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Are These 5 Red Flags in Your Job Postings?

Your job listings are often the first impression you make on a potential candidate. It may be the first time someone interacts with your employer brand, and is the most direct way to get active applicants. What you write there might filter in the right candidates, or be turning them away.

With that in mind, it’s crucial that your copy isn’t making common mistakes that turn off applicants. Watch out for these red flags in your job posts.

Creative and Confusing Copy

You might think that a creative job title might help your listing stand out from the rest, but it’s never a good idea. Using standard job titles and industry specific keywords are essential to performing well in job searches. Calling your HR managers “happiness managers” or sales representatives “brand evangelists” is going to leave behind applicants who don’t find your posting in their search or dismiss it out of confusion. Even if you actually use unique job names internally, stick to the traditional ones here. Similarly, leave out jargon that is specific only to your company.

Not Including Salary Range or Pay Information

It’s a major red flag when applicants see that there’s no wage information in a listing. Phrases like “competitive pay” or “commensurate with experience” may seem standard, but they are very subjective. It can come across like you pay badly. Similarly, make sure that your salary range isn’t too broad. You want your listing to create accurate expectations and attract appropriate candidates, and pay is part of that equation.

In January of this year, New York City lawmakers voted to require salary ranges on most job ads but that the requirement was postponed until November 1. Pay-transparency requirements could help close pay gaps, but employers also share concerns about losing job seekers.

Unrealistic or Inaccurate Requirements

A common story of a job-listing failure is one that requires more years of experience with a computer program than that program has existed. Listing excessive requirements can make candidates self-select out, or make it seem like you don’t know what you’re looking for, or you expect your employees to do the job of multiple people. Do you really need a strict timeline of experience, or a certain degree?

At the same time, don’t go too far and lower the bar so much that you’re not getting the right applicants. It’s a competitive time for hiring, so many recruiters are sourcing with less strict requirements. Just make sure your listing matches the job. Keep your requirements accurate and flexible. Also think about what skills are applicable. A person working as a salesperson has skills that can translate to fundraising.

Burn-Out Culture Phrases

Using certain phrases can be misconstrued by candidates and lead them to think a job might have high turnover or the workplace is one prone to burn-out. Applicants may be especially wary of these signs now, with so many especially burned-out from the working conditions of the pandemic. Phrases like “work hard, play hard” and “fast-paced environment” come across like there’s a poor work-life balance. “Self-starter” seems like there’s not adequate support. “Do a bit of everything” comes off like you expect someone to do the job of three people.

Family Language

Applicants are tired of hearing that your company is just like a big family. First of all, it’s not true, and is an overused phrase. You’re not going to the holidays with your employees or to their kids’ graduation (well, maybe some of you are!). But the point is that it comes across like there is a culture of poor boundaries or work-life balance. If you are trying to describe your company culture, try to be more specific, and keep in mind that candidates are looking for a job or potential career track, not an additional family or a place to hang out.

There’s currently a high demand for talent, so job-seekers are likely to have their pick of what to apply to. Now is a good time to review your copy and requirements. Make a great first impression with a job listing that avoids these red flags and draws in the right candidates.

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