What I Learned Writing 60 Job Posts in 60 Days

I’ve spent 10 years writing about the world of recruiting, and I can tell you no trend has really stuck. We recycle topics and beat things to death. But there’s one truth we can all agree on if you’ve ever tried to hire anyone: hiring is hard.

Thousands of people who have no experience in recruiting have tried to solve this fundamental problem because it’s a fact. Hiring IS really hard. You don’t have to be in recruiting to know that actually making a hire of someone you like who can do the job well at a salary you can afford is one of the hardest equations to solve.

So what can we do? We manage the variables we can control. We have to look at all the elements and work on the parts that influence hiring the most. Manage what we *can* control. Things like our career website, email outreach and (of course) job postings.

Job postings, in particular, have continued to catch my attention.

For one thing, I don’t think most practitioners were ever taught how to write useful job postings. The most experienced have merely looked at a lot of job descriptions, they weren’t trained to do anything different or better.

But it all boils down to this: If we can’t even explain the job clearly to someone, how can we make a successful hire? If you don’t have all of the information, you can’t attract the right person. If you do, it’s just luck.

And it bothered me. So I decided to do something about it.

So I started writing free job postings.

This is how it worked. People went to the Three Ears Media website and submitted one job. Then, they scheduled a 30-minute call with me to discuss the status of their overall job postings and the role I would rewrite.

So for the next 60 days or so, I took meetings and wrote job postings.

I had a reality check on the real world of recruiting and all of my perceptions. I was reminded at least 100 times that there’s no universal truth. That hiring is hard. That recruiting’s job hasn’t gotten any easier.

See, most of the job postings I encountered existed for a long time without an overhaul. Think about it. If I pulled a job posting from 10 years ago or one that was posted 10 minutes ago, I doubt it would be fundamentally different. Same dead tone. Same self-serving company paragraph. Most were just too long to ever keep the attention of, or more importantly persuade, a candidate.

But those weren’t the things that practitioners were pointing out. In fact, most people just signed up with a “feeling” – a feeling that their job postings simply weren’t good enough. They’re struggling to hire for all kinds of roles (everything from truck drivers to CTOs), and they know there’s something about their job postings that just isn’t getting the job done.

But before we dive into what I learned, I want to break down the vocabulary here because I have been known to use them interchangeably. I’ve been schooled and corrected.

Difference between job description job posting and job ad

7 Things I Learned Writing 60 Job Postings In 60 Days

  1. Most practitioners don’t think their job postings are that bad. They get the job done. People have applied. People have been hired. But across the board, they know the posts could get better. The problem? They have no idea where to start.
  2. Writing is intimidating for practitioners. One of the hardest parts about recruiting (besides the hiring part) is being expected to be good at everything. That’s not realistic. Across the board, copywriting is the one place where the fewest number of people really felt confident. [This is exactly what inspired us to create training that teaches copywriting for recruiters.]
  3. The most common issue? The job posting was too long. Over and over again, I heard practitioners say, “I just don’t know what’s important.” My answer: Whatever is essential to the candidate. More is not more. In fact, if the roles don’t have a ton of requirements and specific qualifications, I’d target around 200 words to mirror the length of typical social media messages and even more importantly, attention span.
  4. Most had no clue how job titles and SEO could work in their favor. Something as simple as the job title can make or break your job posting. For example, the office assistant and administrative assistant job titles aren’t interchangeable. In fact, you will lose over 20,000 searches a month just by swapping those titles.
  5. Bullets are the go-to. In the 100 jobs I looked at, not one was sent without an excessive number of bullets. In fact, one HR leader even said, “clearly I have a bullet fetish.” For years, people were told they had to have bullets, and I’m just not on board. Why? If there are no specific requirements someone must meet, bullets actually detract people – not attract them.
  6. The most important thing you can do in any job posting is translating the skills required into everyday activities. Instead of talking about Java, talk about what they use Java to build and label the bulleted area, “After 1 year, you’ll know you were successful if…” or “A typical day as a [job title here] includes…”
  7. I expected a lot of startups and tech roles from this project. The most frequent job I wrote? Truck drivers. There’s enormous demand, and this audience isn’t persuaded by cute photos on your careers page.

Due to high demand, we are no longer offering our free job rewrite. Instead, we’ve created a place where you can get expert advice on revising your job postings. Just go here. 

Job Postings Online Strategy and Job Boards recruiting Recruitment Marketing Advice

Katrina Kibben View All →

Katrina Kibben is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Three Ears Media. For most of Katrina’s career, she has been a marketer living in a recruiter’s world – listening to both sides of the talent equation to understand the real issues and find solutions for engaging and hiring better people. Today, she uses her technical marketing know-how and way with words to help both established and emerging brands develop and deliver content that fuels smart recruitment marketing that makes the right people apply.

Katrina has written for Monster.com, HR.com, RecruitingDaily and many other digital publications. She is a recognized leader in recruiting and employer branding who speaks regularly at conferences around the world.

3 Comments Leave a comment

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  2. Great article. In the distant past I competed and held competitions for best job ‘ad’, sometimes with restrictions on amount of copy etc. and, on many days, wrote as amny as 60 ads in an afternoon…and followed their results over time. Wanted to sahre a couple thoughts as you go down this path.

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