In today’s competitive job market, locating and hiring the most talented candidates is key to an organization’s success. So key, that many employers would rather leave a position open than settle for the wrong candidate.


When asked, nearly three quarters of 2,002 hiring managers surveyed in CareerBuilder’s 2015 Candidate Behavior Study admit that making a bad hire is more costly than leaving the position open. In a job market where 79 percent of companies report a shortage of critical talent in the current labor pool, according to Aberdeen’s Hiring Success Management: Moving Beyond the ATS report, that could mean a lot of open positions.

With the Aberdeen report also revealing 94 percent of companies think talent acquisition is critical to their organization’s ability to execute on its business strategy, it’s essential for companies to adopt new methods for attracting and engaging job seekers.

One easy and often overlooked strategy to source high quality candidates is developing dynamic, enticing job listings that engage candidates and bridge the gap between your organization’s needs and the job seeker’s needs.

Here are three strategies for ensuring your job descriptions capture the attention of the best talent on the market:

  1. Change the focus

New research published in the March 2015 edition of the Journal of Business Psychology, suggests job descriptions that simply list skills and attributes an employer is looking for — the “demands-abilities” (D-A) approach — may be causing employers to miss out on the most qualified candidates.

The study — based on responses from 991 real job seekers responding to 56 actual engineering and project management-based positions — showed job descriptions that focus on the candidate’s needs received three times as many highly rated applicants.

Instead of focusing on the D-A approach in your listings, consider focusing on the benefits the organization can supply for the candidate — what researchers from the study call the “needs-supplies” (N-S) approach.

Let the candidate know what you’re looking for, but keep the focus off the organization. Focus on things like career advancement opportunities, work autonomy, and professional development in your descriptions, to show candidates that you’re interested in making an investment in your employees, not just hiring worker bees. This will attract both active and passive candidates to apply to the job.

  1. Take advantage of video

Video is huge, and it’s only getting bigger. According to Cisco’s latest Visual Networking Index projections, online video will account for 85 percent of U.S. Internet traffic by 2019. That means if you’re not using video, you run the risk of being ignored.

Despite this upward trend in video consumption, not every organization is taking advantage of the benefits video can bring. In fact, according to HR Daily Advisor’s 2015 HR Technology Survey, only 12 percent of the employers with recruiting websites or job pages feature video.

Don’t be one of the 88 percent that don’t — especially since research published by Aberdeen in July 2015 revealed that video users enjoy 27 percent higher click-through rates and 34 percent higher web conversion rates, compared to non-users.

One great way to integrate video into your job descriptions and set yourself apart is to create videos that briefly follow current employees around a “day in the life” in each position you offer. Have the featured employees talk about how they feel about working for your organization and how they make an impact.

Not ready to go that big yet? Integrate a video message from the CEO, company culture videos, and video tour hyperlinks into your job descriptions, to help get job seekers excited about the prospect of working for your organization.

  1. Diversify and customize

Whether they’re tapping into personal networks, scouring job boards, continuously checking company job pages, or leveraging different social media platforms, job seekers are looking just about everywhere for jobs nowadays. To make the most impact with your job descriptions, you’ll need to use different platforms and customize your message.

For example, if you’re tweeting about a new position that just became available at your organization, your post will get better traction with the proper hashtags. Use “#hiring” and “#job” with other hashtags related to your industry (#PR, #IT, #Sales). The key is making sure the hashtags you use are popular. If you’re not sure you’re using the right words, use Topsy to see how the hashtags you’re considering have performed over time.

It’s the same idea for every channel. For job boards and your company page listings, make sure you include keywords in your job descriptions a job seeker would search for. For LinkedIn, make sure you’re taking advantage of relevant groups and communities to post your listing, not just posting it on your company page.

By customizing your job descriptions and diversifying your distribution strategy, you’re increasing your chances of attracting top talent where they’re actually looking for jobs.

What other strategies do you have for making job descriptions more exciting? How do you use your job descriptions to make sure you’re getting the best quality candidates?

Andre Lavoie
Andre Lavoie
is the CEO of ClearCompany, the first talent alignment platform that bridges the gap between talent management and business strategy by contextualizing employees’ work around a company’s vision and goals. You can connect with him and the ClearCompany team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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