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Crafting strong job postings to attract candidates


Posted by Drew Terry
Create strong job postings to attract candidates

Have you ever thought about your brand and the brand of your organization?

Brand is the reputation you hope to build and maintain.

Brand perception, on the other hand, is how others see you. Everything you do affects your brand perception. Your interactions with others, the LinkedIn post you shared last night or even how you interact in a store impact your personal brand. For an organization, that includes the tone in corporate communications, website appearance, patient satisfaction - even its pandemic response.

As a physician recruiter, each word and action you take contributes to your candidates’ brand perception of not only you but your organization. That includes your communication, interview preparedness and onboarding organization, but it all begins with the job posting.

The list below highlights a few ways to enhance your job postings to better attract candidates. This will also improve your organization’s brand to candidates and enhance your personal brand to both the candidates and your team.

Create a one-of-a-kind headline

Next time you write a job posting, try including a detail that indicates the opportunity’s uniqueness. Instead of stating just the specialty, consider how your opportunity differs from other organizations hiring for the same position.

Is it based in an area rich in outdoor amenities? Is the facility nationally recognized? Does the organization offer one-of-a-kind benefits? Try working it into the headline to stand apart.

Example: Family medicine opportunity within a one-hour drive of three national parks

Avoid inadvertent discrimination

It may seem surprising to some, but workplace discrimination continues to be experienced today, including within the hiring process.

A 2020 Washington University study conducted 60 in-depth interviews with Black medical doctors, nurses and health care technicians. The study revealed that the type of discrimination they observed relates to their position’s hierarchy. Respondents throughout the hierarchy, though, listed biases in hiring processes.

In another example, a 2018 AARP study stated 61% of respondents over 45 years old said they had witnessed or experienced age discrimination at work.

Analyze your job postings for language that someone may interpret as discriminating based on their age, race, gender, religion or other factor. For example, avoid language like "digital native," "recent graduate" or other labels that suggest age is a strong determinant in the hiring decision.

Also look for unintended messages in singular pronoun use. When they’re required, instead of relying only on he or she - or alternating their use, which can be confusing - use "he or she" throughout the posting. If the traditional "he or she" use reads cumbersome, consider adopting the use of "they/them."

Answer the 5W1H questions

If this sounds basic, that’s because it is. But it’s basic for a good reason. Answering who, what, when, where, why and how provides core information people look for when they want to know about a given topic. It’s why schools introduce the concept for research assignments and good journalists seek to answer these questions.

A job description is no different. As you write yours, review to see if you describe the eligible or preferred candidate, what the position is, when they’d start, where the opportunity is located, why the position is important to fill, and how to apply. And think from the candidate’s point of view. What is it they’d most like to learn by reading your job posting?

Write for clarity

Clearly communicate your job opening

One of the worst things that can happen is to unintentionally communicate something that causes a candidate to lose interest. To review your job postings for a clear message:

  • Rewrite when necessary - It’s often better to find a new way to include a point if a sentence or paragraph becomes a challenge to complete or isn’t quickly and completely comprehended when being proofread. This may involve replacing words that aren’t easily understood or carry multiple meanings, or breaking a run-on sentence into multiple sentences.
  • Avoid internal language - Consider whether your posting includes words, phrases or acronyms that may not be widely known outside of your department or organization.
  • Omit needless words - Removing extra words forces additional thoughts on word choice, but the more time you spend writing the message, the less time it takes the reader to understand it. Try relying more on nouns and verbs for descriptions, then layer in adjectives and adverbs when needed to elevate the meaning.
  • Use the active voice - Using the active voice helps two ways. First, it helps avoid extra, weaker words often required in the passive voice. Second, it strengthens the action in your writing.

Passive voice: The training was led by the program director for all residents in their third year.

Active voice: The program director led the training for all third-year residents.

On the importance of clarity, William Strunk Jr.’s and E.B. White wrote in "The Elements of Style" that "death is the highway caused by a badly worded sign, heartbreak among lovers caused by a misplaced phrase in a well-intentioned letter, anguish of a traveler expecting to be met at a railroad station and not being met because of a slipshod telegram."

Some of the examples and language sound dated today, but the message holds true. Are there word choices, misplaced phrases or sentence structures in your job posting that could keep a candidate from inquiring further about your opportunity?


For more information on how to better brand your organization, read:

Part 2 of this series: Is your organization’s profile working?

Part 3 of this series: Building trust with your candidates


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