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4 Questions Your Job Posting Must Answer for Potential Candidates

4 Questions Your Job Posting Must Answer for Potential Candidates

There are different philosophies in the HR and recruiting community about how to write job postings. Should you be as realistic as possible, or strive to make the position sound more enticing? Should you be totally transparent or withhold some information so you have more to discuss at the interview?

Tim Sackett knows a thing or two about writing job postings, and he’s firmly in the transparency camp. “The best talent will want to know everything, and if they don’t know, they’re more likely to just skip the ad and skip you in the process. They’re not desperate enough to have to reach out for more information, so you put yourself in a position to miss the best of the best,” says Sackett, the president of HRU Technical Resources, a national engineering and IT supplemental staffing firm based in Lansing, Michigan.

Sackett is such a fan of transparency that he shared a few questions every quality candidate will expect a job posting to answer. Here’s what he recommends.

What Qualifications Are Required?

Your listing should include the qualifications required for the position. If it doesn’t and you end up hiring someone who doesn’t quite meet your standards, then you’ve done both your organization and this person a disservice, Sackett says.

That said, only include qualifications that are really relevant to the position. “Only about 20 percent of the jobs we hire for actually need formal education. That means roughly 80 percent are jobs we can train someone in-house to be great at. Adding too many unrealistic qualifications will needlessly eliminate great talent out of your talent pool,” he says.

What Does This Position Actually Do?

At some organizations the HR manager is in charge of payroll, while others have separate payroll managers. Some companies hire for sales managers and some want sales ninjas. If you just list a title, it can be very difficult for a candidate to decide whether to apply.

There’s a lot of variability in titles from company to company, Sackett says. “Adding some job summary information helps the candidate decide if this is really the job they want and can be successful at,” he says.

But when you’re writing that job summary, Sackett strongly cautions against simply cutting and pasting your formal job description. Be realistic, but not dry. “It’s an advertisement, not a legal document,” he says.

Where Is This Position Located?

The vast majority of people writing job ads are hiring for local positions, but that’s not always the case and you can’t assume someone reading your ad will know that. You can’t even assume what “local” means for the reader.

“Eighty percent of hourly workers will choose a position within five miles of home,” Sackett says. “So you can say the position is in Chicago, but Chicago is 60 miles from one end to the other. You really need to get more specific with the location for most talent to be interested,” he says.

Your company may have multiple locations in one city or state. You may be hiring someone who will work in London, or someone in London who wants to move to your town. Being as specific as possible will let applicants self-select if the commute doesn’t make sense for them or if they aren’t interested in a particular location.

What Does It Pay?

This one is controversial, but Sackett says it’s proven to work. He likes to do A/B testing on his job ads from time to time to find out what gets him greater quality and quantity of applicants; based on this testing he now puts pay in the title of each ad. “What I find is the more information I can give, the better quality and traffic I get on the posting as compared to one I give less. When I include salary or hourly rate, this single change drives more applicant traffic than anything else,” he says.

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