Crafting a Compelling Job Posting

Too often, job postings are simply a copy of the internal job description. They’re long, not too interesting, and aren’t going to cut it in today’s competitive environment. With fewer people applying for positions, you need to stand out from the crowd.

Your job posting is a marketing document. It’s advertising your organization and the great job opportunity you have. A generic laundry list of duties and requirements won’t excite applicants or tell them what the job is really like. Emphasize the job is about making a difference. And keep it to the point. Experts say a job description should be 500-600 words.


Clear Job Title

Make sure your job title is clear. Often that is the only text someone sees when they decide to click on a job and read more. Do they understand what you mean? Can you ask someone outside your organization what they think the title signifies?

Then write an opening paragraph that sums up the job and your workplace. This is key – you want to get the job seeker excited about the position.


Describe the Job Well

After creating a great title, take a look at the duties of the job. Cut it down to the top 3-5 responsibilities of the position. This isn’t the place to list everything the person will do. Remember, this is a marketing piece that you are creating to get someone excited about the position. Job seekers are skimming multiple job postings and you want yours to stand out as easy to read. They will assume there is more to the position but they don’t need to know all of that up front.

After you’ve written the duties out, make sure they are clear and accurately describe the position. Don’t make them so generic that they could describe any role but also don’t include jargon that no one will know outside your organization. Use a bulleted list so it is easy to read.


List True Requirements

We have a tendency to write a long list of requirements for a new employee and wind up describing someone who doesn’t exist. Someone who is great at big picture thinking is not also great at detail-oriented planning. You can definitely find someone who is good at both but we each have our strengths.

Remember that with each requirement you add to the job posting, you are eliminating potential candidates. Some people will look at a long list of requirements and decide they aren’t qualified when in reality, you would be happy if they met 2/3 of the requirements. Think about how to word your requirements. Some are truly required – a doctor needs to have a medical degree, and a lawyer must have passed the bar. But most are either flexible or so generic they aren’t worth mentioning. Who is going to read “great leadership skills” and think that doesn’t describe them? Instead, focus on the truly required attributes. Then you can add a few preferred requirements that are clearly labeled that way.


Be Inclusive

You want to attract as many applicants to your position as possible. Start by making sure you are using language that includes everyone. This means always using gender-neutral language, including no gender-specific pronouns. It also includes using clear language and avoiding organization-specific terminology.

Another way to be inclusive is to reduce your requirements to the minimum needed as discussed above. We often include an education requirement but in reality, a college degree doesn’t necessarily prepare you for working in a nonprofit organization. What skills are you really looking for when you request a degree? Would you rather hire a person with ten years of nonprofit experience or a recent college graduate? Could you instead say “5 years of experience in nonprofit management” upfront rather than leading with an education requirement?

Being inclusive is also about addressing accommodations in the workplace. Focus on what needs to be done, not on how to do it. For example, instead of saying the job requires driving between two locations, say that it requires travel between locations. Someone could bike, take a bus, or use a ride-sharing app to get themselves around. They don’t have to drive a car. Think about the physical requirements as well and whether they are appropriate. Does the person working in your office really need to be able to lift 30 pounds? Why is “sitting for extended periods of time” a requirement?


Include the Salary

Putting the salary in a job posting is critically important. It saves you and the job applicants time since everyone has that vital piece of information upfront. It helps people who aren’t as good at negotiating or don’t feel like they have the power to negotiate to know what the range is. And finally, it starts off the relationship between you and your new employee based on trust and openness. Here are a variety of additional reasons to list salary ranges.


Sell the job with all the benefits

Salary and employee benefits are certainly important and should be described. But how can you go beyond that and talk about non-monetary benefits? Are you offering the opportunity to work some hours from home? Can the employee flex their work schedule to accommodate other responsibilities? Do employees have opportunities for professional development? Do you have great staff appreciation? Emphasize those aspects of the position as well.

Include information about why you have a great place to work, too. Talk about your mission. This isn’t just a job, it is a chance for someone to make a difference. Share details about the culture of your workplace.


Keep the Job Description for Internal Use

The detailed job description is still a useful internal document. In fact, sharing it with your finalists will help them understand all the nuances of the position. There shouldn’t be any surprises, it just describes the position more in-depth. It also will be valuable for performance reviews.


Now that you’ve got a great job posting, remember to share it widely. Just like with donors, you can’t expect job seekers to find you. You need to go looking for them. This article has some great tips on the whole process.

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