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Attract Better Candidates By Making the Job Listing All About Them

Job Descriptions

Get Better Candidates With This One Easy Job Listing Trick


If you spend any time reading through job listings, you’ll discover a lot of them read like bad dating profiles. They blather so much about what they’re looking for in a person, they barely mention what’s in it for a prospective mate, or candidate.

That’s no way to get a date—or sell a job.

Take a good hard look at your open listings. Do they paint an enticing picture that will captivate applicants? Or do they read more like a ransom note with a long list of demands and desired qualifications?

If you’re veering into ransom note territory, don’t worry. Simply use this trick: Make it all about them.

More than anything, candidates want to know what’s in it for them. How will this job benefit their career? Why is this the company of their dreams? Why is this a smart move they can feel good about? Put yourself in their shoes and help them connect the dots.

Instead of sections of your job listing that are “all about you,” try a simple change of POV to make it “all about them.”

Instead Of: Overwhelming paragraphs or long bulleted lists of duties and responsibilities. Save these for your internal description, not your public-facing listing.

Make It About Them: Think about why someone would be interested in this role. Write down five things that make it desirable, unique or exciting, and weave them throughout. Hiring a sports editor? Talk about how they’ll be interviewing important sports figures and attending big games on a regular basis. Hiring a social media coordinator? Mention how this is the ideal role for a social addict who loves being online all day.

Instead Of: Lots of nitty-gritty specifics about what kind of experience your desired applicant should have.

Make It About Them: Rather than belaboring the past, focus on the future. Mention opportunities for growth and where the position could lead. Talk in terms of career trajectory. Get candidates energized about the possibility of developing a long-term relationship with your company.

Instead Of: Writing in a dry, professional “HR” tone. It’s important to be professional, yes, but watch out. If you sound boring or uninteresting, potential candidates could ignore you altogether.

Make It About Them: Write in a tone that’s friendly, approachable, and yes, still professional. Write like you’re trying to sell a good friend on filling the role. Your enthusiasm should reach past the page and grab people in their tracks. Job-seekers want a passionate connection—are you meeting them halfway?

Instead Of: A long, default company description that’s identical to your “About Us” page.

Make It About Them: Talk about why your company does what it does. Give insight into the driving passion behind your mission, and get candidates excited to be involved. Limit it down to two to three sentences, max.

Instead Of: “Work well with a team.”

Make It About Them: Who you work with is often more important than what you do, especially since you see your co-workers every day. So, talk about the team the candidate will be joining. What makes them great? What makes their supervisor great? Why should someone look forward to joining this particular group of people?

Instead Of: “Competitive salary.” Ooh, this one hurts! It’s like saying: “I know what the salary range is, but I can’t can’t tell you because then I’ll lose all of my bargaining power.” It’s a big turn-off.

Make It About Them: Applying to a job takes time and thought, and nobody wants to invest that kind of energy if the salary doesn’t meet their requirements. So, take a deep breath and say the actual range. It’s hugely respectful to give this information to your applicants up front, and it shows that you care.

Instead Of: “…and benefits.”

Make It About Them: Include specific benefits, and not just tangible ones like health insurance and a 401(k). What are the intangible benefits? Are there opportunities for travel, networking, flexible schedule, working from home? How about hand-selecting projects, choosing team members or prioritizing deadlines?

Instead Of: “Apply now.”

Make It About Them: Time to show a little love. Your “Call to Action” is the sign-off of your job listing, and it’s a chance to make people feel really, really good about applying. Consider adding an encouraging phrase like “We can’t wait to consider your application” or “Yes, this is the job for you!” Candidates want a nudge in the right direction. Are you giving it to them?

There you have it. Put yourself in your applicants’ shoes, you’ll end up with a stronger job listing, every time.

Need more help? Check out “Why No One is Applying to Your Job Listing” and “Stop Losing Applicants by Avoiding These Job Description Danger Words.”

When you’ve got an A+ job description ready to go, head over to the Mediabistro Employers Page and put it in front of top media talent.