With over millions of job searches each month on major job boards like Monster, Indeed, and CareerBuilder, are you doing enough to make sure your job postings are searchable and stand out? When you think of Search Engine Optimization (or SEO), you probably think it pertains to online marketing and websites, right? You wouldn’t automatically associate it with job postings, but it’s just as important. Adding keywords to your job description is one way to make your job postings searchable.
Here’s how you can better optimize your job postings for better search results in three simple ways:
Do Your Research (Keyword Research, that is)
When writing your title and job description, it’s important to pick phrases that are relevant to your job posting. Phrases that are too general come with more competition and put you at risk for showing up at the bottom of the results page or delivering unqualified candidates. For example, instead of using basic phrases like “customer service” you should specify “customer service manager,” “call center customer service representative,” or “medical customer service.” The goal is to get as specific and relevant as you can to reach the most qualified audience (so you don’t have entry-level candidates applying for an upper-level position). If you’re stumped for keyword ideas, try out free keyword research tools like Google Adwords Keyword Tool to get keyword ideas.
Another way to research keywords in the job description is to look at competitor listings for similar postings and create a list of the keywords that they are using. Import your list to a free word cloud generator such as WordClouds so you can visually see the most used keywords being used.
Pick a Searchable Job Title
When creating a job title, you want to choose something that is simple and concise. Be careful not to use this an opportunity to “sell” your posting or get creative (eg: “Top Performers Wanted!” “Rare Opportunity with Great Company!”) because that makes your posting potentially unsearchable. Don’t title your job ad, “Chief Happiness Officer,” “Fashion Evangelist,” or one of these other ridiculous job titles. To better optimize your title, include the job description with career level or job type (part-time, full-time). Including the acronym to a job title along with writing out the job itself is also important. For example, if you’re hiring for a Registered Nurse, write out “Registered Nurse (RN).” By doing this, you’ll likely catch people who are searching out both of those common phrases.
Keep the job title accurate and concise (anywhere between 5 – 80 characters), and do not write the title in all CAPS. It is also important not to include any special characters unless you are looking for a C# developer. Keeping your job title simple, yet informative will make it easier to read and find.
Optimize Your Job Description
The job description is the meat and potatoes of your posting. A search engine populates the results of listings that have the most relevance, and relevancy begins in the description of your job posting. So how can you accomplish this? Using the results from your keyword research, pick 3 phrases and use those throughout the copy in your description. By using your keywords frequently, your posting will become better optimized and more likely to appear often. It’s also important to note that while you want to be relevant, make sure you don’t over-stuff your description with keywords so frequently that it starts sounding unnatural.
Indeed offers a great resource for writing job descriptions and even offers sample templates.
Make sure to include a strong, opening paragraph to explain the job and company culture. The ideal candidate is busy and doesn’t have time to read every detail of the job description so your opening paragraph needs to stand out and “sell” the candidate on the job early on. Be honest and do not exaggerate or underplay the responsibilities. It is also a good idea to provide an idea of your company culture that might attract applicants. Not only include employee benefits, but also the cultural vibe. For example, does your office allow telecommuting? Does your office have a dress down policy? Mention any benefit that would set your organization apart from your competitors. If you want to see more on this topic see our article on Why Employment Branding is Essential for the Job Recruitment.
Optimizing a job posting can be time-consuming. If you need help with writing one or are not sure which keywords are the best for your posting, you can always consult with your marketing department for optimization help. They’ll be your best resource for helping you craft a searchable and creative job posting.
Recruiting, hiring, and onboarding are the three stages in the path to acquiring a happy, productive employee. At its core, each is about making a connection. A thorough understanding of the psychology of communication is the greatest tool one has in ensuring the success of this process.
How to Recruit
Find Job Candidates
Potential applicants typically fall into one of three groups: active candidates, passive candidates, and current employees. While recruiting tactics differ for each, most candidates are motivated by the same basic needs. However, the avenue for finding each type of candidate will differ.
About 30% of the global workforce is made up of active candidates. These are people who are pounding the pavement (or the keyboard) in search of a new job. They may be unemployed or unsatisfied in their current position. Active candidates are more ‘traditional’ in that they can be found at career fairs and on Internet job boards. They’re checking out careers pages to see what’s available. And they’re highly motivated to find something, often as quickly as possible. Although active candidates are often seen as less desirable than passive candidates, there are plenty of brilliant people out there who are looking for a new career. A layoff or temporary unemployment shouldn’t give hiring managers pause unless there are larger problems.
