You don’t have to travel far these days to see the “help wanted” signs posted in the windows of businesses large and small. It seems at times that everyone is looking to hire right now, which also means that lots of people are competing against one another for talent. 

At times like this you can take several different steps to stand out — as Indeed research shows, some employers are offering incentives, including signing and retention bonuses. I’ve also noticed some large employers touting the fact that they will pay the education costs of their workers. 

But while those tactics are certainly interesting, one thing remains true: you still need to attend to basics, and you won’t get far if your job descriptions and job advertisements don’t work.

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at how you can make sure you’re getting the fundamentals right.

Call to action 

In rewriting and refining descriptions and ads, think the shorter, the better. You want to get candidates interested by telling them what they absolutely need to know. 

Staffing agencies do this by sending out emails that include high-level information like position, location, employment status, tenure, start date and a one- to two-sentence job description. 

Give candidates similar specs about who you’re looking for and what they can expect from the job with a strong call to action at the end. 

If your initial draft of the job description is 1,000 words, cut it down to 300. If they want to know more, they’ll click through. 

That’s where you hit them with the remaining 700 words worth of details, asking and answering questions like, What does it look like to work here? What does it take to thrive here? What’s the culture like? (And all the proper legal stuff that keeps you compliant). 

Attract

By restructuring job descriptions and ads in the way discussed above, candidates will filter in or out of the process simultaneously. 

Not every job seeker is a fit for every job, and that’s okay. Back during the Great Recession, we saw record numbers of applicants per opening, which caused delays in hiring and contributed to a poor experience for everyone involved. 

If you’ve ever seen the show House Hunters, you know that most of the people who appear on it have a list of what they’re looking for in a home. At the same time, each property only has so much it can offer the house hunter in return. 

You only have so much you can offer candidates, which is why it’s so important to give them that guidance and enable them to self-select. Provide specifics around factors like compensation so that candidates seeking $100,000 or more won’t apply for a position that only pays $75,000. 

Optimize 

Finally, think about how you optimize your job descriptions and advertisements so that the content gets seen. 

There’s a good chance that only a small percentage of candidates will come directly to your careers site, which means you need to figure out a way to connect with the larger percentage that won’t. Part of that has to do with your word choice and formatting, and the other has to do with how you choose to market your posts. 

Don’t use words that don’t help, meaning job titles that exist outside of your organization. Hone in on clear descriptions that people will be looking for, like “software developer” or “marketing coordinator.” 

Likewise, provide descriptions that match these positions, spelling out what it takes to do the job. Consider a programmatic approach to advertising to reach wider audiences, particularly if you’re recruiting for high-volume roles. 

The importance of job descriptions and job advertising is to connect candidates with opportunities. Doing so requires accounting for current conditions in a way that’s sensitive to the needs of job seekers and the employer, without sacrificing the details or the experience.


William Tincup is the President of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Indeed.