April 1, 2004   view past issues

Our newsletter is
brought to you by

Feature: A Job Posting Even the Best Performers Can’t Resist

Here’s the good news: According to a March survey of 16,000 U.S. employers, conducted by the staffing firm Manpower, recruiting activity is finally about to rise. A net 20% of employers expect to add workers in the second quarter of this year, the highest level of workforce additions since the first quarter of 2001. Even better, that positive projection was reported in every region of the country and in all 10 of the industry sectors the Manpower survey tracks.

Now, here’s the bad news: Even as more employers enter the labor market and the competition for talent escalates, job postings remain the weak link in online recruitment. In fact, most of the job ads appearing online today are a sure fire cure for insomnia. They are simply classified ad copy or, worse, bureaucratic position descriptions re-purposed in cyberspace. They fail to take advantage of the lack of textual space constraints on the Web, and as a consequence, they have all the selling power of a brick wall. To put it another way, they do nothing at all to attract the passive, “A” level candidates that every employer wants.

How can you make sure your job postings appeal to top talent? First recognize that passive candidates and “A” level performers are unlike other prospects. Here are some of their differentiating characteristics:

  • They are usually employed and reasonably well taken care of by their current employer.
  • If they are considering a move, they do not look for a job; they look for a career advancement opportunity.
  • They know they’re good and, therefore, want to be wooed by employers and recruiters.
  • They often do not have a resume, and any resume they do have is well out-of-date.
  • They have the attention span of a gnat.
  • An effective job posting acknowledges these attributes. It doesn’t look like or serve the purpose of a classified ad; it functions, instead, as an electronic sales brochure. It provides a complete, persuasive can’t-put-it-down and simply-can’t resist-it expression of an organization’s value proposition as an employer. It uses all of the space available online-the average recruitment site permits up to 1,400 words or two typed pages of information in a posting-to convince the best and most reluctant to do the one think human beings hate to do … change. In effect, a good job posting can convince even the most passive prospect that they should switch from the devil they know to the devil they don’t know.

    To accomplish that feat, the job posting must have five sections. I use the acronym S-ABC-S to remember them. They are:

    S = Summary

    A = Advantages

    B = Benefits

    C = Capabilities

    S = Sign-off.

    Let’s look at each of these sections in more detail.


    The Summary represents the first four lines of a posting. Our research, here at WEDDLE’s, shows that if you don’t get the first four lines right, the fickle and easily distracted passive job seeker simply will not read any further. In other words, the summary must be so powerful that it takes the reader’s finger off of the mouse and compels them to invest the time required to finish reading the posting. To do that, it must have the following four elements in the following order:

  • A “knock their socks off” statement about why your opportunity is a dream job. Because “A” level, passive prospects only take positions that will advance their career.
  • A “knock their socks off” statement about why your organization is a dream employer. Because “A” level, passive prospects know that their career success also depends on the values and culture of their employer.
  • A statement about the job’s compensation, expressed in numbers. Because money is one of the ways that “A” level, passive prospects measure their advancement, so they are only interested in positions where they know upfront that they will progress financially.
  • A statement about your organization’s commitment to protecting candidate confidentiality. Because “A’ level, passive prospects are almost always employed, and do not want to precipitate a crisis with their current employer before they know if your opportunity is even worth pursuing.

    These elements should appear in this order because a growing number of commercial recruitment sites are returning the first two lines of a posting when a potential candidate searches their job database. Beginning with statements about your dream job and dream employer leads with your strength and gives you your best shot at getting that passive, “A” level performer to open your ad and read on.

    In my next column, I’ll discuss the remaining sections of a good job posting as well as some additional tips and techniques to enhance its effectiveness. For now, remember that a job ad online is a very visible, public representation of your employment brand. Therefore, invest the time and effort required to send a positive and differentiating message. An information rich and persuasive job posting tells everyone who reads it that your organization cares a lot about the talent it recruits and, by extension, the people it employs.

    Thanks for reading,


    This Issue’s Sponsor: Dice

    This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of Dice.

    Give Dice a try with our FREE job posting offer!

    Dice is where you will find the best tech candidates available.

