Every month, as many as about 60 million job seekers come to Glassdoor to search for jobs. While ads can work wonders to attract quality candidates to your open roles, there is a lot you can do as an employer to ensure job seekers find your jobs postings online. Step one is to write a compelling job description to lure the ideal fit candidate to view and apply for your job. Then, you need to focus on SEO or, search engine optimization, to make sure your job postings show up in online search results.
Unsure where to start? Here are some tips on how to write your job descriptions so they are optimized for online search and show up on page one or two, where you want them to be. You’ll be a savvy SEO wizard before you know it!
1. Work With Your Hiring Managers: Don’t write descriptions – especially for new positions. Interview your hiring managers or ask them to complete a standard questionnaire. If they want to take the initiative, great. But make sure you get involved to ensure you’re inserting the language that will optimize the job description for SEO.
2. Pay Close Attention To Your Job Title. Most people search by job title, so ranking and page placement is critical to getting your job in front of the ideal fit candidates. Keep the title clear, concise, and consistent with other market job titles, be descriptive, and save the creativity for the job description itself. For example, instead of “Coding Animal”, stick with “Software Engineer” and avoid internal titles like “Business Unit Commander” when most would search for “General Manager.”
3. Be Specific. Describe a ‘day in the life.’ Is travel expected? If so, what percentage? Who will this person report to? Highlight personality characteristics likes and dislikes, and possible career paths of an ideal candidate. List all certifications, experience, or educational coursework, and specify required or preferred. You’d rather qualify out wrong fit candidates than write a job description so broad that everyone in the market applies and you’re stuck sifting through hundreds of the wrong kind of resumes.
4. Watch Your Abbrevs. Expand abbreviations, especially in titles, or else you’ll risk not having your job show up in searches. For example, write out “Senior” instead of “Sr.,” “Registered Nurse (RN)” in lieu of just “RN,” and write out “Vice President” in long-form. Remember what you call a job internally is not necessarily consistent with the market or how candidates are searching.
5. The Key Is In The Keywords. If you’ve been playing the SEO game for a while, you might remember the days of jamming as many keywords into your description even if they were stuffed at the bottom of your posting. Well, Google smartened up and now there are algorithms in place to ensure recruiters don’t get credit for those keywords when it comes to online placement. One recommendation is to write your job description first, without thinking about relevant keywords. Then, go back and replace or add the kind of keywords those candidates would most likely be using in their job search. For example, a posting for an “Enterprise Sales Representative” might include keywords like “account executive,” “fortune 500,” “strategic sales,” “complex organizations,” and multiple stakeholders. Use an online keyword evaluation tool like Google’s Keyword Tool for more ideas on what candidates might be searching for. Include these optimal terms in the page headers and in the first sentence whenever possible.
6. Location, Location, Location. Provide the specific job location in the description but note that if you’re in a town just outside city limits, it may help to cite both. For example, if your company is located in Wellesley, Massachusetts outside Boston, it may be worth putting “Boston” as the city in the job header for optimal search, but say “This position is located in our Wellesley office, just 20 minutes outside Boston” in the job description.
7. Sell The Opportunity. Remember, this is your sales pitch to potential candidates, with the hope that you land your company’s next star employee. Many job postings start with the company description instead of speaking directly to the job seeker. Instead, begin with an attention-grabbing first paragraph that clearly states who you’re looking for, what they’ll be doing, and why they should want the job. You can keep the “about us” section, but put it at the end of the description. Your message should be all about the job and the job candidate – NOT all about you.
8. Always Tell The Truth. Be honest in your description of what the day-to-day responsibilities look like. If it’s an Executive Assistant position in a support role, don’t write a description better suited for a Facilities or Operations Manager. If the job includes some not-so-glamorous responsibilities or requires extensive travel, night or weekend shifts, don’t hide them from candidates. Every recruiter or HR professional knows the only thing more costly than open positions is employee turnover. Don’t risk the high cost of employee attrition by putting the wrong person in the job because you weren’t honest in your description. Give candidates the right expectations going into a job to ensure ideal fits and high employee retention.
9. Showcase Your True Colors. Once you’ve dotted your I's and crossed your T’s, make sure the posting reflects your employer brand and inject some personality into the description. If you’re an established company rich in tradition, share the tenets on which it was founded. If you pride yourself on being a youthful up-and-comer, include employee perks, workplace environment, company culture and values. Most recruiters today say cultural fit is often as important if not more important than skills or experience when it comes to finding the ideal fit candidate. Make sure you’re clear about who you are as a company, what makes you special, and wave your flag proudly!
10. Formatting Matters. Make sure to use appropriate paragraph breaks and bullet points so it’s easy on the eyes. Be especially careful if you’re copying and pasting text into a rich text editor as it may require some manual formatting cleanup. Search engines like text, so your job descriptions should be 150 words at a minimum, but not so long you risk losing the attention of your job seeker.