I still remember the day I bought my car. I relocated from Virginia to Massachusetts in a small car I knew couldn’t handle the New England snow. I wasn’t making much money at the time so I kept putting off the purchase. Even more than the financial pain, I didn’t want to deal with the process of picking. The negotiation. The sales person.
Then, they predicted a snow storm and I panicked. I had to get a new car before I got stuck on the side of some road a couple hundred miles away from anyone I knew. So that afternoon, I asked to leave work early and went right to the dealership. It was dark when I arrived so there was no hiding my arrival from the hungry sales people waiting inside.
When I say the person who approached me gave off major “used car salesman” vibes, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. White button up shirt and tie, exaggerating the benefits and perks of every car I even showed slight interest in. Fast talker. Slicked back hair. It was pretty clear to me he prioritized closing a deal over what I really wanted or needed, suggesting that I could live without the thing I said I wanted most. It made me not trust him or the process, so I didn’t buy a car that afternoon. I preferred panic over pressure.
Overselling Benefits Feels The Same
That’s exactly what it feels like for a candidate when there are three pages worth of scrolling just to get through the benefits in a job posting. When you’re selling the gig a little too hard, they can always tell – and will exercise the ability to walk away, even when we’re scared of the snow that is coming.
I’ve spoken with so many people who have confirmed this suspicion. While the company thinks they’re making a sell, the person on the other side? They’ve been there, done that, and gotten burned by a job they thought was too good to be true. They didn’t listen to their gut and now? They’re mad and wondering – what could they have asked or done to suss out that this job was a dud? Why didn’t they know it wasn’t real earlier?
It’s all about candidate attention – you need to get it, but also keep it. The data doesn’t lie either. 60% of candidates leave your careers site and those long job postings have something to do with it. In fact, job posts that are too long (over 10,000 characters or around 2,000 words) have a click-to-apply of 6.7%.
Now, that’s a good and a bad thing. We don’t want everyone to apply, but we also don’t want the wrong candidates applying just because they want the benefits and not the job. Even if a candidate meets none of your requirements, they will see your long list of benefits and figure “I’ll shoot my shot” – which, typically, I would encourage for candidates to do… but in this case? Your ATS is going to be overrun with candidates that can’t do the job you’ve listed, wasting time for your recruiters, hiring managers, and the candidates.
When Should You List Benefits In A Job Posting?
Instead of sharing benefits in the job post, use the automation post apply to send more details about what makes you special or include links in your About Us that directs people to the highlights. Remember, people aren’t coming to a job post to find out about benefits, they’re trying to figure out if they’re qualified to do the work in the first place.
If you can’t make that edit and have really unique benefits, fine. List the benefits in your job posting – but they key is to not oversell yourself. Try being realistic and noting what candidates will actually care about while avoiding cliches.
There are plenty of benefits that candidates can expect your company to offer, such as healthcare and vacation days. Instead, try sharing benefits that candidates wouldn’t assume you offer. Take a look at what benefits your competitors offer and list any benefits you’re offering that are obscenely better than those. When candidates see your list, you want them to stop and reread because what you just said stands out to them – not get bored and scroll through without giving it a second thought.
What does your company offer that is special or created specifically for underrepresented groups? Does your healthcare package offer support for transgender employees, or do you offer paternity leave? Talk about it.
At the end of the day, yes, candidates want the basics: insurance, vacation days, sick days, etc. I’m sure they’d love your company-wide ping pong tournaments the last Friday of the month and weekly pizza parties. But they can get those things anywhere – at any company. I’m sure you even have an entire landing page dedicated to them.
What makes your benefits different from everyone else? How do you show your employees that you really care about them besides what’s expected? What makes people stay? Try asking your employees this question and incorporate their answers into your next job post. I guarantee you their answers will be more authentic than the benefits package you have been copying and pasting for the last five years.
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.