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The Definitive Guide to Creating Great Postings

Recruiters these days can reach candidates through a variety of channels, including social media and Web forums. Nonetheless, job postings remain a strong way to pull in the best talent, so long as they position prospective employers in the best possible light.

The modern job posting is much more than a list of a position’s requirements; it’s an opportunity for a recruiter to show, in depth, why a particular company is a dynamic place to work.

Dice’s The Definitive Guide to Creating Great Job Postings, authored by recruiting expert Jessica Miller-Merrell, provides crucial insight into the modern job posting, including a breakdown of best practices for writing one. You’ll learn which posting titles will capture the attention of the targeted candidate; optimal SEO and keywords for posting descriptions; and how to craft a great call to action.

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The Definitive Guide to Creating Great Postings

  1. 1. By Dice and Jessica Miller-Merrell, Xceptional HR CREATING GREAT JOB POSTINGS THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO
  3. 3. DICE THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO CREATING GREAT JOB POSTINGS 3 ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR (@blogging4jobs) is an Internet television host, author, speaker, and human resources professional with a passion for recruiting, training, and all things social media. Although recruiters have taken to social media, Web forums, and other cutting-edge channels to find top tech talent, the job posting remains a powerful way of pulling in candidates — provided, of course, that the job posting stands out from the millions of others on the Web. Whatever the future brings — and economists at the U.S. Financial Reserve Board expect tech unemployment to drop through 2017 — it is critical that you engage, relate to and build relationships with the right tech audiences as quickly as possible. Otherwise, you are missing a huge opportunity to employ the brightest minds to drive company revenue, build great software, and take advantage of a growing marketplace. In this context, a modern job posting doesn’t just explain the position’s requirements; it offers crucial insight into why a particular company is an exciting place to work. It is a narrative unto itself, an extension of the company’s brand, and a compelling enticement to whomever reads it. Given the white-hot state of the tech job market (the unemployment rate for tech professionals is hovering at 3 percent), it’s become an increasingly challenging task for companies and recruiters to source and hire the best possible talent.
  4. 4. DICE THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO CREATING GREAT JOB POSTINGS 4 What is a modern job posting? So yes, a job posting is a marketing asset. It is also the hub around which a company can build a hiring and selection process for a particular candidate. From the candidate’s perspective, the posting offers a crucial first glimpse into the hiring process and the company itself. It is of vital importance that the initial impression be a good one. A job posting is different from a job advertisement. Unlike a job ad, which in its brevity and colorfulness is the information equivalent of a highway billboard (and in the case of some companies, may actually be a highway billboard), the job posting provides in-depth information that tells the candidate quite a bit about the company. Think of it as analogous to a movie trailer or a 5-minute YouTube video, one that imparts a significant (and hopefully intriguing) amount of substance. THE MODERN JOB POSTING INTRODUCTION
  5. 5. DICE THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO CREATING GREAT JOB POSTINGS 5 A job posting should be 300-500 words in length and include bullets and headlines that make it easy to read. The language should be engaging, with words and phrases that aim at a very specific type of candidate. Why that need for exactness? Because there are a lot of job postings, but not a lot of candidates to fill them, especially in tech. When you look at the numbers you can see why it’s more important than ever to make sure your job postings stand out. “You have precious little real estate in your job posting. When you’re highlighting all of the factors that can motivate a job change [Advancement, Money, People, Technology] the people and culture rank higher for social people. Make sure that you have a tangible, relevant, short story of how people are selected and supported in your company. This is NOT your boilerplate corporate message. A custom message for each team or hiring department via templates will make it more relevant, more powerful, and more real to the people you need to reach.” – Bryan Chaney, Founder, TalentBrand.org 945,00010.7Million 23 Active Job Postings Active Job Postings Overall U.S. Labor Market More job postings than in 2013 candidates per job posting 6tech candidates per job posting 20.5% More job postings than in 2013 19.1. % U.S. Tech Market only Source: Wanted Analytics, August 2015
  6. 6. DICE THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO CREATING GREAT JOB POSTINGS 6 No two job postings from two companies should be alike. Take the following examples: A Conventional Approach Northrop Grumman’s job postings do a great job of including a catchy visual and using SEO optimization to reach a targeted audience of qualified candidates. (SEO optimization is fairly obvious when text repeats a word multiple times on a webpage, but other, more subtle indicators include bolded texts, tagged words or combinations, and use of larger fonts for headlines.)
