by Jonas Polsky
I’ve spent a lot of time browsing want ads and job postings, and lots of employers are posting want ads that are so bad that not only are they wasting the reader’s time, they’re also wasting their own time. Here’s what needs to be included in a job posting, and what needs to be left out.
Salary - If a janitorial job pays $90,000 dollars a year, I would consider it over a graphic design position that is offering minimum wage. Including the position’s pay rate lets applicants know what they can expect, and “qualifies” leads for your hiring department. You don’t want to have a phone interview, then an in-person interview, then draft an offer letter only to be rejected because the applicant found out your salary and it was too low. Save yourself a lot of time and avoid frustration by including a pay range.
If you’re keeping the salary a secret because it’s so low that you think people won’t be interested in your job, then you’re doing it all wrong.
Location - Applicants are interested in their potential commute time, and want to know where they’ll be driving to, and if it’s worth it. Just like before, I’ll take a less-attractive job with a shorter commute, than a slightly-better job that’s 75 minutes away. If for whatever reason you’re not supposed to include the street address of the company in the posting (if you’re a temp agency, for example) include the general area in the city or the zip code.
Dealbreaker Requirements - There’s nothing worse than poring over a job posting for several minutes, only to read the final line that disqualifies me. If ten years of spacecraft design is an absolute requirement, or if applicants must be able to speak four languages, mention that as early as possible in the ad. If a job skill is so critical to the position that you can’t hire anyone without it, it should be presented as soon as possible, with as much emphasis as you can muster.
Full-Time or Part-Time - I’ve started drafting cover letters several times before I noticed the tiny disclaimer in the sidebar that a position is only part-time. There’s a huge difference between working 40 hours per week, and 10 (namely whether or not I’ll starve), so part-time positions should probably include that detail in the posting’s title, or in the first paragraph.
Now that you know the most important things to include in your ad, here are the details that applicants don’t care about, and should be excluded or minimized in your ad.
Company History/Mission Statement - “Since 1985, Bagels Incorporated has been an industry leader in blah, blah, blah.” This isn’t a press release, it’s a want ad. You don’t need to impress applicants with your corporate achievements, just tell them about the job, and what industry it’s in. Assume that every applicant will visit your company’s website, and see all your great awards and accolades later.
Corporate Culture/Parties - I’m really thrilled that you’re allowed to wear underwear on the outside of your clothes, and that you drink Bacardi for lunch on Wednesdays. I’m sure working for your company is a nonstop party, but right now I’m looking for a job that pays, and telling me about how your marketing manager has pink hair isn’t helping my search. Save the non-salary related perks for the interview stage.
Snarky Attitude - You may not be thrilled with the task of screening applicants and re-posting a want ad, but be professional. Yes, you interviewed someone who didn’t have a car, and they asked if you would pick them up each morning, but I’m not that person. Yes, you received stock cover letters from applicants who were applying for the wrong job, and it was annoying. Put your emotional baggage on the shelf, and address readers with respect. If you’re giving me attitude in your job posting, I’m already turned off about your company, and I’m probably going to move on to the next ad.
Example: “Don’t bother applying if you’re not going to answer your phone when we call to do an interview.”
Ad Length - Keep in mind that someone searching for a job is going to read a dozen or more ads every day. You can describe virtually any job in under 500 words. Some companies really do post four-page want ads, that discuss everything about the company from parking options, to maternity leave. This isn’t the only time you’ll be able to tell me about your company, so the dimensions of my cubicle and your company’s lunch policies can be discussed at another time.
Now that you’ve been on “the other side of the computer” and seen how applicants experience the information in your ad, I hope you’ll stick to the pertinent details, and make your ad a concise document that gives readers all the information they need, without wasting anyone’s time.