How to Create a Good Job Listing

How to Create a Good Job Listing

So, you have an open position in Alaska and you want to post the job to a local job board, and possibly take out a display or classified ad in the local newspaper.

You’d like to post the listing immediately because you realize it takes time to receive resumes, select candidates, and go through the screening and interview process before you can find a person who’s right for the position.

You have the job description — a four-page document that provides very specific details about the job. You can simply copy most of the information, format it using bullets, and you’re good to go, at least for the online listing, right?

Not if you want to attract the best possible candidates.

A job ad is not a job description

There’s a reason they call it “job advertising.’’ By definition, an advertisement is intended to persuade an audience to take some kind of action. Indeed, the word “advertisement’’ comes from the Latin ad vertere, which means “to turn toward.”

A job description, on the other hand, is an internal document that defines tasks, usually for purposes of salary range and performance evaluation. If you share this information in a job ad, candidates won’t turn toward — they’ll turn away.

Have you ever tried to wade through one of those lengthy, bulleted job postings? Did you make it through the entire ad? What was your impression of the job? What was your impression of the company?

That kind of job posting is enough to take the wind out of any enthusiastic job seeker’s sails, and may even send your would-be candidate ashore for a nap.

A boring ad won’t attract the dynamic, talented individuals you seek. It’s not only a waste of time and money; it has the potential to tarnish your company’s image in the employment marketplace.

Writing it right

You want to create a job posting that furthers your company’s employer brand and shares the opportunity you have to offer, and you want to present information in a way that resonates with your audience.

To do this, you need to think like a job seeker. Ask yourself, “If I were looking for a job in this field, what about this position would grab my attention?’’ That’s your differentiator, and your advertising hook.

At the same time, you don’t want to go too far afield. You still need to cover the basics. These include using a job title common to the industry so candidates and search engines can find the listing.

You’ll want to identify the key position responsibilities and share those in your posting as well. Also identify your must-haves in terms of qualifications, but list these only if they truly are must-haves. For example, if you would consider hiring someone without a college degree, don’t list the degree as a requirement or you might inadvertently screen out your next employee.

In addition, be sure to let candidates know what the company and the job have to offer them.

“Telling the candidate what they must bring to the table is fine, but good candidates want to know what the employer will bring to the table other than a paycheck. The work environment, team members, and the work itself are critical to those candidates,” says Steven Rothberg, president of, a job board for recent grads and students.

Sharing additional information

Remember, your objective when creating a job listing is to pique candidates’ interest. Don’t aim to include everything in your online ad.

However, do include a link to your website where interested job seekers will find additional information about the position, company, workplace culture, and benefits.

By providing the right information, at the right time, in the right way, you’ll find candidates who are right for the job — and, as important, they’ll find you.

Paula Santonocito, a business journalist specializing in employment issues, has covered online recruitment since the early days of Web-based employment advertising and candidate sourcing.

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