  7. 7. DICE THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO CREATING GREAT JOB POSTINGS 7 An Unconventional Approach Compare Northrop Grumman’s posting to the very non-traditional one created by a tech company in San Diego, CA; that posting does not take the same “optimized” approach to its text or presentation. Northrop Grumman’s job posting is simple yet effective because it creates a clear differentiation between the company and its rivals competing in the same talent pool, while using graphics to emphasize the company culture and employee benefits. The posting clearly explains the hiring process, people, and the working environment. The posting from the San Diego company takes a completely different approach, which probably limits its potential to attract suitable applicants. Sure, the prose is efficient and takes some eye-catching risks, emphasizing salary and benefits while extolling the need for “great f$*%ing” developers. However, the posting is a bit too vague; there’s no mention of the company’s name or culture, or the position’s responsibilities, training, or advancement opportunities.
  8. 8. DICE THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO CREATING GREAT JOB POSTINGS 8 SIX JOB POSTING BEST PRACTICES With so much competition to get candidate eyes on job postings, it is important to embrace some best practices in order to reach the most qualified people. 1 Showcase Your Brand Building and establishing an employment brand is an increasingly important part of attracting best-in-class candidates. By showcasing your brand, you provide candidates with information about why your company is a great place to work, insights into the culture and why your organization matters to your employees. “Employees, especially Millennials, care about the culture they are working in. Give them a reason to opt in. Start simple with a brief summary or history about what makes your company stand out in the first 2-3 sentences of your job posting,” said Linda Blackmon, CEO of ExtendMyStaff. Excellent compensation, an emphasis on work-life balance and exciting work challenges are the three qualities that attract tech talent to apply to a job. It is important to clearly identify how your FINE TUNING
  9. 9. DICE THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO CREATING GREAT JOB POSTINGS 9 technology is a game-changer in your industry, and how it offers value that is different from peer companies. When developing a posting, talk with current employees to understand what drew them to your organization. That can give you some of the insight necessary to establish an attractive employment brand. 2 Accurately Represent the Job Opening The best job postings provide information on the qualifications and skill sets needed in order to be successful in the role. This is especially important in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) roles, where even very minute differences can keep you from reaching a qualified candidate base. The single most important part of your job posting is the title. Like an email subject line, it is the first piece of information your candidate will read. It should accurately describe the job, provide information about the skill sets required, and encourage the candidate to either explore or move along to another opportunity. Paul Debettignies, Principal at Minnesota Headhunter, LLC, recruits and consults with tech startups in the Minneapolis and St. Paul areas. He suggests avoiding using company acronyms and company-specific job titles in your headlines, as well as within the body of the job posting: “Candidates are searching for specific skill sets, qualifications and areas of specialization, and not Senior Engineering Level II Guru. A poor job posting headline can keep you from reaching the best talent and draw out the hiring process possibly indefinitely.” “Your current employees undoubtedly feel an affinity with your company’s values; if they didn’t, they probably wouldn’t be working for you! Values provide a foundation for action and behavior, shape the company culture, and support the organization’s vision. Socializing and reinforcing the values will help you understand how they resonate with employees and that, in turn, will guide you in the creation of a compelling message to candidates.” – Robin Schooling, Managing Director/Owner, Silver Zebras
  10. 10. DICE THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO CREATING GREAT JOB POSTINGS 10 EXAMPLES OF GOOD JOB TITLES Lead Java Developer Java Software Developer: Web UI iCloud Java Server Engineer Java Software Engineer (Identity Platform) PPC Manager – Fashion/Apparel – Google AdWords/Bing Ads (Even though this doesn’t include ‘Java,’ it is a specific position for an internal division or product) EXAMPLES OF POOR JOB TITLES UI & J2EE Architect / Java Developer / Java Lead / Java Solution Architect (Too many variations, so it’s hard to know the actual nature of the position.) IMMEDIATE HIRE – Core Java Developer (Terms like ‘immediate hire’ and ‘multiple positions’ are misleading and make the position feel spammy.) 8863 iOS Developer – Engineer/ Sr. Engineer Innovation (Includes a random job number that is only understandable by the Employer.) When writing job postings, think about how your audience searches for a new role. I suggest talking with recent hires to learn more about how they sort through job postings, including what keywords and skill sets they use in their search. Use this information to optimize your job posting through SEO strategies. SEO optimization enhances your job postings (or other Web pages) in the eyes of search engines, improving the likelihood of discovery via Google, Yahoo, and Bing. The practice involves creating a list of keywords; I recommend selecting no more than 3 to 5. Recruiters should focus on the “organic” or unpaid keywords the candidates may enter into a search engine when looking for a job. Those keywords (which you should list before composing the posting) include job title, main skills and geographic location. Web crawlers rank content at the beginning of the page as the most important; if you want a solid example of SEO at work, look at the next page to see how Lululemon structured their senior UX strategist job posting. THE RIGHT TITLE FOR THE RIGHT JOB The posting title grabs the attention of your targeted candidate and draws them in, making them want to learn more about the job role and responsibilities.
