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IT Talent Shortage? There is an App for That

by
Philip Simpson
Oct 13, 2011, 10:01 am ET

If you have posted a position on a job board and not received the response you were expecting, you have probably been through adaptive preference formation to reduce your cognitive dissonance. To put it simply, you became Aesop’s Fox and decided that the job board you posted on did not work.

Posters remorse happens a lot when it comes to job postings, and as a result sometimes recruiters may not fully appreciate the power of advertising their open positions. In fact, when speaking about job postings, many technical recruiters see them as an ineffective way to attract talent.

Not surprisingly, a lot of the apathy around postings is directly related to job boards, even though over the years leaders within this space have adapted their offering to make sure that postings get distributed to more relevant candidates. Forward-thinking job boards have made significant strides in developing a solid job distribution network, and yet recruiters generally remain unimpressed with the “post and pray” model.

You cannot really blame recruiters for being disappointed in the results they are getting; however, there is a need to address the posters’ accountability in the whole process.

Job postings do work. They can attract great candidates both passive and active. They can also generate referrals. Passive job seekers often glance at the job email that arrives fresh in their inbox each morning. Recruiters tend to forget that they have a significant influence on the response quality they receive.

Over the last 12 months the number of poorly written postings being submitted to sites within the technology recruitment field has increased significantly. Fewer candidates combined with low-quality postings means poor results for everyone. As a result, organizations are investing more in the proactive searching and networking side of things, but not on postings. In fact the lack of focus on quality postings is getting worse, and some organizations are missing out big time.

Postings do have a place in the talent acquisition mix; they can even act as the recruiter’s recruiter if optimized correctly.

Below are some tips to help you increase your chances of success with job postings.

  • Write clear and readable job postings that clearly and unambiguously state the job title.
  • Place key skills or desired associated skills near the beginning of the job description field so they can be viewed highly in relevant searches.
  • Avoid the temptation to make your job postings simply a list of skills, as you may miss or deter potential candidates even where your job posting features highly in their search results.
  • Conversely, padding the job posting with overly descriptive content or irrelevant skills will lower the job advertisement’ss ranking. Although the job posting may match more job seeker searches, it will not feature as high in the order of results and thus reduce the response received.
  • Blend in the human aspect. Candidates within the technology world are generally more adverse to change than people within other sectors, even if they are in a role that they don’t like. Use your posting to paint a picture of where you are trying to take them. The more they know about the organization, the more comfortable they will be with the idea of changing roles. They want to know if they will fit in.
  • When you can, specify the rate or salary. Contract job postings showing a rate get at least double the applications than those without. Permanent job postings showing a salary get 20 percent more applications than postings showing no salary.
  • Where HTML formatting is available, use it to enhance your posting. Emphasize key words however remember less is more.

If you think about the content of your posting and the intended audience then you should see a dramatic improvement in the results you receive. Do not put a posting out there for the sake of it and hope something will stick. Put one out there to help someone find their dream role.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  1. Jeff Szczepanski

    Nice article. In general, it seems that many people posting jobs seem to forget the fact that a posting is in fact an advertisement. All too often I see postings as a direct cut-n-paste of the internal job descriptions including all the company specific acronyms and jargon. Such listings just doesn’t cut it and they certainly don’t attract the best candidates. To be successful and get the best candidates, you really want to think of the positing as a way to sell not only the position, but your company and your culture.

    We actually did some research on this recently and while it was specific to recruiting programmer and IT developer type positions (via the analysis of thousands of listings on our Stack Overflow Careers job listing service) we definitely found clear patterns to the listings that over and under performed:

    The three biggest factors associated with a high application rate are:

    - Culture description (5 times more prevalent among the well performing listings)
    - Does the work advertised sound cool? (As measured by the admittedly somewhat arbitrary measure of: “would we like to do this?” – 3 times more prevalent).
    - Concise language devoid of long bullet lists (seen in 20% of the high response listings and none of the low response listings).

    We also looked at negative influencers:

    - A plethora of bullets (46% of the low apply rate listings vs. 7% of the top)
    - Long, rambling wordy listings (31% of low vs. 0% of top)
    - Generic job titles (46% of low vs. 40% of top)

    Overall, the content of the listing definitely matters. We consistently see that well written job listings outperform the poorly performing ones by as much as a factor of 10x.

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