I didn’t eat sushi for the first time until my 20s. I grew up in a frugal family and went to college in a blue collar town. There were few, if any, sushi restaurants. My first experience was at a restaurant with co-workers. In fact, I think it was my brand new boss’s welcome meal.
Imagine my surprise when I have to order raw fish and use chopsticks for the first time while I’m trying to impress this new person. I felt so lost. I had never eaten sushi before and didn’t know what it tasted like. Thankfully, my new boss stepped in. “Need some advice?” She whispered, noting my confusion and constant page turning. “I’d try a bento box.”
Thankfully for my digestive system, we were at a nice sushi restaurant and I fell in love with great sushi. When done well, it’s the perfect bite. Clean, fresh, distinct flavors. But since then, I’ve also had plenty of bad sushi – the kind where it falls apart, the flavors are muted from sitting on a shelf for too long, or they’re bland. I’ve learned to appreciate it when done well.
If my baseline was bad, I likely would’ve thought all sushi was bad and never learned to enjoy all the flavors. The same goes for job posts. You can write the best job post in the world but if no one knows what good looks like? They’re probably still going to complain simply because it’s different than what they have learned to expect.
What Makes A Job Posting Bad?
It’s obvious to most people what makes job postings bad. Even without much job search experience, you know the purpose of this document is to tell you if you’re qualified or not. Yet most job postings completely miss the mark on that baseline.
Instead, they are full of buzzwords that don’t have universal meanings. Buzzwords that everyone uses like collaborative and team player. Phrasing that is so popular I could find 1,000 job postings using the exact same sentence in a matter of seconds.
These same postings are often very long, too. It’s amazing how much someone can write when they have no idea what they’re talking about or what’s important to the person on the other side. I think most people assume a job posting is just a wish list of preferences and requirements, but when they’re good? That’s just not the case.
What I Look For In A Good Job Post
The baseline for a good job post is very low. Honestly, good just tells you enough information to say “yes, I want this job” and “yes, I can.” They are truthful about their requirements. Nothing more than exactly what it takes to be successful every day.
Now, I can’t take a glance at a posting and tell if you’re telling the truth, but I can tell you if you gave me enough information to answer the most important question: can I do this? There are 4 questions you need to answer to write a good job posting.
- Why did you hire this person? We don’t hire people for fun. What is their impact on your business? What goal do they own? That should be spelled out here.
- What will they do every day? Self-explanatory. They wake up in the morning, put on their pants, go to work. What’s it like?
- What do they have to know to be successful that you can’t (or won’t) teach them? This is by far the hardest question because it forces hiring teams and recruiters to work together to truly understand the formula for success in the role. (You’ll need this hiring manager intake to practice this process.)
- How much money will this job pay? Have you ever taken a job without knowing how much money you would make? No? Case and point. Yes to pay transparency, which is required if you accept applicants from any of these states.
Next week, I’ll share how to measure if your job post is even working.
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.