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Top 10 Job Posting “Fail”s

Let’s be honest: Most job postings aren’t all that appealing.

Even if you have the best tools for accurate hiring decisions, even if you make the process fast and efficient, you still might not end up with the best candidates. You need to convince the right people to apply in the first place. And that usually begins with the job posting. These are the top 10 job posting mistakes to avoid.

10. Self-centered wording

Would you like to write a better job posting? Asking a question is a great way to start off a job posting. See what I did there? People who are interested in writing a better job posting are likely to pay attention and keep reading this entry. This works because it directly engages the audience. Ask a question or suggest an action. Far too many postings are completely self-centered. You won’t get nearly as much engagement with lines such as “[Company X] is a company that…” or “We are looking for a…” What about the applicant? With a tone like that, the applicant might as well not exist. 03521r

9. Generic wording

This is probably the most common job posting mistake. You already have a bland boilerplate description of the job and/or the company. Copy, paste, done. Not much thought or effort went into the posting, and it shows. These postings don’t really grab attention or stand out from others. Even worse, it sends a subtle message: If no one cared enough to spend any time on the posting, how much do they really care about the people they hire?

8. Unclear title

The job title is the first thing that people will read. It could also be the last thing. An unclear title can miss the mark in two important ways.
  • It might not contain enough information. How is a potential applicant supposed to know if they should be interested? You can’t just expect them to keep reading.
  • A formal job title won’t necessarily “translate” across different organizations, regions, or industries. It’s often better to substitute the formal title for something more general—something that any qualified applicant can easily recognize and understand.

7. Doesn’t reflect the employer brand

Most generic job descriptions (see above) don’t make a compelling case for why someone would want, like, or even love the job. What are your best selling points? If you aren’t selling them in the job posting, you might not get a second chance.

6. Includes potential turnoffs

It’s pretty obvious that job seekers can have “deal-breakers.” For example, they might require a certain level of compensation, they might not be willing to move, or they might demand a flexible work schedule. What’s less obvious is that job postings often contain more subtle turnoffs. We already mentioned how generic copy-and-paste postings can imply an organization’s more general lack of caring about employees. One of the most frequent turnoffs is when job postings include preferences. Things about a candidate that might be nice, but aren’t actually necessary or required. People who don’t fit one or more of these preferences might not bother to apply—even if they would have been the best candidates. The worst part is that you will never know.

5. Includes buzzwords

Dynamic. Leverage. Synergy. What do these words even mean? They lack clear definition and therefore don’t convey useful information in the limited space (and job seeker attention) that you have. Speaking of turnoffs (see above) using buzzwords in a job posting can be a major turnoff. Buzzwords are often seen as amateurish, outdated, or insincere hype.

4. Not “scan-able”

Most people aren’t going to read long sentences or paragraphs. The attention span of a job seeker (like most people on the Internet) is very limited. Use short sentences or bullet points whenever possible, and consider including headings so that relevant information is easier to find.

3. In the wrong order

Include the most important information up-front. It is more likely to grab attention, and it will be more memorable.

2. Lacking detail

What does a potential applicant need to know in order to determine whether they should be interested? Make sure that the most relevant details are all included. If important details are missing:
  • You might look like you’re hiding something undesirable
  • You might ask too much from the job-seeker’s limited attention span
  • You might be bogged down with applications from people who aren’t actually qualified or interested

1. Unclear call-to-action

So let’s say you managed to avoid all of the above pitfalls. Your job posting looks great. Now what? The job seeker still needs to take the next step. Even if you did everything else right, you can still fail at this stage. How do they start an application? Where can they get more information? Make it as clear and easy as possible to take the next step. That way, people will actually do it.
Image credits: Jorge Franganillo, Library of Congress