  11. 11. DICE THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO CREATING GREAT JOB POSTINGS 11 Many products exist to help you determine which keywords to use, but I recommend using common sense by putting yourself in your candidates’ shoes. Start by using Google’s Adword Keyword Search tool as you begin optimizing and experimenting. SEO also allows recruiters to reach a very targeted and specific audience. By focusing your efforts on a small number of keywords, you increase the likelihood that your job posting will appear earlier in search results. Your posting will also rank higher if you bold your keywords, use bullets and include keywords in headlines. While brevity isn’t a crucial element in SEO, it can only help your posting. For his part, Debettignies has seen a gradual shrinkage in the length of job postings: “We are making the requirements on the job posting much shorter. There is no need for 17 bullet points on an iOS Developer job posting. They know if they are one or not. Some context is needed for skills but we generally eliminate a long check list.” Feature job title, key tech skills and location at beginning of the job posting Include 3 to 5 focus keywords in the posting Select low-competition search terms Bold your keywords and use them as headings Include photos and other media to increase optimization Sprinkle your keywords 3 to 5 times in your posting 1 2 3 5 6 4 SEO BEST PRACTICES
  12. 12. DICE THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO CREATING GREAT JOB POSTINGS 12 [Sony Playstation] Staff/Senior Software Engineer, SHAREfactory Team Sony Computer Entertainment, San Diego, CA Posted 1 Week Ago Software Engineer 2 NORTHROP GRUMMAN San Diego, CA C++, Game industry experience, video/audio development a plus Position Id: 158895 Have a Job? Similar Positions Full Time, Full-Time 145000 Telecommuting not available Travel not required Post it Apply Now Save Email Share 3 Create a Great Call to Action You’ve worked hard to create an effective posting for the candidates, giving them insights into what you can offer their careers, beyond just another place to work. Now it’s time to conclude with a call to action that drives those candidates to apply. Keep your call to action short and to the point. In theory it could be as simple as, “Apply here,” but you want your call to action to stand out from those of your competitors. Take a look at your competitors’ job postings and consider conducting A/B tests with different colors and calls to action to see what drives better results. Examples of Calls to Action: Apply Now Apply Here Work Here Join Our Team Join Our Talent Network A great call to action is the last opportunity to convert a tech pro from prospect into candidate. Be direct. Be brief. Be different. And always ask them directly to apply. On the career site of Sony’s PlayStation division, there’s a call to action button included on both the top and bottom of their job postings, ensuring candidates can easily understand the next step in the hiring process and what actions they need to “Apply Online.” Their position titles are extremely specific, allowing engineers to better determine if they have the skills, qualifications and experience to work there. The company takes its call to action another step further, encouraging job seekers to share the opening on social media and even email the job posting to a friend. What’s great about Dice is that it bakes these features into their standard job posting, increasing candidate conversions and shares via social media and email.
