Clear, concise job titles and job descriptions are not only important to companies and job seekers, they are an essential element in sound recruitment marketing. Job titles and job descriptions convey the delegation of job responsibilities, govern individual assignments, and delineate boundaries between departments and employees.
In recent years, many factors have transformed how employers and recruiters craft and present job titles and descriptions. These include the rise of technology and digitization, changing sensibilities within talent pools, a changing workforce, and the prevailing culture.
This article will address ways that recruitment marketing professionals can update job titles and job descriptions to ensure that these are optimal for the current hiring landscape. Identifying and detailing the top best practices for job titles and job descriptions will also showcase how hiring professionals can audit and edit their content ahead of the new year.
Best Practices for Writing Job Titles
In most cases, the job title is the job seeker’s first exposure to an employer, and that first impression matters. Job seekers typically make numerous assumptions and draw subtle conclusions about the employer from those few words. Additionally, search engines prioritize the jobs they show job seekers based on algorithms that include the job title.
Since so many job searches start on a search engine like Google, recruitment marketers must build out job titles to align with the search terms or keywords that job seekers commonly use to find specific positions. Keeping in step with SEO best practices ensures that recruiters will get their jobs to show up when people search for positions.
Like a news headline, job titles should capture the candidate’s attention and trigger engagement. Thus, strong job titles are critical to the success of job postings and key to optimizing recruitment marketing ROI.
Here are more recommended best practices for writing optimized job titles:
- Use relevant job titles. Getting noticed (and getting applicants) starts with the job title. These should help them drill down to open positions that align with their talent and experience. Researching the industry and the job titles that are currently being used is a great way to avoid reinventing the wheel (and making mistakes along the way).
- Keep it short and sweet. Job titles that are brief, authentic, focus on what matters most to the job seeker, and include language with broad appeal are more effective than longer, verbose titles that can engender uncertainty and/or confusion.
- Avoid internal titles or jargon. Titles that are company or industry-specific may not foster engagement in a candidate who hasn’t worked for the company or in that industry previously. Thus, these should be avoided. It is better to stick to common job titles for which candidates will be searching.
Tip: Avoid trendy buzzwords like “ninja” or “wizard” in job titles. These terms lack clarity and can run afoul of search engine algorithms, causing job seekers to have difficulty finding the posting.
- Avoid spammy language. It may be tempting to make the job title as compelling as possible, or even coercive. Giving in to this temptation can lead to spammy language, which can sabotage a job posting. Many words and phrases can trigger spam filters, but a good litmus test is to ask if the job title sounds anxiety-inducing, trashy, or creates a sense of urgency.
- Avoid special characters. Characters such as *&,!:;”() hurt search relevancy. Excluding special characters makes job titles easier to read and makes the posting more likely to match search queries.
- Be specific and clear. It is essential to use relevant job titles that current job seekers are searching for and which tend to prequalify the candidate before they click. This can include the experience level, type of role, and other modifiers that prequalify candidates and keep unqualified candidates from clicking on the ad. This can help to “fine-tune” the job title for successful searches.
- Include relevant keywords. Choosing keywords that are most easily associated with the position is imperative. To attract top talent, recruiting professionals should employ those that touch on the job’s responsibilities and help the posting stand out from others.
- Identify the level of the job. The scope of responsibilities relative to positions varies at different companies and across industries. Including the level in the job title (e.g., Manager, Director, VP) provides clarity and prevents over-or under-qualified applicants from clicking on an inappropriate posting.
- Maintain consistency of roles, titles, and alignment. This is similar to maintaining consistency in branding. For example, even though the language of a job posting may change across different social media platforms out of necessity, information pertaining to roles, titles, and alignment needs to be the same so that postings for the same position don’t look like different positions.
Best Practices for Writing Job Descriptions
After the job title, the job description is the chief focus of the prospective employee. Job descriptions should list key responsibilities but should also promote the company’s values and the benefits of working for the organization. Careful consideration will facilitate writing compelling job descriptions that convey the necessary information while managing candidate expectations.
The job description shouldn’t be a list of requirements, but rather a sales pitch to the ideal candidate. This approach “flips the script” entirely – from a passive to an active recruitment. Pitching positions to prospective candidates within the job description allows the recruitment professional to list the features and benefits of the job, as one might when pitching a product to a customer.
Job descriptions must be well-written and transparent, detailing roles as much as brevity allows, and in the type of language candidates currently use. As such, it is also important to review job postings and keep an eye out for any gender-biased keywords, as this is a cultural component that remains in constant flux. According to LinkedIn, after viewing a job, men apply 13% more often than women – “and the language used is often the culprit.”
As has been discussed in this space, today’s job seekers – particularly those in Gen X and Gen Z – have become far more discerning in how they vet potential employers, underscoring the imperative for heeding the information cited here.
Read on for other best practices when updating the job description:
- Keep it current. The workplace landscape is changing more quickly than ever, and language and terminology change with it. Additionally, overall culture changes increasingly demand language and terminology changes. Hiring and/or recruitment marketing professionals should audit job descriptions regularly to ensure that the content is up-to-date.
Tip: Fine-tuning recruitment campaigns and keeping these assets up-to-date can help increase employee retention rates by keeping the employer transparent about the role and the company.
- Differentiate. In addition to qualifying for the position and conveying hard information, job descriptions should also be used to identify the specific things that separate the employer from the competition. Changes in the company and in the position can also be highlighted to showcase what the company/role is like now, versus what it may have been in the past.
- Paint a picture. It can be helpful to think of reading the job description as a sensory experience for the job seeker that can fire their imagination. The space can be used to paint a clear picture for candidates regarding what it is like to work at the company, highlighting benefits and culture in particular.
- Prioritize from top to bottom. When candidates search for jobs, they first want to see pay and other benefits – in other words, what they will gain from working at the company. Here, salary transparency is particularly important, including whether the job is remote or onsite. Moving on, include opportunities for bonuses, tuition reimbursement, PTO, growth opportunities, remote work, etc. Then, have high-level information about the company and the role.
- Attention to detail. In the job description, it is vital to outline the core responsibilities and highlight day-to-day activities accurately. This level of detail will help job seekers determine if the role and company are a good fit. It will also further embellish the picture of the position that’s been painted, as indicated above. Finally, it is imperative always to review job descriptions for spelling, grammar, and flow. Errors in these areas can result in a drop-off in response.
Tip: The attention to detail also helps ensure a positive candidate experience. If the candidate takes the job, but notices it isn’t like the job description, their expectations aren’t met and will lead to a poor candidate experience.
- Avoid generalities. Similar to avoiding trendy catchphrases, it’s a good idea to avoid verbiage that is too general (e.g., “work with great people,” “reward follows performance”). Job descriptions should impart information about the company and what it takes for the employee to succeed. Recruiters are often surprised to learn that eliminating non-critical requirements can considerably open the talent pool without compromising the applicants' quality.
Tip for both job titles and descriptions: Because so many jobs are remote, this has become a big topic when it comes to job titles and descriptions. It’s recommended that hiring professionals include "Remote" in both the job title and an explanation of the remote situation of the role in the job description.
Job titles and job descriptions should be kept short and sweet, so keep in mind the optimal length for each. Job titles get clicked on twice as much in the 10 to 20 character range as those over 60 characters, and job descriptions should be 300-800 words. This is why it’s essential to audit and review job content every few months to ensure it’s up-to-date and optimized for top talent.
When properly applied, the above will go a long way to attracting top talent and ensuring a positive candidate experience from click to hire. If your company needs to re-evaluate its job titles and job descriptions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!