    But don’t just take our word for it …. Try Dice for yourself – at no risk. Click here today!

    The Free Job Posting offer is available to first time customers only, posting jobs by March 31, 2004.

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its long-awaited definition of an online “applicant” for civil rights recordkeeping purposes. This definition is important, of course, because employers must keep track of applicants’ gender and race or ethnic group to prove compliance with Federal nondiscrimination law. According to the EEOC proposal (final approval of the definition will follow a period of public comment), three conditions must be met for an individual to be considered an applicant when seeking employment over the Internet: the employer must have taken steps to fill a particular job; the individual must have followed the employer’s stated application procedure; and the individual must have expressed an interest in the particular position. With recruiters drowning in resumes these days, it is the second of those requirements that is the key to sane regulatory compliance. To avoid having to keep records on every resume-qualified or not-that sails into a recruiter’s e-mailbox, your organization must clearly describe and publicly post its employment application procedure. This procedure may require that resume submitters first pass an appropriate skills test or other assessment for the position prior to being considered an official applicant. That screen, of course, must then be administered to every resume submitter at the same time in the process and in the same way. The mere existence of the test, however, will probably prevent many of most egregiously unqualified from even submitting their credentials, while the test results will identify who is a viable candidate, and it’s on those individuals that you must and should keep records. launched as a career site for “the $100k+ set.” Posting is free for employers. Job seekers get access to a newsletter with some employer ads for free; if they want to see all ads, get more detail about the ads or set up early delivery of the newsletter, they pay a $25 fee.

    The National Center for Health Statistics reports that nearly two-thirds (64%) of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese. Our bulging waistlines cost employers an estimated $12.7 billion annually. Obesity is also associated with 39 million lost work days, 239 million restricted activity days, 90 million bed days and 63 million physician visits. What can HR professionals do to help their colleagues recognize and fight the risk from excessive weight? Create a special area on your corporate Web-site (or, for added emphasis, set up a special micro-site) dedicated to healthy lifestyles and resources for individual weight management. For example, the site might provide a cookbook of healthy meals that people can easily prepare when they get home from work and are tired. It might also highlight special discounts your employer has set up with local fitness centers and health food stores. Most importantly, the site should make employees aware of the impact obesity and excessive weight can have on their own happiness and well being.

    Yahoo! HotJobs announced that it is searching for “The Leader of the Free World.” That’s right, the site is partnering with Showtime Networks to search for people who would be ideal prospects for the office on the new Showtime reality series American Candidate. To apply, you must be a U.S. resident and 18 years of age; other than that, there are no set qualifications to be “the Leader” … which may tell us something about the state of politics in this country. Anyway, if you want to apply, visit the HotJobs site. Oh, and the winner will receive $200,000 and the chance to address the country from a replica of the Oval office. Cool.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?

    1. If you were recruiting for a radiology tech for your hospital, which of the following sites would likely leave you burned?

  • 2. If you’re looking for a benefits manager for your HR Department, which of the following sites would fail to insure your success?

  • The Society for Human Resource Management (
  • The International Foundation (
  • 3. Your organization needs a new receptionist right away. Which of the following sites can you call on to find great candidates?

  • (answers below)

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2004 Guides and Directories

    Legal Career Center Network

    A WEDDLE’s 2004 User’s Choice Award Winner

    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes – All

    Distribution of jobs: National: USA

    Fee to post a job: Less than $100/posting

    Posting period: 30 days

    Can posting be linked to your site: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    Number of resumes: 28,000

    Source of resumes: Direct from candidates

    Top occupations among resumes: Legal, Executive

    Other services for employers: Auto notification of resume-job match, Banner advertising, Special area for HR professionals

    1., the site of a software solutions provider.

    2., a site for the city of Maastricht, in the Netherlands.

    3. None of them; they are not recruitment sites.

    This Issue’s Sponsor: Dice

    This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of Dice.

    Give Dice a try with our FREE job posting offer!

    Dice is where you will find the best tech candidates available.

    But don’t just take our word for it …. Try Dice for yourself – at no risk. Click here today!

    The Free Job Posting offer is available to first time customers only, posting jobs by March 31, 2004.