This type of candidate has been on the rise largely due to social media channels. Social networking has given companies access to the information and professional details of people who aren’t necessarily looking to find a new career. It offers an entirely new area of recruiting, and there are new and different rules for how to recruit these passive candidates. The first step in recruiting a passive candidate is getting that person’s attention. In order to do that, you’ll need to understand the intrinsic motivation of that person. How? By starting a conversation.
Promoting a current employee isn’t typically thought of as “recruiting,” but the same techniques and strategies often apply. A current employee who is happy in his or her position may take some persuading, so the same techniques apply. These candidates can be among the easiest to recruit, and it’s one of the best ways to fill positions. Other employees will see that their colleague’s work has been rewarded, and will be motivated to work harder in pursuit of their own professional goals.
Assess Job Candidates
The usefulness of personality tests for corporate recruiting is hotly debated. While it shouldn’t necessarily be the deciding factor, it can provide advantageous information if a company knows what it is looking for. The best corporate personality test provides insights into the strengths and potential weaknesses of a candidate.
Cultural fit plays a huge role in the success of a new hire. If a candidate doesn’t feel like he or she fits in, it will be difficult to prosper in the position. Corporate culture doesn’t happen by chance. It has to be defined by stakeholders and promoted internally and externally. Potential applicants will judge a company based on the culture it portrays, which is why a clear and appealing brand persona is a must.
Hiring managers should be aware of any propensity they have for unconscious bias in hiring. Bias is an inescapable part of being human; everyone harbors some kind of bias. Recruiters and managers need to know about any bias they are particularly susceptible to, so that they can avoid flawed logic when assessing candidates.
How to Hire
Know the Market
The job market has changed dramatically over the past twenty years. Corporations no longer hold all of the cards. Instead of remaining lifelong employees, Millennials change jobs frequently, often in as little as two to five years. Employers have to sell themselves just as much as candidates do. The key to a successful sales pitch lies in knowing one’s audience.
Know the Candidates
So what, exactly, are today’s job candidates looking for? There are dozens of articles out there covering the broad strokes. Employees want to work for companies that care about work-life balance, that are giving back to society, and that share similar values. There are also basic needs the recruitment process must meet. Will the candidate make enough money to live nearby? What kind of job security is offered? Once these essentials are guaranteed, recruiters must figure out how to recruit a candidate based on that person’s unique goals.
The hiring process should be a dialogue. The company and the potential new hire are each seeking something out of the relationship. Want to know how to get a candidate to accept a job offer? Make sure the offer is tailored to what that person wants from a career. The only way to discover that is to ask!
Know the Needs
It can be tempting to cram an incredible person into a role that just isn’t the right fit. That’s not to say that a brilliant person shouldn’t be snatched up when one is encountered. However, that person may need flexibility within the role to exercise his or her brilliance.
By the same token, companies often tend go overboard on their lists of ‘requirements’ when writing a job posting. This can discourage wonderful candidates who may be perfectly qualified for the position. Assess the needs of the position with a critical eye and determine which qualities contribute to success. Does the receptionist really need a college degree, or is an outgoing, people-pleasing personality more of a priority? Be realistic and open to candidates who don’t precisely fit the profile to find those diamonds in the rough.
How to Onboard
Onboarding is an ongoing process. But those first few weeks are key to successfully integrate a new hire into a company. Onboarding new employees is a group effort. A new hire is taking on not just different job duties, but finding his or her place within a small group. “Office politics” aren’t optional, as much as one might wish them to be. Instead of fighting it, companies should teach new employees the informal norms as well as the written rules.
Mentoring programs, lunch and learns, and socialization opportunities are critical to help new hires find their niche within the larger spheres of their departments and the company as a whole. Onboarding can start well before the first day of work. Onboarding software takes care of the paperwork, signatures, and information dissemination so that the new hire can get going from day one.
Like corporate culture, onboarding is going to happen whether it’s intentional or not. Companies need to control and formalize the onboarding process so they can help new hires succeed. When a company develops strategies around how to recruit, hire, and onboard a new employee, the processes should be seamless and cohesive. The trick is to retain the human element. Human resources and hiring managers are not going to be automated anytime soon. Give each applicant a chance to stand on his or her own merits, tailor an offer to the individual’s needs, and check in frequently for a successful onboarding experience.
