Why Most Job Board Postings Don’t Have a Prayer

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 3.28.22 PMRecently, I had an opportunity to do some consulting work for a nationally known healthcare enterprise that was struggling to find qualified applicants for a variety of allied health and nursing roles. The head of recruiting openly acknowledged that the organization relied heavily upon two fairly specific recruiting channels: The first channel, naturally, was the institution’s own website career portal. The second channel was, of course, job boards. Big job boards, little job boards, local job boards, regional job boards, and niche job boards; job boards of every size and description. Needless to say, the organization produced lots and lots of job board postings.

My colleague was totally flummoxed by the degree and extent to which the organization had become reliant on the “post and pray” methodology. Post a job, and pray, pray, pray that the right person responds. Let me say for the record that job board postings absolutely have their place within any organization’s recruitment matrix.

The overarching problem with job postings, of course, is that they embody an entirely static recruitment channel — in other words, you can’t control or force relevant candidate prospects to view or see your postings, nor can you control whether or not someone responds to your postings. As a result, job postings are the ultimate hit-or-miss proposition.

That’s why I’m such a big proponent of proactive recruiting techniques and approaches. If running a job board posting is an organization’s principal approach or “plan A,” then have a “plan B,” as well, in the event that job board postings don’t deliver either the number of applicants or quality of applicants desired.

Most organizations do a reasonably dreadful job of executing plan A in the first place. Job descriptions and job board postings are poorly conceived — they are boring, they are mundane — they aren’t especially descriptive, and most importantly, they don’t do anything to generate real interest or excitement.

In fact, some job descriptions and job board postings are so unstimulating that they appear to have been written by someone who would have preferred to watch water boil, or ice melt, or flowers wilt. Worse yet, they don’t compel a potentially talented applicant to take action and submit a resume or application for the position at hand.

Want to do a quick assessment on your firm’s job descriptions and job postings to see how they stack up?  Easy. Pull up a few descriptions or postings and scroll through them — then do the following:

  1. Identify the specific wording or phrasing that tells a candidate exactly why he or she should be excited about the position;
  2. Then, identify the wording or phrasing that characterizes the dynamic impact that he or she can make;
  3. Then, identify the wording or phrasing that makes clear how the role ties into the organization’s mission;
  4. Finally, try to identify the specific wording or phrasing that serves as a real call to action, and that compels a prospect to respond.

Were you able to find clear examples of these items? If so, you should pat yourself on the back and reward yourself by purchasing a new Apple Watch, because you are absolutely ahead of the game. With most job descriptions and postings that I’m asked to review, these items are completely MIA (missing in action).

If you’re going to invest any time in producing a job description or job board posting, why not attempt to produce something that stands the best chance of captivating a reader? Why not produce something that helps to set your organization apart? Why not create something that’s effective, versus something that doesn’t engage or resonate with prospective candidates?

Take the extra time to architect and build a thoughtful, replicable job description and job board posting methodology, one that gets prospects excited and differentiates your organization. It’s well worth the investment of time and energy. Well-written and engaging job descriptions and job board postings are far more likely to engender a much greater degree of response from prospective candidates, and more importantly from qualified candidates.

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Before and after:

a job description before I touched it up … click to open

here’s the “after” — click to open

  • Dan

    Before wooing a candidate or presenting them with an amazing experience and call to action, that candidate needs to first FIND the job. Always craft jobs landing pages, job titles and descriptions in the same fashion you would craft a website. SEO/SEM first. Test, Track, Report, Optimize, Automate, Repeat. At the end of the day, It’s not what one THINKS will work. It’s what works based on data and reality.

    • http://www.linkedin.com/in/kenjlevinson/ Ken Levinson

      Great advice Dan! Job seekers need to find the add, and then it needs to attract them.

    • http://www.linkedin.com/in/kenjlevinson/ Ken Levinson

      Great advice Dan! Job seekers need to find the ad, and then it needs to attract them.

  • Jessica

    I would love to see a follow-up article elaborating on your suggestions for “Plan B.”

    • Paul Siker

      Hi Jessica – As the saying goes, “Ask and ye shall receive.” I will write and submit a follow-on article that addresses all things “Plan B.” Stay tuned! Paul

      • http://www.linkedin.com/in/kenjlevinson/ Ken Levinson

        Love it!

  • http://www.talentcommunity.net/ Marvin Smith

    Unanswered prayers have
    caused me to lose faith in job board advertising. I am now agnostic,
    thinking about becoming an atheist. Frankly, I just don’t believe
    in job board type advertising in the twenty first century. The foundation of our faith is based on a faulty premise; that people who are not looking for a job will even see our advertisement for a job. Even if we tweak for keywords and maximize for SEO, the chances of a non-job seeker noticing an advertisement is slight, let alone actually applying for it.

    Society has evolved. Job board advertising no longer meets their wants and needs. They want transparency, conversation and relationship,
    not a cut and paste missive that is outdated and does not match the comments found on Glassdoor and Indeed.

    Change you beliefs. Stop hoping and praying for a miracle and
    adapt to the times. Giving people what
    they want may not be godlike, but it works in recruiting.

