THE TECHNACIOUS RECRUITER NEWSLETTER

July 15, 2004   view past issues

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Feature: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly in Job Posting Titles

The most effective job posting works with even the most passive prospects. It’s easy to write an ad that will attract the attention of active job seekers, but doing so for those who aren’t looking for a job is a much more difficult proposition. These passive candidates move around the Web at warp speed and have the attention span of a gnat. To connect with them, therefore, a posting must be able to bring them to a full stop online and then convey a compelling message in the blink of an eye.

I call such ads “passive prospect friendly.” To write them, it’s helpful to understand what happens to a potential candidate when they search a recruitment site’s job database. Recently, I visited a general purpose job board and used the following key words and fixed field selections in its search engine: project manager, engineering, northeast, $50-75,000 base salary. I hit the submit button and waited for my results. What came back, however, was not jobs, but a long list of ad titles, 140 of them, in fact. Unlike in the print classifieds, job boards do not display descriptions of jobs … until you click on an ad title. So, the first step in writing an effective job posting is to give it a title that will make it stand out from all other, similar ads and pique the curiosity of even the most passive prospect.

Let’s take a look at three of the titles that came back from my database search. They’re good illustrations of the good, the bad and the ugly in online ad titles.

  • The Ugly: Associate IV, Project Planning: EmployerCo: Cambridge, MA (I’ve camouflaged the employer’s name to protect the guilty.) This ad title has all of the sizzle of a brick wall. The name given to the job-Associate IV-might induce a desperate job seeker to open the posting, but it has absolutely no chance of attracting the attention or interest of a passive prospect. Such internal job titles (and their cousin, the requisition number) are meant for internal use only and cannot sell an opportunity to an external audience.
  • The Bad: Project Manager: EmployerCo: Collegeville, PA This ad title uses job seeker language to identify the position, but offers nothing to differentiate either the employer or the opportunity from the 139 other jobs on the list. Indeed, this title is so generic that its subliminal message virtually screams: “If you want an average job with an average employer, click here.” Hardly the stuff that will catch the eye of the passive candidate.
  • The Good: Senior Project Manager: Once-in-a-Career Opportunity: Storrs, CT This ad title includes the three elements that make an online ad “passive prospect friendly.” It includes:

    1. a description of the position using candidate terms so that they will quickly recognize the ad for what it is: an opportunity for them;

    2. enough sizzle to differentiate the opportunity from other posting titles and pique the curiosity of those who aren’t looking for a job; and

    3. the location of the position because passive prospects, in particular, are normally loathe to relocate.

    In essence, a good ad title is, itself, a micro-ad. It has both information relevant to the target demographic and selling power.

  • Today, most commercial recruitment sites will give you 50-75 characters for your title. While that’s not a lot of space, it’s more than enough if you know what to say. How can you figure that out? Go to the experts. While hiring managers know a lot about the position for which you’re recruiting, it’s the incumbents in similar positions who best know the prospects you’re trying to source. Talk to them and find out:

  • what words or phrases they would use to describe the job, and
  • what single attribute of the position or your employer would be most interesting to their peers and/or most likely to motivate them to open and read the posting.
  • These factors are very different from the conventional information about requirements and responsibilities we use to describe an opening. The only way we can get passive prospects to read that more detailed description of a job is if its title convinces passive prospects that it’s worth their time to investigate further. To accomplish that task, it must easy to understand quickly and singularly resonate with their interests and goals.

    Stripped down to its barest essentials, then, an effective job posting is a sales document. It can convince even reluctant prospects to do the one thing they least like to do: change. To put it another way, the best job posting is an electronic sales brochure that is compelling enough to get top talent to move from the devil they know (their current employer) to the devil they don’t know (your employer). That’s a hefty challenge for any ad, but one that can certainly be met, if you give your ad a great start-a good title.

    Thanks for reading,

    Peter

    A Final Note I hope you’re finding your WEDDLE’s newsletter to be thought-provoking, helpful and informative. If that’s the case, please tell a colleague about it and encourage them to subscribe, as well. I’d be very grateful for your support.


    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 July 31, 2004.


