From digital marketing to engineering, companies frequently face big challenges in attracting and recruiting talented professionals who have the skills they need to succeed.

While there are no silver bullets for finding and hiring great candidates for digital roles, there are numerous things companies can do to increase their odds of success when using job postings.

Here are 12 do's and don'ts for job postings for digital roles. 

And to learn more on this topic, apply for a free place at our Digital Transformation Conference in London on June 14, which will focus on Digital Talent and Culture.

1. Do: describe what your company does and what makes it unique

For many digital professionals, what you do and why it's interesting can be what first interests a candidate in learning more about an opportunity at your company.

In describing what you do and why it matters, KISS (keep it simple, stupid) works best. Focus on the who, what, when, where, why and how, and do it succinctly. In effect, this portion of a job posting should be thought of as the elevator pitch for prospective employees.

2. Don't: talk about "changing the world"

Even if you truly believe that your company is "changing the world", let your description of what your company does make this evident instead of incorporating this overused and increasingly meaningless phrase in your job postings. The smart people you're trying to recruit will have no problem determining the impact of your company on the world if you describe what you do well enough.

3. Do: use a standard job title and make sure it's accurate

When it comes to job titles, don't get clever. Make sure your job postings use industry-standard job titles.

Sometimes, this can be more difficult than it sounds, particularly for creative roles. For example, there is a lot of debate about UX roles and job titles. In cases where there's some question as to the job title, ask for input from the employees who will be managing and working with the new hire.

4. Don't: try too hard to look cool or creative

While adding a dash of humor or creativity to a job posting is not a no-no – when done well, it can be especially helpful for creative roles and firms – be careful not to try too hard to look cool or creative.

Modesty is best when attempting to inject humor, irony or pure awesomeness into a job posting because more often than not, attempts that are overdone produce postings that are confusing, awkward or even cringeworthy.

5. Do: describe the skills and experience you want in a candidate

Far too many job postings fail to describe in detail the skills and experience the successful candidate will possess. Not including this information is one of the primary reasons job postings fail to deliver quality candidates who are capable of performing the duties of the job.

Specificity is key. For example, what specific software, tools and processes should the candidate have knowledge of? And how many years of experience do they need? Often companies don't include detailed enough information because the person who writes the job posting doesn't ask for or receive enough input from the employees who are best-positioned to know what the job actually requires. So it is important to ensure that there is collaboration between HR and hiring managers when this portion of the job posting is written. 

Bonus tip: be careful about substituting adjectives like "ambitious", "analytical", or "assertive" for a legitimate description of skills. These are not skills, and they can even reveal bias that turns candidates off. Fortunately, if skills are adequately described, ambiguous adjectives often become unnecessary.

For example, a well-written job posting for a data scientist role would probably not need to use the word "analytical" because a candidate with the skills described would obviously have a track record demonstrating analytical prowess.

6. Don't: use words like "ninja", "rockstar" and "guru" or state that you hire only the "best"

Words like "ninja", "rockstar" and "guru" mean nothing, and given that every company only hires candidates it feels are up to its standards, stating that you're looking for the "best" in a job posting is pointless. Enough said.

7. Do: post the salary

While many job postings do not list a salary or salary range, it's a seller's market for many digital roles today. Desirable candidates usually have no shortage of options – a recent survey found that 68% of high-performance employees are contacted about new job opportunities at least once a month – so keeping salary a secret in your job posting can sometimes even result in it being passed over.

Posting salary also eliminates the need to spend time dealing with candidates whose salary expectations aren't aligned with yours and could be especially helpful in attracting engineers, who, thanks to the hot market, have over the years become increasingly sensitive to and savvy about salary negotiations.

8. Don't: oversell your sweet digs

There are few people who don't want to work in a comfortable setting, but chances are that the awesomeness of your office is a lot less important to job candidates than it is to the person who decorated your office. So while it's okay to mention the basics about the physical environment you offer, don't make your office a focal point of your job posting.

9. Do: list benefits

Health and life insurance, retirement accounts and paid leave aren't sexy, but they are very, very important to many candidates. So be sure to detail them.

10. Don't: play up perks that could give the wrong impression of your company culture

While there's nothing wrong with an awesome ping pong table or hosting epic parties from time to time, companies should resist the urge to play up perks that probably aren't all that important to many good candidates. In many cases, these perks can even be turn-offs to talented prospects because they can create a false impression of company culture.

Obviously, company culture is important, but if your company culture is defined by perks, your company likely has a problem.

11. Do: explain the challenges and opportunities the job will offer candidates

Salary and benefits are generally important considerations for talented professionals who often have numerous options, but offering a high salary and generous benefits won't necessarily seal the deal if a candidate doesn't feel that the job will be challenging enough and/or offer significant enough opportunities for growth.

For that reason, it's incredibly important that a job posting explain what the job offers candidates beyond salary and benefits. Examples of things that can entice candidates include the ability to work on unique technical challenges that a candidate likely won't encounter elsewhere, or the opportunity to work on high-profile projects.

12. Don't: ask for a unicorn

The fast-paced and ever-changing nature of digital means that organizations are often looking for candidates who have cross-disciplinary skills and are comfortable taking on a wide range of tasks, even if it means learning on the fly.

But be careful about giving the impression that you're unrealistic in your expectations. Nothing will turn off a qualified candidate more than the impression that you're looking for a single employee who can do anything, anywhere, anytime. There are no unicorn employees, even if your company is a unicorn.

Patricio Robles

Published 8 May, 2017 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (2)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

13. Publish your stack. Ours is (the short version):
python, javascript, node.js, mongodb, redis, linux, aws and of course HTML and CSS.
https://www.freshrelevance.com/jobs/join-our-team

This is not about the skills that applicants already have. It's about the experience that they want to gain. Because if someone sees their career as within a different ecosystem (for example pure Microsoft tech) then they are unlikely to stay.

about 1 year ago

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sarah hannity, Marketing Manager at clearhill

I'd expand point 9 to ensure companies maximise their target audience; female digital talent exists too! Maternity benefits and flexible working are especially important to women, so highlighting that a company understands this and caters to it could increase their recruitment pool. Like you say, having a pool table and beer fridge is cool, but if parents can tweak their working hours around the school run they're likely to be much happier employees and much happier to stay.

about 1 year ago

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