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Employer Extra

This month, we introduce Employer Extra, a new quarterly column aimed at providing employers with advice and information to help them find, hire and train the best employees.


Attracting the right candidates: the modern job posting

It’s important to understand that a job description is both a recruitment tool and a marketing document. Its outcome is simple: to attract the right candidates to apply for your open position.

Here are some tips to make your job descriptions irresistible to your target candidates:

Know what you want in the role. A good way to start is to define how you’ll measure success. Traditional job descriptions categorize what characteristics people should have when they show up for work the first day, rather than how they should use their skills, degrees, knowledge and experience to contribute to your company’s success. Do your homework and speak with everyone involved in the hiring process to gain a deep understanding of what the person is expected to deliver once he comes on board, paying attention to core competencies (skills + knowledge + behavior) that are needed to achieve those outcomes. Be realistic with your expectations; decide if each element of what you’re asking for is a “must-have” or a “nice-to-have.”

Be clear. Job descriptions have some basic components: title, summary, responsibilities, reporting lines, requirements, education/certifications, location, work environment, benefits. They must all be clear, specific and concise, with no ambiguous terms or abbreviations. This is especially true for the title, which should be functional; reflect the level of seniority of the role; and straightforward, not gimmicky or in question format.

Understand what motivates a particular job-seeker. Do your research to understand the search behavior of candidates you want to attract. Job-search behavior is similar to buying behavior, with candidates using digital resources to assist with their decisions. Optimize search-engine traffic by using current phrases and keywords that are known to be most commonly searched in your industry. Specific job-seeker search criteria varies according to demographics, job type, industry and role.

While compensation is always a factor, it’s not the main motivator for most candidates. A job-seeker wants to know about benefits, work/life balance and career development opportunities. Will the job be challenging, meaningful, fit their interests and allow her to maximize her skills?

Prior to deciding to apply, a job-seeker will research a company’s image and brand, reputation in the community, team members, financial stability, products and services and current projects. Top candidates consistently look for opportunities to develop their capabilities and expand their networks. If they perceive your company as relevant, interesting and of value to them, they will want to connect.

Stand out and be creative. Generic, boring descriptions fail to communicate the many great reasons to work for your company, which is important to top candidates who are often juggling competing job offers. Differentiate your company from the competition by providing insight to your culture, mission, brand and environment. Job-seekers want to hear about the success of your organization and your vision for the future. Top candidates thrive on the chance to shine, be a part of a growth environment and work in a culture with a vision that aligns with theirs. More companies are showcasing their stories by including various media in their postings: pictures of the team and the work environment, video clips, animation and graphics. Think outside the box to build awareness and don’t be afraid to be creative as long as you remain professional.

Now that your description is done, turn your attention to the next few steps in the process:

Promote properly. The correct promotional channel for a job posting is just as important as the correct message. We’re no longer in the days of posting a position on your company website and traditional job boards, hoping candidates will come. You must adapt to our new tech-savvy culture and go where the job-seekers go: social media sites, niche job boards, online user-group communities, professional associations, university career sites, alumni and industry-specific groups and learning workshops.

Also understand that there are different levels of job-seekers: candidates seeking highly specialized positions will use filters and very specific search criteria in an effort to lesson time spent on jobs that won’t be of interest. Be sure your posting has the key industry and role buzz words.

Make connecting and applying simple. Connecting should be easy and able to be done with the latest technologies. Mobile job-search is growing at an accelerated rate, with a large percentage of job-seekers applying from smart phones and tablets. Companies that fail to mobile-optimize will fall behind in recruiting top talent.

Motivate a call to action! Invite the job-seeker to apply with clear, simple instructions and application deadlines indicated. Always make contact information transparent in case a job-seeker has any questions.

Follow up in a timely fashion. Best practice is a quick, initial acknowledgement that you received a resume, followed by a timely response with next steps. If the candidate is not chosen to continue further in the process, you should convey a friendly message thanking him for his interest and inviting him to apply for future positions. Smart companies are always building their talent pipelines. One way to do this is to stay in touch with candidates who either declined an offer or who have great backgrounds but don’t match a current open position.

Here’s the bottom line: a poor hiring decision will cost you time, money, morale and reputation. As the job market and talent pool changes, you need to be forward-thinking, innovative and adaptable in your approach to attract top talent.

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