Quick, look at the following real job titles found on company websites and tell me what they mean:
- Cnslt Sys Eng
- Tech Del Mgr
- Occ Ther Asst
- Phys Med Supv
- P2 Fld Comp Sup
While most of us in recruiting might be able to translate some of these abbreviations into actual job titles, the reality is that most candidates would be completely confused by what role we’re trying to communicate. They would definitely never search for these kinds of keywords within the major job boards or search engines when seeking opportunities.
The primary cause of most job-title abbreviations is corporate payroll/HRMS and ATS systems, which have short character limitations for the job-title field. In addition, their internal language for job titles may cause them to truncate all their job titles. Finally, our corporate desire to create acronyms for our job titles, which seems to help save space on organizational charts, carries over to our external advertising where it may hurt our recruiting efforts.
One of my current tasks is to help companies convert their job titles to “Google speak” so that the candidate marketplace can have a shot at understanding what companies really mean by these job titles. In addition, this enables companies to use candidate and marketplace terminology to help them get the most success when advertising their positions online.
Maximize Job Descriptions with the Right Keywords
Recruiters definitely need to know how to use the appropriate keywords in their job titles. However, don’t stop there. Make sure to have the right keywords within your job descriptions as well.
Getting the job function/title right is a great start and could double the response rate of applicants for any job. But including the skill names (multiple times if possible) and location names is also important in order to ensure the maximum response.
For example, if you are seeking an Oracle Database Analyst in San Mateo, California, include “DBA” (Database Analyst) in the title, as well as the locations near San Mateo, which could include “San Francisco,” “Bay Area,” “Silicon Valley,” and the related ZIP codes for that area to ensure that candidates searching online will find your positions.
Learning how to integrate all these keywords into your jobs is simple. By adding a “Similar Functions:” area and a “Nearby Locations:” area within your job description, you will optimize your chances that your job is found.
For example, if you’re seeking an “Account Manager” who might actually be more like an Inside Sales Representative, you might include “Similar Positions: Inside Sales Rep, Telesales Rep, and Account Executive” in your job description just to catch anyone searching for similar types of positions.
A best practice in building any job listing is to make sure the following data points are in the job title or description:
- The job title + any acronyms associated + similar or affiliated job titles.
- The job location + any similar location names + the ZIP code of the job.
- The skills required and/or desired.
Polluted Job Boards Compound the Problem
The reason writing clear job titles and descriptions is becoming more important is that many of the major job boards are over-polluted with jobs that aren’t relevant to what the candidate is seeking.
For example, if you were a Peoplesoft Developer and do a search for Peoplesoft online, you might find accounting jobs that require the use of Peoplesoft, or sales positions where they are selling Peoplesoft-compatible software, or recruiting jobs that specialize in finding Peoplesoft candidates.
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As a result, many of the boards and classified search engines have implemented a “Search in Title Only” feature, and/or have only indexed the job title content. This means that if your keywords aren’t embedded into your job titles, you could be missing out on 50% or more of your potential online job seekers.
This could spell real trouble for companies that do batch exports of their jobs from their ATS systems, because there is no way for you to change your job titles prior to pushing them out to the online job boards. However, you may be able to gain access to your account and can fine-tune titles after they’ve been imported into the sites that you’re advertising on.
Beware, however: you might invest an entire day updating all the titles on your job board location, only to find out that your daily import wipes out all your changes the next business day. Find out ahead of time if this is the case so you don’t lose a day’s work.
Here is a short list of examples with alternate titles that everyone should include in their job descriptions:
- Project Manager = PM, P/M
- Programmer = Developer, P/A
- Quality Assurance Tester = QA, Q/A
- Chief Information Officer = CIO, IT Executive
- Nurse Practitioner = NP
- Registered Nurse = RN
- Licensed Practical Nurse = LPN
Here’s a quick example of how to bundle the title and acronyms: “Project Manager (PM, P/M)”
Invest Some Time in Learning Job Terminology
To learn your “Google speak” titles and acronyms for your job families, simply spend time on the major job boards, go to Wikipedia, and of course search Google to find out how other companies are describing the same jobs that you are promoting. Build up your own library of terms for future reference.
At a minimum, identify clearly abbreviated titles within your own position descriptions, and make the easy changes to your job titles. You’ll likely see some very quick results and a rapid increase in your applicants.
Measure the average number of job applicants prior to investing your time so you can show improvements and make a case for investing more time or effort into this important area of your recruiting strategy.
TTFN. Of course, that is ta-ta for now!