent pipeline and your employer brand.