Great Content, Poor Execution: The Latest in Job Posting Challenges

For the past few years, the e-Recruiting industry evangelists have been preaching the importance of well-written job ads for achieving maximum quality results. Our focus has been on creating a marketing piece that will compel the job seeker to open the ad (creative titles), tell them about what they will be doing and how they will be contributing to the company (job content, results orientation), and sell them on the opportunity with your company (company culture, benefits, vision). When the job seeker is done reading the ad, they are visualizing themselves in the position and submitting their credentials. For the most part, you, the recruiters have listened. In the past year, the quality of job postings has significantly improved. I chuckle at many of the titles, and often experience the “Wow, this sounds like a great job” feeling when I read the content. I still see a few job titles that in my mind are worthless – like “Programmer/Analyst” or “Sales Representative” or “Accountant”. And I still see content that says things like “C++ developers wanted, 3 years experience, Unix. Submit resume to” I recognize that not everyone wants or cares to be a student of the industry. I also recognize that it is time-consuming and cumbersome to write creative, thorough ads and not everyone has time, so they resort to the short, keyword-type ads. These recruiters may never change their habits. So what’s the problem? Well for those of you that are doing a great job, you can do an even better job. I consistently see three challenge areas still facing job postings. With a little attention to detail, these challenges are easily tackled. They are the Auto-Preview Challenge, the Company Web Page Redundancy and the They-Cut-Me-Off-at-the-Knees Syndrome:

  1. Auto-Preview Challenge: A number of career boards include an auto-preview of the ad in the display results. Usually it is the first 1-2 lines of the job ad. This is a great feature if the first line of the job ad highlights the specific opportunity. However, in an effort to immediately sell candidates on their company, many companies create a standard introductory line for all of their ads. They may read like this, “Here is your opportunity to have fun, be challenged and work for the fastest growing, most exciting and innovative company in the industry….” In theory this is great. In practice it defeats the benefit gained by the auto-preview feature. Job seekers, reviewing several of the postings from your company will see the same information in the auto-preview of each ad-not being able to distinguish one opportunity from the other. The remedy: Use this great introductory line as the second sentence in the job ad. Reserve the first sentence for a job specific intro. An example might be: “Senior software engineers who thrive on the challenges of developing and integrating e-commerce applications into existing processes will want to read further. Here is your opportunity to have fun, be challenged and work for the fasted growing, most exciting, and innovative company in the industry…” This format allows you to benefit from the auto-preview feature, while also highlighting your company.


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  1. Company Web Page Redundancy: Recruiters often write one job posting that will be used for posting to the external careers websites and the company website. Unfortunately, this can create content redundancy and an unpolished look to your company website. Most companies have a career section of their website that offers information on company culture, benefits, and working environment, eliminating the need to repeat that information in the body of each job ad. Job ads on external career sites need to sell both the company and the opportunity. Job ads on the company website need to sell the opportunity. The remainder of the career section and the website in its entirety should sell the company. A job seeker who is predisposed to visiting your website’s career section will peruse both the specific job opportunities and the “work-life/benefits” section. The remedy: Create two versions of the job ad, one that complements the format of your company website and one that can be used for external websites. First write the ad for the external website and then edit it down for the company site. It will take five extra minutes and will be well worth your time. Some of the more advanced Applicant Tracking/Career Management systems are addressing this issue right in the software. For example, the iJob product has a feature that allows you to create three different job postings for each position: the external career site ad, company web site ad, and company intranet ad. The job launcher will then automatically post to the selected venues.
  2. They-Cut-Me-Off-at-the-Knees Syndrome: All job-posting sites are not alike. While the larger boards allow for almost unlimited amounts of text in the job ads, some of the more targeted boards limit the number of words each ad can have. If we use job-launching technology to post our ads, we often do not realize that some of our ads are cut off in mid-sentence. If we post ourselves, we find that we are forever editing down our job ads-taking way too much time to post than is necessary. The remedy: Create all job ads such that the essence of the opportunity is communicated within the first 150 words. If the ad is cut off because the site limits the number of words, the job seeker will still have the essential information to make a credentials submission decision. If the site allows unlimited content, you have the opportunity to present more detail. In general keep ad content to about 400 words.

The trend is in the right direction. Recruiters are writing better ad content and are focusing on developing more creative titles. That’s just the baseline-the polish is in the execution. Understanding the needs of the venues to which you post and formatting the content of job ads to address these needs-will really make your opportunities shine.

Karen Osofsky ( is a co-founder of, an e-recruiting consulting firm that provides outsourced recruiting solutions to rapidly growing companies and new ventures. The firm provides a broad range of recruiting consulting, sourcing, screening, and strategy development services to help companies manage the front-end recruiting process. Tiburon Group is a Certified AIRS Solutions Partner.


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