Employer Branding Talent Acquisition

5 Things to Avoid When Posting Job Ads

Are you a recruiter or hiring manager who believes that job boards are a thing of the past? If so, you’re not alone. However, not being alone doesn’t necessarily make you right.

According to Statistic Brain, 35.5% of all jobs are filled from job boards or corporate career sites, second only to employee referrals. Despite the fact that job boards may have their problems, they’re still being used with effective results.

For those in the recruiting industry, or employers looking to grow their workforce, chances are your hiring efforts will involve posting an open position on a job board at some point. In the course of doing so, there are a number of bad habits many job posters are guilty of that, while they may think will improve their response rate, will actually hinder it.

Let’s look at a few worst practices involving job board advertising, and why they tend to yield negative results.

1. Too Lengthy

When posting open positions online, some don’t understand the difference between a legal job description and an optimized job ad, mistakenly believing that the more info they provide potential candidates, the better. While legal job descriptions are usually written by HR departments and list every possible job duty the new hire will be responsible for, they are far too long and boring to capture a job seeker’s interest.

Writing a concise job ad between a half and one page and incorporating four or five bullet points highlighting the position’s main responsibilities and required qualifications will be far more effective in drawing in candidates who will only spend a few seconds on each ad before moving on to the next.

2. Nondescript Titles

A few years ago, it became popular to advertise for Ninjas, Gurus, Rocks Stars, Ambassadors, Super Heroes and a variety of other titles meant to convey expertise, as well as demonstrate a fun, supportive work environment. However, most job posters eventually realized that these ads didn’t yield the results they hoped for because job seekers don’t search for Ninja or Guru jobs, but rather their traditional job titles or skills. Now that we’re all a little older and wiser, remember to think like a job seeker when posting an open position. While it’s fine to add some humor and personality to the job description, make sure the title is searchable.

3. Too Edgy

It doesn’t happen often, but every now and then, an employer will try to think a little too far outside the box by including sarcasm, off-color humor, or even a cuss word or two in their job ads. They may relish the thought of driving away the timid or easily offended, in hopes of hiring a thick-skinned employee with a sense of humor.

While most job boards will pull any ad they deem offensive, what offends one may not offend all, and while it may take days or weeks for the job board to identify the offending ad, by then the poster may have already sent the wrong message to their candidate pool. A better option is to protect your investment (your advertising budget and your company reputation), play it safe and save the edgy content for another time.

4. Keyword Stuffing

Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and job boards were considered cutting-edge recruiting tools, a few sly individuals discovered that if they include a lengthy list of keywords in white font below the job ad text, the ad will show up in more keyword searches.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t make the position more relevant to job seekers’ searches than if the keywords didn’t exist. In addition, if a few of the “invisible” keywords do match a search, they appear highlighted, revealing the deceitful tactic and annoying job seekers who waste their time reading a position description with little to do with their original search. A better solution – include relevant keywords in the body of the job description. This will cause the ad to appear higher in search results for the right reasons. After all, it’s better to reach 50 qualified and interested candidates than 500 unqualified ones who won’t want to work with you.

5. Too Selfish

Some employers feel that since they’re offering the job and paying the salary, they only need to list what they expect from an ideal candidate in a job ad, and the burden then falls on job seekers to show how they’re qualified. While this may work for a few high-profile employers filling in-demand roles, the rest will find this strategy highly ineffective in a candidate’s market.

Top talent have choices, and they will want to know how the company and role will benefit them:

  • How will their work make an impact?
  • How will they fit into the company culture?
  • Are there opportunities for advancement?
  • What kind of salary and benefits are being offered?

Employers that fail to appeal to candidates’ interests in job ads will see a response rate that pales in comparison to those that do.

While job boards and career sites may soon be replaced by more effective alternatives such as targeted social media advertising and applicant tracking systems, as of right now, they’re still producing hires. Because the recruiting landscape is constantly shifting, it’s important that hiring managers and recruiters remain flexible in their methods of attracting candidates. As with any recruiting tool, bugs and kinks are worked out over time, and users see premium results until a more effective method is introduced.

For those advertisers who learn to optimize their job postings, as well as what techniques traditionally fail to produce results, they should enjoy a few more years of hires from job boards before they go extinct.

By John Feldmann

John Feldmann is a Senior Communications Specialist for Insperity in Houston, TX. With over a decade of marketing and employment branding experience in the recruiting and human resources industries, John specializes in employment- and HR-related content development for a variety of media types in order to communicate Insperity's brand to both business professionals and job seekers. Follow John on X @John_Feldmann.