I help companies write better job posts for a living. Here's how your business can improve its listings and attract a wider pool of talented candidates.
- Katrina Kibben is the founder and CEO of Three Ears Media, a company that helps businesses write better job posts.
- Kibben recommends companies be transparent and give context specific to the company and role.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Katrina Kibben, founder and CEO of Three Ears Media, a copywriting firm that teaches recruiters how to write better job posts. It has been edited for length and clarity.
My company does copywriting for recruiting. We teach recruiters to write, specifically job posts. I am getting more calls than ever from employers realizing how fundamental a job post is and that they need to know how to write one.
Don't underestimate the importance of a job post
During the Great Resignation, recruiters started to throw their hands up. They thought, "We tried everything we've always done. We posted the job everywhere. We made some phone calls. We poached people from this other company." But they never went back to the variable they could actually control, the job post. The job post is the currency of recruiting. You can't hire or fire without this document, and yet no one was taught how to write one.
Recognize and eliminate bias
When we lean into old tactics, we are actually creating the opposite output of all of these DEI initiatives that we say we want so badly. Job postings have this inherent bias. People want a diverse talent pipeline of qualified candidates, but they have not changed how they ask, and so those people are still opting out because history has told us that we are not qualified for these roles, that we have to be 100% qualified to get that job.
Stop using years of experience and other biased approaches and descriptions of work that do not provide universal meaning. Rein in a long list of qualifications and requirements. It shouldn't be a laundry list.
When people ask me if they should include salary in a job post, I ask them, "Have you ever taken a job without knowing how much money you would make first?" It's just basic human choice. We would never accept a job without knowing how much money we'd get in it. We cannot make a decision without that core information.
As far as salary goes, another issue is if the pay band is too wide.
The base should align with the basic amount of skill or experience a person should have to qualify for the job. That means no person who takes the job will make less than this amount if they can do X, Y, Z. Then you need to determine what skill or experience a person would need to check off every one of your criteria. That forms the top of your range.
While buzzwords have meaning, they do not have universal meaning. I'll jokingly tell people, "I'm looking for a highly collaborative team player to join our group of rock stars that will transform the world." And they laugh because we've all seen a job post like that before. The issue is those words say a lot without saying anything at all.
Instead of saying attention to detail, for example, provide the context in which the detail applies.
When I say attention to detail to a manufacturing line worker, if they don't pay attention to detail, products could be delayed. This could impact the company's distribution system, but saying "attention to detail" and saying "You impact our entire distribution system" are two very different messages.
I tell people buzzwords are banned, but in truth, buzzwords are banned if you do not provide context that actually tells people what they mean in that specific role at that particular company.
My biggest advice is to tell the truth. It sounds so simple, but nine times out of 10, there's some block between our head and our hands. We know what to say if someone were to ask us, but the second we start writing, we fall into old business language and trying to sound "professional." Write things that are real and true for success in that role, and your job postings will almost instantly improve.
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