What does your Job Posting say?

If you’re relying on a standard template or getting someone who has no idea what the job involves to write one, then you are not attracting the best on the market.

Are you in the middle of hiring and wondering why your incredible job opportunity is only attracting mediocre candidates? 

The fact is that generic postings on job boards will attract a lot of generic applicants and ridiculous ones may not attract any at all.

If you’re relying on a standard template or getting someone who has no idea what the job involves to write one, then you are not attracting the best on the market.

More than that, you’re probably repelling them.


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Here are the common mistakes frequently seen on job boards and how to hire good candidates.

1.    Your job description sounds boring

If you want to attract the best, you need to sell the role and make it attractive.

Imagine if you listed out everything you do each day or week.  Would you apply for your own job?  Probably not. 

And yet some job postings do just that and the recruiter wonders why people are not clamoring to apply.

People scrolling through job listings will probably only scan the first section and if it isn’t attractive they’ll scroll on.  So you need to catch their attention with a compelling and concise job description.

List the role, responsibilities, and challenges along with a description of your company culture and what makes you a great employer.

Aim to format the job description in a way that keywords and qualities catch a candidate’s eye and search parameters.

  • Use bullet points just like these

  • Highlights important requirements

  • Use headlines in bold

  • Explain how the position fits into the company

Be specific

Of course, if you do a lot of hiring it’s easier to copy and paste something you use regularly for a position with a similar title and seniority, but are those two jobs exactly the same?

If you want to hire the best candidates then you need to tailor your job postings for each position.

Whilst all your managers might be on similar salaries do they do similar things?  One may be responsible for a fast-paced section, another may be responsible for more sedate forward-planning. 

Those managers will need very different practical and soft skills.

So make sure your job description reflects the specific role to make sure the best candidates apply.

2.    Your qualification requirements are unrealistic

Some job postings ask for the moon on a stick.

If you’ve looked at job boards recently, it’s surprisingly common to require a long list of skills, qualifications, and experience as well as a completely unrealistic expectation of workload.

It doesn’t take long for a good candidate to work out the position covers several full time roles and that whoever gets the job is going to burn out fast.

Check if your job requirements are actually possible to fulfill.   Do you really need all those qualifications plus 10 years of experience as well as three languages?

Also check if you’ve based the job description on the person who is leaving the position.  Just because they came with, or acquired those skills and experience, is it realistic to expect the next person to be a carbon copy of them?

When you are writing the job description for a new hire, take the opportunity to review the role.  It shouldn’t read like a crazy science experiment where several people have thrown in ingredients.

A job description should be realistic and based on what the company needs not what a predecessor did.  This is an easy hole to fall into if the previous post holder was a long-term employee.

The goal is to find the best candidate for the role, not an exercise in finding an exact replacement for the person leaving the organization.

If your job posting is based on unrealistic qualifications then the best candidates won’t apply.

3.   The salary doesn’t equate to the job title

Job postings that describe a senior level position and offer junior level salary turn off great candidates for obvious reasons.

In fact, you’ll probably attract a lot of people with junior level experience and may feel forced to hire one through lack of choice.

If you are sure your salary offer is the market rate for similar roles then it might be the job title that’s repelling good candidates.

There’s a trend for creating unique and descriptive job titles like Chief Happiness Officer increase of Customer Service Manager.

There are two problems with this trend.

  1. Chief Happiness Officer is unlikely to be a key word in a good candidate’s search parameters. It’s great that companies have a can-do attitude to customer service but that detail should be saved for later in the job description along with a description of their company ethos.

  2. Descriptive job descriptions leave potential candidates confused.  Do they have the experience to be a Chief Happiness Officer? Are there any qualifications in happiness required?  What does a Chief Happiness Officer do exactly?

If candidates aren’t clear on what will be required of them, they’ll move on to a job posting that makes it crystal clear.

If you are hiring for a position and disappointed with the applications so far, check that the job title contains keywords that suitable candidates will search for.

Also ensure that you have a salary range included that is commensurate with the level of responsibility involved that will attract candidates with the right level of skill and experience.

A salary range will allow room for negotiation and attract applicants across the band’s spectrum giving you the chance to select from several good candidates.

4.  It doesn’t explain the day-to-day job

Another problem with generic job postings is that they don’t explain what the successful candidate will be doing each day.

Good candidates may not take any chances.

Top line job descriptions might explain the duties and responsibilities but not the circumstances under which they’ll be performed.

This matters because whilst some people love high-pressure and big teams, others do not. 

Good candidates might decide not to apply because they don’t want to waste their time and yours on a job that isn’t a good fit.  And yet they might be perfect for you.

Conversely, companies may be inadvertently attracting quiet, methodical workers when the job really needs someone who can easily change priorities and fire-fight problems.

Make sure your job postings give potential candidates context:

  • Under what circumstances do the everyday duties and tasks take place?

    • Slow and sporadic?

    • Time pressured and high volume?

    • Isolated or in a large open plan office?

    • Noisy or quiet environment?

  • Do those duties add up to 100% of a work day/week?  If not, how else is time spent?

    • Forward planning? 

    • Following up stakeholders and suppliers? 

    • Travel between sites?

    • Client meetings?

Meetings and travel can be time consuming.  If these activities will take up a significant amount of the work day then this should be clear in the job posting so that you attract candidates who are clear on what will be expected of them.

Don’t forget about the special projects and temporary duties either.  They may not be everyday assignments but if the candidate will be expected to do them then that information needs to be included.

The addition of one-off tasks for temporary duties allows candidates to properly assess their suitability for the position.

Often these temporary tasks can be an added incentive for good candidates to apply if they provide opportunities to develop. 

If they are more mundane activities it means both you and the candidate understand what will be expected of them and there are no surprises down the line.

Hiring people is time consuming and hiring the wrong person is an expensive mistake.  Taking a little more time with each job posting to avoid the mistakes in this article should mean you attract better candidates, faster.


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