April 15, 2004   view past issues

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Feature: The Electronic Sales Brochure

In my last column, I introduced an alternative view of job postings. Since their creation in the early 1990s, these recruitment ads have been caught in a time warp. They are written today just as they were written then, with the minimal content and meager selling power of recruitment advertising in a labor surplus market. Our reality, on the other hand, is a labor shortage market, particularly among certain occupational specialties and superior performers. To deal with that situation, we must create job postings that act as electronic sales brochures. In other words, they must be informative and persuasive enough to get people to do the one thing they least like to do: change. They must be able to convince the most passive and talented of prospects that they should move from the devil they know-their current employer-to the devil they don’t know-your organization.

To accomplish that purpose, I suggested that you re-imagine a job posting as a sales brochure with five sections. As shown below, they form the acronym S-ABC-S:

S = Summary

A = Advantages

B = Benefits

C = Capabilities

S = Sign-off.

I described the Summary section in my last column, so let’s now take a look at the others.


The first secret to writing an effective job posting is to recognize two key attributes of online advertising:

  • People don’t read online; they scan. Therefore, you should write your content in headlines and bullets, not the thick, wordy paragraphs of the printed page.
  • The average commercial recruitment site will allow up to 1,400 words-the equivalent of two typed pages of content-in a posting. Therefore, don’t skimp; provide a complete description of the value proposition your organization offers as an employer … you’ll need it to sell top talent on making a change.
  • The Advantages section provides the information that was labeled Responsibilities in old fashioned classified ads. In an electronic sales brochure, however, that information is tailored with the WIIFT factor. It is presented in way that describes “what’s in it for them.” In other words, the ad addresses the responsibilities of the position from the vantage point of the candidate. It answers the questions that are most pressing to them: What will they get to do? Who will they get to work with? What will they get to learn? What will they be able to accomplish? How will this job advance their career? Those points are what sell a job to the best and brightest candidates.


    Most descriptions of benefits that appear in job postings (if they appear at all) are boilerplate. Everyone gets the same information, and that information is written in language only a lawyer could love. Benefits, however, are especially important these days, with some surveys indicating that top prospects would actually forego at least a portion of any salary increase from a new job for a better benefits package.

    There are two keys to presenting benefits effectively:

  • Always tailor your benefits description to your target demographic. For example, if your candidates tend to be younger and more interested in work/life balance, stress such benefits as advancement opportunities and flex schedules. On the other hand, if they tend to be more seasoned workers, you might emphasize a child care program or health benefits.
  • Don’t be constrained by the list of “formal” benefits managed in the Human Resource Department. For example, if your company has a great facility, then where candidates will get to work is also a benefit. If the company is located in a nice part of the country, then where they will get to live should be viewed as a benefit, as well.
  • Capabilities

    This section describes what was called Requirements in a classified ad. As with the presentation of Advantages, however, it’s important to apply the WIIFT factor when detailing this information in a job posting. In other words, the best prospects actually want to know what skills they must have to be successful in this position. They want to know what experience will best ensure their continued superior performance. They are keen to learn what personal attributes or characteristics will enable them to excel. It’s the same information typically listed as Requirements, but it’s reoriented to the candidate’s perspective. It is offered as information they want to know, as the answers to their questions.

    That stance, in conjunction with the in-depth information provided throughout the entire posting, positions your employer as one that actually has candidates’ best interests at heart. It differentiates your organization from those that seem-at least, from the prospects’ perspective-to see recruiting as nothing more than a transaction between buyers and sellers of labor. It imbues your brand with attributes that are critical to recruiting the best and brightest: an organization that is interested in, cares about and is supportive of them.


