How to Write a Delightful Job Post

The job post genre is one of my faves, specifically because the vast majority of them are so horrible. They’re dry. Long. Repetitive. Oh, and they sound pretty boilerplate, too. There is so much ickiness out there, it’s hard to know where to start.

A job post is your first opportunity to make an impression on applicants. Real superstars know that they need to customize every cover letter, do research, and spend significant time on each application.

They’re unlikely to waste the effort on job posts that make them go: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

So make it shine. Here’s how.

Remember that a job post is about marketing yourself.

As of this writing, the unemployment rate is just 4.1%. In the tech industry? It’s half that. It is a job-seeker’s market, so you’ve got to communicate the real benefits of the job, not simply list your requirements. For example:

  • Will they work on a team that’s cohesive and fun?
  • Is the hiring manager invested in training and team development?
  • Are there opportunities to advance?
  • What’s the work/life balance like?
  • Is the work itself cutting-edge?

These are the questions that applicants want to hear the answers to. Provide them upfront. Wrap those awesome benefits into every line.

But um…don’t go too crazy.

Check out the “perks” section of this (all too real) job listing:

Weve (sic) got perks, too! How about Volunteer Paid Time Off and your birthday as Holiday (sic)? 401(k) with match, stock options, commuter stipend and fantastic health insurance, too! Oh and dont (sic) like wearing a suit and a tie every day? Weve (sic) got you covered! Were (sic) a jeans every day workplace!

This listing has a couple of things going on. The excessive exclamation points reek of overcompensation. Are the office perks really that great when your employees cannot master appropriate apostrophe use?

Also, look at the weight afforded “jeans every day!”  If that is the most exciting thing about this listing, I’m immediately suspicious that the pay won’t measure up.

Just use bullet points instead. Calm your shit down. If your perks really are awesome, they’ll speak for themselves.

Cut the fluff.

This is the opener from a real(ly unfortunate) software engineer job post:

Looking for more than just another assignment? We”re (sic) looking for you! This isn”t (sic) just another assignment, but a real opportunity and a challenge for the right person.

Okay. So, we’re three sentences in and I have no idea what this assignment is. I’ve begun to doubt that the person writing this listing knows.

Even if you can’t share exact details about the client in a job post, you can be specific about what kind of work this is upfront. “Not another assignment” makes me suspect that it really, super is.

Cut down on the required skills.

If you’ve got 48 bullet points of skills you absolutely must have in an applicant, you need to slow your roll.

It’s been shown that women tend not to apply for a job unless they meet every single requirement. While men just go for it once they’re 60% of the way there. If you’ve got a gender balance problem, cut your required skills as much as you can to improve your hiring pipeline.

Oh, and you can forget stuff like “Excellent communication skills.” That’s assumed. We’re all adults here.

Don’t be so hung up on minimum years of experience.

Again, from a real job post:

  • A minimum of 3 years of experience with VB.NET or .NET Framework
  • A minimum of 3 years of experience with C#
  • A minimum of one year with Visual Studio 2015 or 2017
  • A minimum of one year with WPF
  • A minimum of one year with WCF
  • A minimum of one year with REST and/or MS Web API

I mean…really?!?! Are you going to have a stick up your butt if the applicant has only 9 months of experience in WPF? Just try to be friendly. These 6 bullet points can be 2:

  • 3 years experience with VB.NET or .NET Framework, and C#.
  • Must also be familiar with Visual Studio 2015 or 2017, WPF, WCF, REST, and/or MS Web API.

Much better. It communicates clearly to the applicant what skills are important for the job, and then they can move on to the other (more interesting) information.

Review your job posting personality — it can move the needle on diversity.

Your corporate culture is crazy important to a job seeker. A strong brand voice is obviously important, but beware of undermining your hiring efforts by sending the wrong cultural message.

Recent research has shown that certain words and phrases in job posts tend to prevent underrepresented demographic groups from applying. Ouch. Without a careful edit, you risk alienating the very people you hope to attract.

“Coding ninja”, “competitive”, and “fast-paced” read as code words for “male dominated”. If they’re showing up in your job posts, maybe it’s time to take a deeper look at your culture. Think: Uber. Don’t be like Uber.

Bringing a critical eye to your job postings isn’t the answer to a diverse and inclusive workforce, but it’s a start.

A professional writer just makes your job posts better.

They can even help you craft a job post template and style guide for your organization, to make hiring just a little less painful. Contact me today if you’re ready to have your job posts suck less.


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