How To Write A Job Posting: The Plate Test

Have you ever worked with a hiring manager that knows everything about how to write a job posting? Yeah, me too. They attend intake meetings with this air of confidence that says, “I’m ready. I’m prepared.” 

Then, they pull out the old job posting and start to read it to me. I know I make this face every time it happens, whether I mean to or not. I have no poker face. 

While I adore hiring managers for the intel they can offer, being a manager or reading a job description copied and pasted from 6 competitors does not qualify you to create job postings. To be clear, copying other people’s content is *never* step 1 of creating anything. 

The challenge here is that the hiring managers genuinely believe they are the in-house experts on all things for their requisition, including the job posting. It often creates a weird tension of expertise between hiring managers and recruiters. Recruiters are supposed to be the hiring experts. In theory, that would include creating hiring materials like a job posting.

Here’s the catch. Most recruiters aren’t taught to write a job posting. How can they become experts? 

Shameless Self Promotion: Take this course.

The Plate Test: Write A Job posting With Skill Stories

First and foremost, we need trust. Secondly? Training for recruiters and hiring managers on how we do this better. By showing hiring managers how great job postings are made, we’re subconsciously teaching them to trust and believe in their team’s expertise. 

It’s fascinating to hear how different the follow-up questions are for hiring managers. While recruiters dive into the details, hiring managers want to talk about skills. They don’t quite understand how to make it a story and skip the traditional years of experience.

A simple metaphor can help you explain (assuming you’re not hiring me to teach you how to write a job posting). I call it the plate test. 

See, when hiring managers think about bringing someone into the team, they are often reaching tipping points as far as exhaustion or bandwidth. They’re not in the best place to create skills-based content that’s explicit but also clear. They feel worn out. They don’t know where to start.

Ask this: “What’s coming off your plate when I make this hire? How about the rest of your team?” It’s that simple. 

We don’t make hires to have another warm body sitting around. We hire someone to take a project off of our plate, right? When you write a job posting, start by describing projects that this person will take over. When we begin to talk about work in the current experience context, it’s much easier for hiring managers to back off the standard requirements. They know precisely what they are looking for because they understand the work on their plate.

Try this next time you write a job posting with a new hiring manager. See how it can help you simplify the standard requirements and even remove bias from your job postings. 

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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.

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