  13. 13. DICE THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO CREATING GREAT JOB POSTINGS 13 4 Consider Technology The actual website and location of your job posting is just as important as the content, copy and call to action. You must consider technology and how applicants will interact with and experience your employment brand. Try to regularly test your own job posting and application process from the perspective of a candidate to understand how technology plays a role in the experience. Each job- posting platform (job board, career website or blog) produces a different candidate experience. Consider the importance of mobile, special features, talent networks and apps. This is especially important since job boards remain the number one source of hires, according to a CareerXroads study. Mobile is a key technology to consider as part of a job-posting strategy. Candidates increasingly use their mobile devices to search and apply for jobs. According to a study from Jobvite, recruiters who use mobile in their recruiting efforts see a 14 percent improved time to hire and a 13 percent increase in quality of candidates. Mobile job search activities come in many forms: Accessing social media via smartphone Video (whether live or via sites like Facebook and YouTube) Your mobile optimized career site Mobile app use Mobile apply Mobile research via the web Sourcing via mobile by your recruits for candidates Mobile touches nearly every aspect of a candidate’s job search, as well as the recruiter’s workflow. It is important to understand what technology candidates use to not just apply but also view, research and engage with your company. With this in mind, make a point of talking to recent hires and past job candidates about the job search preferences and habits that led to them applying at your company. 14%% 44Improved time to hire Use of Mobile in Recruiting 13%% Increase in quality of candidates Source: Jobvite
  14. 14. DICE THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO CREATING GREAT JOB POSTINGS 14 5 Engage and Share via Social Media Social media is a great way to share your job posting as well as engage with your candidate community. Seventy-three percent of adults use social media in their everyday lives. It’s a channel that puts candidates in direct contact with recruiters and places your employment brand front and center. On the next page is a list of social recruiting tips to get you started on the right foot with sharing and engagement. While each tip is extremely important, perhaps the most vital aspect is remembering not to ”overshare” or spam your candidates. Personalize your messages. Answer questions. Build relationships, and most importantly, do not automate all of your job postings. Depending on the size of your organization, you might have dozens or even hundreds of new job openings. Oversharing can alienate your social media community of tech pros. Even enterprises as large as Hewlett-Packard have chosen to feature one daily job posting on their social networks, use custom hash tags, and focus on building relationships with their social media community. Twitter job cards such as #Dice141 are another great way to highlight a specific opening to a targeted community. Twitter is a favorite among tech pros and is the third most popular search engine behind Google and YouTube. Job cards allow you to go beyond the 140-character limit and focus a specific job posting using keywords, location and benefits. Twitter job cards extend the life of a tweet beyond its 15 minutes of fame. Hashtags are the best way for recruiters to reach a very targeted network that might or might not be following you. I consider hashtags the Dewey decimal system of social media, allowing others to find you and build new connections and communities. Recruiters can use hashtags by job type (like #javadeveloper), city name (like #sf or #sanfrancisco), or the #job or #jobs hashtags to tell other Twitter users that the tweet contains information about a job or job opening. Tech professionals tend to search for jobs by skill, so highlighting core skills with hashtags in your tweets is key to getting them found. “ I have found social media job sharing most effective when it comes from individual recruiters as well as hiring managers. Social media allows you to connect on a personal level, helps establish relationships and tap into a network of new candidates directly from your employees,” – Kim Hollenshead, Senior Recruiter, Zenoss
  15. 15. DICE THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO CREATING GREAT JOB POSTINGS 15 Another popular trend among employer brands is to create a company-specific hashtag that encourages the sharing by members of your recruiting team as well as employees. Hashtags like #AskATT, #TeamAmtrack and #AdobeLife all promote employee engagement and sharing. Equally important is the organization of company job postings on Twitter and other social media sites, which is why I recommend creating a company-specific job posting hashtag to organize social media job postings. HP has done an excellent job of making searching for their featured jobs easy on social media with their hashtag, #HPcareers. TWITTER RECRUITING TIPS Personalize your messaging and don’t spam Post between 1-5 job openings per day, just don’t overdo it Use visual networks such as Instagram and Vine to reach different candidate communities Utilize Twitter Job Cards such as #Dice141 Keep it short (under 110 characters) for reposting and retweeting Use hashtags to increase your candidate and community reach Use the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of content should interest your audience and engage in conversations, 20 percent should promote your brand and jobsTake advantage of Twitter’s powerful search engine 5