    • http://www.linkedin.com/in/kenjlevinson/ Ken Levinson

      Online Recruitment Advertising has not grown to over $15 billion a year because it doesn’t work. Much is dependent on the skill level of the user. Millions of passive job seekers have job search agents set up, so they can keep their eye out for exceptional opportunities, even if they’re not actively on the market. That’s just being smart. A conversation and a relationship will come for companies who allow pre-screened candidates to talk with them, join a talent community, and communicate with them. That will not happen when candidates apply into an ATS, never to hear from anyone ever again. You might enjoy this article that I wrote for JobBoarders.com: http://jobboarders.com/profiles/blogs/who-killed-job-boards-my-perspective

      • http://www.talentcommunity.net/ Marvin Smith

        Ken, our experiences do not match. I believe our reliance is online recruitment advertising is not based on success, but rather more of a wish and a prayer. I have reviewed data for the past decade that suggests that if more organizations tracked accurately sources of hire, they would discontinue all job board advertising, except for maybe Indeed and take the money and invest in talent sourcers and recruiters that know how to engage and nurture relationships with target talent (we may agree about the importance of the candidate experience). For enterprise sized organizations, the data does not your premise that people would not spend money if it did not work. We spend money regardless of whether it works or not.

        • http://www.linkedin.com/in/kenjlevinson/ Ken Levinson

          Marvin, I’ve checked out what you do, and I’m a big fan of talent communities. I think we should chat if you’d like to. At the same time, I’ve worked with thousands of companies over the years as a former job board owner, and know the success that many of my clients have had. However, over 85% of jobs that are posted, are posted in the manner that Paul speaks of, and if you know the expression, garbage out, garbage in, it’s very applicable when it comes to job postings. As an FYI, I created the first sourcing service in the world in 1996, and I know many in the profession. Every one of them I know uses resume databases found on job boards. A great recruitment strategy for any company is to make it so qualified candidates can contact you, and so you can contact them. Just as Paul says. Since you’re a stats guy, you might enjoy this study that shows job boards as the # 3 source of hires, and corporate web sites as the # 2 source of hire. Each needs content designed to attract the best candidates, if they want to maximize results: http://www.careerxroads.com/news/2014_SourceOfHire.pdf.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/kenjlevinson/ Ken Levinson

    Paul, this article is dead on. After running one of the largest job boards on the Internet before selling it in 2011, I worked with Enchanted Careers, LLC to create the Post Perfect Training Program, which helps to resolve this almost endless problem: http://www.postperfect.com. Paul, please call me at 561-434-3100, as I believe there are some ways that we might be able to help each other.

    • Paul Siker

      Ken – Many thanks – I will try to touch base with you Thursday. Paul

      • http://www.linkedin.com/in/kenjlevinson/ Ken Levinson

        Awesome, and I look forward to it. If you’d like to connect with me on LinkedIn and check out my background, my profile URL is https://www.linkedin.com/in/kenjlevinson

      • http://www.linkedin.com/in/kenjlevinson/ Ken Levinson

        Please don’t forget me Paul. 🙂

  • Lee

    Speaking of finding the ad, while the opening is catchy and interesting, it also includes a lot of words that could potentially dilute or confuse keyword search results by mixing in a company description with the role description. An effective post is one that balances SEO with engagement.

    • http://www.linkedin.com/in/kenjlevinson/ Ken Levinson

      An effective post is one that balances SEO with engagement is 100% correct. The post can’t be all about what the company wants and what the company needs. It needs to be balanced with what the candidate wants and what the candidate needs. The company needs to attract the candidate and visa versa. It’s so simple, and it’s amazing that more recruiters don’t get it. This is why our company teaches them how to recruit online more effectively.

  • Richard Nichols

    I’m a senior level iOS and OS X developer and I’d like to throw in my 2 cents…

    When I look at job boards I’m looking for specific post that have not shoveled in every current buzzword. I look for postings that are specific and don’t appear to be a form letter.

    Don’t tell me about how great perks and benefits are, generally most companies are offering the same or comparable items. Even the work environment is probably close to what everyone else has also.

    Tell me what is unique about the company and the project. Tell me if you are flexible (and mean it) about work hours, in most cities everyone wants to off-shift to mess the rush hour traffic jams and for most of us that is a deal killer! I have no desire to spend 1 1/2 hours in traffic because the company wants everyone in promptly at 9:00 am!

    Oh and one other thing! If you have a link to your site don’t expect me to fill out an online application first thing! I’m after information at this point and I just as soon move on to the next position and to spend 20 minutes ‘applying’. Just take my resume and contact me if I look promising.

    Actually my biggest ‘curse’ is the third party recruiters that search the web looking for positions. They go to great lengths to annoy and have stopped many applicants from applying for good positions! Basically always put ‘NO THIRD PARTY RECRUITERS’ on the listing.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/kenjlevinson/ Ken Levinson

    Paul, I posted a link to this article on JobBoarders.com, which is the largest social network for the employment web site/job board industry. I’m a Columnist there, and will probably write an article about it as well. A big part of our business is to help recruiters to improve their online recruitment content, and to have employment web sites/job boards care more about the quality of the postings that appear on their sites. So I sure appreciate those who promote improving online recruitment content.