    This section must have four key elements to be effective:

  • A link to an online application form. The best talent is often employed and therefore does not have an up-to-date resume. Don’t expect them to use a resume builder, however; instead, offer a form that asks for no more than seven bits of data-just enough for you to pre-qualify them for the position.
  • Multiple response channels. Don’t force candidates to apply online-that may be the most efficient method for you, but when you’re recruiting top talent, efficiency is less important than effectiveness. To get their application, take it any way they want to send it: online, by mail, by fax or by pony express.
  • A referral option. The completeness and candidate perspective of an electronic sales brochure creates an “executive search-like” experience for the candidate. In essence, you’ve treated them with courtesy and respect. As a result, candidates who decide not to apply for the opening are often willing to identify others they know who may be interested in it.
  • The beginning of a relationship. Offer them the opportunity to receive an occasional e-mail communication from you that will keep them in touch with your organization and provide information about its opportunities. Such prospects are not applicants and need not be tracked for Federal reporting purposes, but collectively they are a reservoir of talent that can help you cut your time- and cost-to-fill in the future and upgrade the quality of the talent you place in your organization.
  • As all of the above makes clear, writing an effective job posting requires a much greater investment of time and effort than does your typical classified ad repurposed in cyberspace. So, why bother? The best answer I know to that question was actually provided by Jimmy Dean, CEO of Jimmy Dean Sausage Company. He said, “I’d much rather have to explain the price than apologize for the quality.”

    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 April 30, 2004.

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    Ceridian announced that 68% of organizations now employ older workers who have retired. These employers typically cite such benefits as the workers’ willingness to accept a flexible schedule, their ability to serve as mentors to other employees, their experience, and their reliability and strong work ethic. How do they recruit older workers? Interestingly, most organizations rely on employee referrals and networking, while only 7% use the Internet. That may be a mistake, because older workers are increasingly tech savvy and now represent the fastest growing cohort of new Internet users. Where can you look for them online? There are niche sites that specialize in recruiting such workers, including, and diversity sites like In addition, the usual suspects-Yahoo! Hot Jobs, and also undoubtedly attracting some of this “seasoned traffic” because of the visibility of their brands.

    Hcareers will power a new job board for the food service industry at Founded in 1996, is an online community for the food service industry. Hcareers is a job board for the restaurant and hospitality industry and a WEDDLE’s 2004 User’s Choice Award winner.

    HEALTHeCAREERS Network announced that it will power a new job board launched by a group of American Academy of Family Physicians state chapters. The new site is called It reaches about 30,000 family physicians in such states as California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. HEALTHeCAREERS Network is an integrated, online network of healthcare associations.

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology released the results of its annual survey of the inventions we hate most, but can’t live without. The winners are: the cell phone (identified by 30% of respondents), alarm clocks (25%), television (23%) and razors (14%). Others on the list include microwave ovens, computers and answering machines. My vote, however, goes to the VCR. I love to watch movies but can’t figure out how to use all of the machine’s functions or even how to get it to work with my remote. Worst of all, my kids have absolutely no problem getting it to do everything they want.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

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

    1. Donald Trump’s TV show “The Apprentice” has convinced your boss that you need to recruit more candidates with an MBA degree. Using which of the following sites might cause you to hear “You’re Fired?”

  • 2. Your polling company needs to hire a new statistician for the upcoming elections. Which of the following sites would likely be a miscalculation as a source for candidates?

  • 3. Business is booming at your auto repair shop, and you need to hire a new mechanic. Which of the following sites would likely be a lemon?

  • (answers below)

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

    A WEDDLE’s 2004 User’s Choice Award Winner

    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes – Part time, Contract

    Distribution of jobs: Regional: USA-Maine

    Fee to post a job: $101-200/posting

    Posting period: 90 days

    Can posting be linked to your site: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    Number of resumes: 15,880

    Source of resumes: Direct from candidates

    Top occupations among resumes: Finance & Accounting, Information Technology, Healthcare

    Other services for employers: Banner advertising, Special area for HR professionals, Status reports: Postings

    Answers to Site Insite

    1., the site of the Mountain Bike Association

    2., a site for those interested in sports statistics

    3. None of them; they all support recruiting for auto technicians and mechanics

    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 April 30, 2004.