How to write a job posting that brings in AWESOME candidates

It’s time to hire. No, really, about 50% of US hiring is takes place in early fall, or right after the first of the year. So I know a lot of folks are thinking about hiring.

If you are one of them, you are likely staring at a blank page and trying to write a job posting. If you’ve done this before you know that writing the job posting is hard. You don’t want to make it too long, or boring — but you know that most of the people who apply will somehow be barely qualified. You are going to end up sorting through a ton of resumes that don’t have any chance of getting hired to find 5 – 10 good ones that you are interested in.

I’ve got news for you. You are doing it wrong.

If you write a really good job description it will sort the applicants for you! That’s right, a well written job posting will attract the good candidates and repel the unqualified, and unfocused job seekers that respond to every posting on the job board.

Confused? Here are some simple guidelines:

1. If you want applicants to put work into applying, you need to put work into the posting.

I hate seeing job descriptions posted to a job board — as if a document that was written by a lawyer and an HR person is going attract good people. A job posting is a piece of marketing. You are marketing to good candidates. What is going to attract them?

2. Good people are looking for a hard job — where they can make a difference.

Think about your ideal candidate. What get’s them out of bed in the morning? What are they looking for in a job? Are they looking for an easy job where they can just cruise through the day? I don’t know any hiring manager who is looking for that! So make sure your job posting reflects the challenges and opportunities inherent in this position. What difference will the successful candidate make? What challenges will they have to overcome in order to do that? The right candidate will jump at those challenges if they know they can make a difference.

SEE ALSO: How to Write a Compelling Job Ad

3. Make your applicant jump through some hoops.

People who want to work for you (as opposed to people who just want a job) will do it.If you are looking for a candidate interested in your particular job and if you describe that job in terms that excite them, then they will be willing to go the extra mile in applying. So ask them to answer some questions (wherever they are submitting their resume, or in their cover letter) that help you to know that they are right for this job. Send them an eBook to read before the phone screen and then find out if they read it. If they can’t invest their time in the application what makes you think they’ll be a great employee?

4. Use the right label.

The headline is the piece of your job posting that will get the most views — make it unique. Go to your job board of choice and search for the job you are hiring for, then look at the titles on the postings. Now write yours so that it has the job title in it (so that it comes up in searches) but make it stand out by adding more. Establish that you are looking for someone special — from the get go — in the headline!

5. Show some personality!

There are definitely things about your business that make it different from other places people could work. It might be your culture and attitudes, it might be your hip office space, or your pet friendly environment, but there are things that make your place, your place. Put that personality into the posting. Tell them about your office pet, or your chili cook off, or Wed night guitar jams. Those are the kinds of things that attract the right people who will fit best, and repel the folks who won’t.

6. Don’t go blind.

Blind ads (that don’t mention the company name) don’t perform well. They get fewer candidates, and the candidates are lower quality. Besides, you are starting this whole relationship off on the wrong foot. Who wants to go on a blind date? Let people check you out (on-line of course). Those that like what they see will be better candidates. Besides, you’re fooling yourself if you think your employees won’t figure out who posted that ad. And they won’t like it either once they find out that you were hiding it from them. Just put your name on it and be done with it.

7. Put your budget out there.

You know what you want to pay this person, don’t you? (If not I’ve got a video for you.) So put it out there. Really, do you want a bunch of over qualified folks applying for your Jr. Position? No? Then put the salary in the job posting. Forget the idea of getting a “bargain” by keeping your idea about compensation hidden. For that tactic to work you’d have to find a fantastic candidate — a hardworking, go-getter — who also doesn’t know the market value for their role. These don’t go together.

There’s so much more to hiring than writing a good job posting. You need a great job description, and a written interview guide. Even with a great posting, you still need to put it in the right places and get referral partners working for you to bring in candidates. But a well written job posting will get you off on the right foot by creating a pool of higher qualified and better engaged applicants for you to screen and interview.

This month we’re giving away our free tool on How to Write a Compelling Job Ad. It includes a complete guide on how to write a job posting and includes sample job ads. Get it for free now!

Tell us about your most successful job postings!


  1. Alina Vrabie says:

    Love the tip about keeping compensation transparent! In one of our latest job postings here at Sandglaz we asked people to mention their favourite song in their cover letter. The posting explicitly said that it was to see if they read the full job posting. You’d be surprised how many people didn’t include it – applicants that otherwise would have had a great chance to be interviewed!

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