The Dos and Don’ts of Writing Effective Job Titles

The Dos and Don’ts of Writing Effective Job Titles


In a recent post, we touched on the five marketing best practices talent acquisition professionals should start leveraging on a regular basis. In adding to the theme of how recruiters can think more like marketers, this post aims to show how you can take a marketing approach to your job titles, as well.

To start, consider this: The best marketers know that strong advertising headlines are critical to the success or failure of their campaigns because headlines are what get an audience to click through to their landing pages. Therefore, in marketing, headline writing is key to engaging with consumers and optimizing their company’s return on investment.

Like headlines, your job titles intrigue candidates, trigger engagement with job postings and help job seekers decide whether they want to apply to your open position. As a result, strong job titles are critical to the success or failure of your job postings and are key to optimizing your recruitment marketing ROI.

In order help talent acquisition professionals more easily craft their headlines, we sat down with some of our in-house recruitment marketing experts to bring you the dos and don’ts of writing strong and effective job titles:

  • DO: Include common abbreviations in your job title along with the fully-spelled out version of that word. If a job is well-known by a particular abbreviation (for instance, an RN or a CPA), job seekers will often include those abbreviations in their searches, so satisfying both needs is key. For instance, when posting a job for a registered nurse, consider using “Registered Nurse, RN”. 
  • DON’T: Rely solely on abbreviations. While you’ll want to use both a full title and abbreviation wherever it makes sense, try to stay away from using only abbreviations as it will seriously limit your reach.
  • DO: Include terminology that can prequalify a candidate before they click. This type of language includes terms like “part-time” or “night shift”. Applying this best practice can help save you from paying for clicks from unqualified or disinterested candidates. 
  • DON’T: Use trendy buzzwords in your job titles like “ninja” or “wizard.” Not only will they lack in clarity as to what the job actually is for, they also don’t play nicely with job aggregators. Doing so may cause job seekers to have difficulty in finding your “social media ninja” job when they are actually searching for a “social media marketing” job. 
  • DO: Use relevant job titles that current job seekers will be searching for. For instance, if your company uses an outdated term like “stewardess”, then you’ll be missing all of the job seekers who searched using the more common “flight attendant” job title. Similarly, you’ll want to avoid using industry jargon that the average job seeker might not be privy to, and therefore won’t use when searching. 
  • DON’T: Use terms like “work from home” or “remote work” in your title. Terms like this are considered a “budget buster” because it will attract many click-throughs that aren’t qualified or are just interested in seeing what the job is all about. Furthermore, some search engines will totally exclude your job from their search results if it includes a term such as “work from home.” 
  • DO: Be as specific as possible in your job title. This means including experience level, type of role and any other modifiers that might help prequalify candidates and keep unqualified candidates from clicking through. For example, you might use “Emergency Room Physician,” in your title rather than just “Physician.” 
  • DON’T: Use terms that might get your job caught in a spam filter such as “event,” “career fair,” “be your own boss” and “make extra cash.” Search engines see these jobs as spam or “fake” and therefore won’t just omit them from results, but pull them off the search engine all together. 
  • DO: Create a unique job req per hire needed. If you have more than one open position under the same category or job title (i.e. you need two registered nurses) then post one job req for each position. 
  • DON’T: Use special characters like ellipses ( … ) or em dashes ( -- ). Using special characters like these can hurt your job postings relevance in the eyes of search engines as they often recognize these characters as code rather than important text. 
  • DO: Keep the title short. If your title is too long to fit the allotted space the employment site has provided you, it will be cut off and replaced with an ellipses. Tailor your titles for the space you have to work with, and also keep in mind the constraints of mobile devices where a good chunk of job seekers are starting their hunt. 
  • DON’T: Include a location in your title. Most job boards, aggregators and other employment sites will have a separate field for location. Including the location in the title can impact the relevance of your search, especially for job seekers looking to relocate to a new city that they currently aren’t located in. 
  • DO: Conduct a spelling and grammar check. Misspelled words in your title will make it all but impossible for job seekers to find--unless of course they’ve made the same misspelling as you.

Posting your jobs to job boards, aggregators and other employment sites is an excellent way to create greater exposure for your open positions. However, in order to be truly successful in your job postings, you’ll need an engaging and accessible job title.

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