Want a great hire? Start with a great job listing.

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One of the most frequently asked questions in the Authentic Jobs support inbox is “How do I get people to apply?”

While individual motivations are tough to pin down, here are a few things we’ve observed about applicant behavior.

First, remote jobs receive exponentially more views, clicks, and applications. People want to work from anywhere, apparently. Second, jobs with disclosed salary ranges receive more applications than those that don’t.. Unfortunately, not all work can be done remotely, nor are all employers set up for remote work, and salary disclosures are tricky.

Regardless of your team set up, the universal tool for boosting applicant quality and quantity is a well-crafted job listing. The humble listing is an overlooked art form. At its best, a listing reaches out and grabs the perfect candidate(s), and there is much rejoicing. Because it is an art form, there’s not a perfect formula for writing a listing, but there are some characteristics.

In this post, we’ll cover some of the components of a compelling job listing, and tell you why they work.


Frequently, candidates are skimming employment sites for posts that fit their interests and skill level. But they’re evaluating a lot of possibilities, and frankly, they don’t have the time to read a job listing rivaling the length of War & Peace.

Keep your paragraphs short, and use concise language. Use bulleted lists for required skills, responsibilities, and experience. If you can make it a list instead of a paragraph, do so.

Tell them what they’ll be doing

Candidates want to know if the job is work that they want to do, in an industry segment in which they have interest. Give them specifics. What are their concrete responsibilities? What is the specific product?

Of equal importance is telling people what your company does. Your ideal candidate may have no idea who you are, and just like meeting anyone for the first time, a clear introduction is best. Without using hyperbole, exaggeration, or buzzwords, explain what it is you do. If you build a product, explain what your product does.

While saying “We build life-changing synergistic applications for direct to consumer medical use” is an accurate description, it means very little to those outside of your organization.   

“We build software to help people monitor their diabetes at home” is the same statement, but no one fell asleep while reading it.

Blackbox explains their business concept at the very beginning of their job listing. It’s short, sweet, and to the point.

What do you expect?

Along with letting people know what they’ll be expected to do, let candidates to know what skills you expect them to have on day one.  It can be tempting to ask for an alphabet soup of programming languages, libraries, and tools, but how many of those are critical to the daily work of the new hire?

It’s important to remember that languages, frameworks, and tools are learnable, teachable things that are in a constant state of flux. It’s impossible for a candidate to have each and every one of them to an expert degree.

Be mindful of the timelines of your requirements. Requiring a degree and ten years experience in a programming language that has only been around for 5, will land you swiftly in an applicant’s “Nope” bin because it implies that you’re unfamiliar with the tools and the community.

To that point, highlight the opportunities and tools you offer to help your employees to grow their skills, such as conference stipends, book allowances, tuition reimbursement, and other education partnerships. It indicates that your company understands that new and different skills may be needed to keep up, and you’re interested in growing employees, rather than trudging forward with the same tools.

Talk about people

This job posting from Help Scout stood out for its clear description of the people who would be working with the new hire.

Not only did they name them, they explained how each person’s work would interact with the work of the new hire. Clearly explaining team roles in this manner lays out the new hire’s day-to-day, and it illustrates how different departments intersect.

Set yourself apart

While many postings highlight amenities like free beer and ping pong tables, applicants pay more attention to amenities like parental and family leave policies, paid time off, healthcare coverage, and retirement plans. Job seekers are looking for numbers, too.

How many weeks parental leave do they receive? How much PTO? Is the policy unlimited, or have you opted for a minimum vacation policy? Do you offer employer matching on retirement? 

This post from MeetEdgar explains some of their perks, and also links to an external document that explains their full benefits package. 

Show them the money

Being upfront about compensation helps applicants set expectations, and can prevent an abrupt end to an otherwise smooth recruitment process.

Authentic Jobs offers a “tiers” system that displays a range of compensation, and we find that postings that list compensation receive more applicants. Applicants know how much money they need to be comfortable, and these salary tiers are also a search filter, so adding pay to your listing will help your listing match with a candidate’s expectations.

Not every employer can give numbers in their job posting, but if you’ve got other forms of compensation, that’s certainly something to share. Much like perks, the more details you can give, the better.


Where do you want your candidates to be? If you’re a fully distributed company where people can work from anywhere, shout that from the rooftops.  If you’re running a time sensitive project that requires lots of face to face interaction with clients in a particular city, you’ll want to be upfront about that geographic restriction.

Further, be clear about your ability to hire workers internationally, and to sponsor visas for applicants. Authentic Jobs draws candidates from across the globe, and this information is very important for them.

Give directions

So now that a candidate is enamored with your company and ready to apply, what do you want from them? Do you want a cover letter or no? How should candidates submit portfolios? How many samples do you want in those portfolios?

Keep in mind, applicants who are actively job hunting may be submitting 10 or more applications a day, and a complex or overly burdensome application process is just another reason to skip your job. Make sure that you’re requesting only the information you’ll use and need, and make it easy for applicants to get it to you.

Remember that your job posting is essentially your application to the candidate, and so it warrants putting a few sets of eyes on your posting. Have your technologists evaluate the skills section. Have you HR rep make sure you’ve included important perks. Have everyone check for spelling!

By combining a solid job listing with a great pool of candidates (what can we say, Authentic Jobs users are pretty fantastic), the perfect match is just a few clicks away.

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Published on Feb 15, 2017 Filed under Hiring