  16. 16. DICE THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO CREATING GREAT JOB POSTINGS 16 Social Recruiting Beyond Twitter While Twitter is certainly an engaging network, recruiters have a variety of options when it comes to social media to connect, showcase their brand and engage with a very targeted candidate community. Social networks such as Vine, SnapChat, Instagram, LinkedIn as well as Facebook offer a great way to reach candidates. Blizzard Entertainment understands the importance of creating a clear differentiation with their job postings. A recent social post looking for a “Java the Hutt” is shown below. As Lorren Guerra, Talent Acquisition Leader at Blizzard explains: “The Java the Hutt job posting was an introduction to a more formal job description. It generated a large amount of positive feedback from candidates especially via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.” Because social media is still a relatively new platform with which to engage and reach candidates, they offer an opportunity for recruiters to innovate. Regardless of the social network, hashtags remain an important part of any social recruiting or social engagement strategy. They provide recruiters an opportunity to engage established communities and expand reach. CH2M Hill has more than 25,000 employee across the globe. The company successfully leveraged social media platforms such as Facebook to reach highly critical engineering roles. Rather than use status updates or targeted advertisements on social networks, CH2M Hill found the most success in posting to social-media groups such as online engineering communities and alumni networks. Social recruiting strategies are as different as job candidates themselves. The key to effective social recruiting and using social media begins with understanding your audience and metrics in order to gauge which social platform drives the most results and what success looks like to your recruiting team. The most feared lead software engineer in the galaxy, Java is wanted for gangster programming skills, veteran leadership, and battle-tested experience. From Blizzard’s throne room in Irvine, CA, Java will lead an elite Battle.net web team to provide an entire universe of fans with high performance online experiences. Whereabouts currently unknown, although given the history of passion for server-side and scalable server architecture, Death Star ties possible. Java should be considered armed and extremely talented. All teams recruit with deadly intent. No disintegration! WANTED: JAVA THE HUTT From Blizzard Entertainment
  17. 17. DICE THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO CREATING GREAT JOB POSTINGS 17 6 Create Clear Differentiation The best recruiters research their competition tirelessly and are prepared to answer questions, overcome objections and sell the role in this competitive, candidate-driven marketplace. The best job postings create a clear message that sets them apart from other employers. Testimonials are a powerful way to share what makes your organization unique and a great place to work. The best testimonials come directly from your employees. Companies such as Twilio are combining video with testimonials (in Twilio’s case, a YouTube channel called Twilio Life) that coordinate with their employment branding and social media efforts. The testimonials focus not just on employees but also on specific teams, including sales and engineering. Beyond research and employee testimonials, visual media helps to set employers apart from one another. This includes photography, videos and other digital assets that complement your job posting.
  18. 18. DICE THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO CREATING GREAT JOB POSTINGS 18 Hootsuite recently executed a live-streaming video campaign on Periscope, called #followthesun, where they Scoped across the organization and in different locations throughout the course of a day, building awareness of a number of open positions at their company. The campaign, which was the first of its kind in recruiting, resulted in 230 new social media followers and 5,078 views of their Scopes. “Understanding the candidate’s needs, thoughts, feelings and behaviors will guarantee an open door to a better communication. It is also essential for brands to be authentic and genuine in the way we communicate with our audiences. Consistently incorporating these components in your job postings will increase your ability to attract more of the right candidates, and filter out people that are not a culture fit.” – Andres Traslavina, Global Recruiting Sr. Manager, HR Whole Foods Market Crafting the perfect job posting that attracts the best talent for your organization takes a great deal of research, preparation and work. Know your audience, keep an eye on your competition and understand what organizational values attract great talent and keep them productively working for your company. Job postings are the ultimate marketing tool to reach the most qualified candidates, but that’s only the beginning. In this competitive tech job market, companies must go beyond job postings to consider social networking platforms that grow your brand, tell your story and expand your reach. With effort and creativity, you can achieve your ultimate goal of hiring the best talent. FINAL THOUGHTS
  19. 19. DICE THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO CREATING GREAT JOB POSTINGS 19 Job Title • Create an eye-catching yet descriptive job title; for example, Lead Java Engineer rather than Software Engineer III • Keep your job posting headline short under 100 characters Skills, Keywords and SEO • Include necessary tech skills and descriptive keywords that are specific to the role • Use low competition, long tail keywords to reach a targeted candidate — adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner is a good starting point Tell a Story • Talk about what makes your company unique and a great place to work • What’s a typical day look like? • How will the person help the company meet its goals? • Get to the point — keep your job posting under 500 words Formatting and Graphics • Use bullets to separate and list skills and qualifications making your job posting more visually appealing and easier to read • Use media including video and graphics to set yourself apart from the competition The Nitty Gritty • Salary range • Contract vs. Permament • Telecommuting Options • Location • Unique perks, training and benefits Applying Should Be Easy • Make it easy to share, save or apply to your job • Have a clear call to action • Test posting and application process on mobile Promote Your Jobs on Social Media • Include Hashtags • Use Facebook/LinkedIn Groups • Twitter Job Cards • Experiment with other platforms like Vine, Periscope or Instagram Measure and Track success • Cost per hire • Time to Fill • Source per hire JOB POSTING CHECKLIST