    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    TheLadders.com released the results of a survey of executives that probed their current views on stock options. The poll found a surprising ambivalence about options, with a quarter of respondents saying they would “prefer more cash,” a fifth saying they were “a nice addition, but not a big motivator,” and yet another fifth declaring they’d “prefer a package to include them, but don’t need them.” Add all of that up, and two-thirds of the respondents were not likely to be swayed to take a position because its compensation package includes stock options. What’s the point? Attitudes change. Four years ago, you couldn’t hire an “A level” performer without a raft of options in the offer. Today, the best and brightest are apparently motivated by other things. The key to recruiting success, therefore, is to make sure we are always up-to-the-minute on what matters most to the top talent our employers want to hire.

    The Society for Human Resource Management surveyed HR professionals to determine how organizations are managing the health plans they offer to their employees. Shockingly, it found that almost two-thirds of the organizations represented by respondents never asked for feedback from employees to determine their healthcare needs. Yet, three-fourths of the respondents said their organizations had changed their health plan designs in 2002 or 2003. The only conclusion one can draw from such data is that many employers are content to manage their plans in the dark. In the past, there may have been some justification for such purposeful indifference as collecting input from employees was often a labor-intensive and/or expensive proposition. Thanks to the Internet, however, that’s no longer the case. Hence, we in HR must ensure that our organizations tailor the services and products provided to internal customers with the same degree of care as that devoted to the products and service sold to external customers.

    Towers Perrin has published a new report entitled Human Resource Business Process Outsourcing: Is It Meeting Its Promise?. What can one conclude from its findings? HR BPO is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The oft-cited justification for outsourcing HR functions is that it will enable HR professionals to be “more strategic.” Yet, Towers Perrin reports that two-thirds of the study’s respondents felt that most HR generalists needed to develop new competencies in order to perform that role. I’ll wager that not many organizations are providing that training, and when they don’t, they are setting up us in HR for failure. So, here’s my advice: if your organization decides to outsource any aspect of the HR function (whether it’s benefits management or candidate sourcing), make sure that the budget also includes a commensurate investment in training to upgrade the skills of the HR staff. It’s that investment and not the outsourcing that will enable HR to become a strategic partner in the enterprise.

    VetJobs.com and The Herman Group are offering a Red Alert Employment Advisory with some very interesting insights on the War for Talent. The next time your CEO talks about cutting the recruiting budget, tell him or her this: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than one-quarter of all metropolitan statistical areas in the U.S. have an unemployment rate of less than 4%, and more areas are moving in that direction every day. With that kind of labor market, it’s a challenge to fill positions with warm bodies, let alone with top talent. The War for Talent isn’t some hypothetical threat or simply a metaphor for the difficult times in which we live. It’s a real war because there can be only two kinds of employers in a labor market with 4% unemployment: winners and losers … and no one ever won a war by cutting the budget.


    Section Three: Site Profiles

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

    1. The political campaigns have made professional fundraisers scarce, and you need a development manager for your not-for-profit organization. Which of the following sites would expand the reach of your appeal?

  • DevNetJobs.org
  • Philanthropy.com
  • OneWorld.net
  • DevZone.org
  • 2. You need an experienced Director of Plant Operations for your facility in Georgia. Which of the following sites would streamline your sourcing?

  • FacilitiesJobs.com
  • PlantPeople.com
  • OperationsPro.com
  • PlantWorks.com
  • 3. You need to recruit a buyer for your company’s purchasing department. Which of the following sites would provide the best deal?

  • BestBuyer.com
  • GreatBuyers.com
  • TopB.com
  • American-Purchasing.com
  • (answers below)

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

    NationJob Network

    www.nationjob.com

    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: $101-150/posting

    Posting period: 30 days

    Can posting be linked to your site: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    Number of resumes: 200,000

    Source of resumes: Direct from candidates

    Top occupations among resumes: Not Reported

    Other services for employers: Auto-notification of a resume-job match, Banner advertising, Special area for HR professionals, Status reports: banners, postings

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. All of the sites would be helpful with this requirement.

    2. Only FacilitiesJobs.com would be useful; the other sites do not provide recruiting services.

    3. Only American-Purchasing.com, the site of the American Purchasing Society; the other sites do not provide recruiting services.


    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 July 31, 2004.