Ten Tips to Succeed
- Sell the Company. Applicants have options. What’s the unique selling proposition? And how does it match the needs of the applicant?
- Try Multiple Avenues. Superstars can be found on LinkedIn, at career fairs, and in the office.
- Use Data. A flooded inbox is overwhelming. Online applications, pre-screener questionnaires, and resume keywords can score and rank and unqualified candidates. An applicant tracking system does much of this automatically.
- Stay in Touch. Communication is key. (Did we say that already?). Stay in touch with past applicants. Respond to current applicants to keep them abreast of what’s happening. Thank applicants for their time.
- Avoid Bias. Bias takes many forms. Recruiters need to be aware of their own.
- Don’t Underestimate Active Candidates. Motivated, interested applicants take time to reach out to the company. That’s worth a second look.
- Communicate. Candidates shouldn’t slip by just because they aren’t getting what they way. Encourage applicants to talk about what works (and doesn’t work) for them.
- Analyze Needs. Know what the company wants before listing the job. Job postings overloaded with must-haves rule out candidates who may be perfect.
- Promote Corporate Culture. Company values can be a determining factor in whether or not someone applies for or accepts a job. It can persuade someone to accept an offer. And it sets the stage for successful (or unsuccessful) onboarding.
- Stay Engaged. New hires need nurturing. Check in regularly with the employee, manager, and colleagues to ensure that everything is going well.
- Following these simple tips can make a difficult situation easier all around. The power dynamic isn’t easily navigated, but mutual respect (and communication!) can lead to happier outcomes.
Job openings today are frequently hyperspecialized, making it even harder to identify and hire qualified talent. Your network – and your colleagues’ networks – can be one of the best sources for applicants. For candidates who are experts in a certain area, professional networking is especially important. Finding a niche job opportunity can be tough if you’re still searching the classified ads à la 1999.
If you’re a recruiter, you need to know the basics of how to recruit. First, connect with all of your hiring managers on social media. That gives you access to 2nd- and 3rd-level connections who may have the skills you’re searching for. A professional networking profile on LinkedIn isn’t an option for recruiters and hiring managers; it’s a must have. Expand your reach every day. Encourage hiring managers to use these platforms to share best practices, ask for advice, and get ideas.
Do you utilize professional networking to advertise a job opening? One survey found that 14.7% of talent mangers see Facebook and LinkedIn as the most effective channels of communication for recruitment. If even one of your connections shares a job opening with his or her network, you’ve increased your reach exponentially. As an added bonus, these network audiences are likely more targeted, since they are often colleagues or professionals working in a similar industry. This is a great way to identify qualified passive candidates as well. An applicant tracking system can simplify professional networking by posting open positions to your social media sites. The job is typically posted as a status update, giving you access to thousands of candidates simultaneously.
Professional Networking Beyond LinkedIn
Don’t limit your efforts to social media. If you have the resources, reach out to your connections. Cold calling doesn’t have to be painful. If you’ve never done it – or thought you’d never have to do it – now’s the time to start. It’s a lot easier than you think and can be met with great success. Write yourself a 30-second elevator speech, practice on some coworkers, and start calling passive candidates. The script is helpful to make sure you are saying the right things and asking the right questions.
The upcoming generation of applicants grew up in the age of social media and technology. Professional networking is standard procedure for them. Fluid and versatile knowledge in every kind of social and professional networking is a necessity for all recruiters and hiring managers. Stay on top of your social networks, post regular updates, and reach out! Remember, one good turn deserves another. Even if you don’t see an immediate benefit, you should be eager to help a stranger out. You never know when that person might become a valuable connection.
Are you an ENTJ? A Loyalist? Stronger in Activation, Command, or Ideation? Perhaps you’re an Advocate, a Maestro, an Inquisitive Innovator, or an Architect. Each of these labels comes from a different corporate personality test used to segment applicants and employees. The ultimate goal is to find the right person for the right job. But with dozens of personality tests out there, how do you find the best corporate personality test?
We turn to the science of psychology for the answers. The division of personalities into ‘types’ originated with Hippocrates in ancient Greece. The five-factor model of personality grew to its current form in the early 1960s. It is also called the OCEAN model, the Big Five, and the Five-Factor Model (FFM). Each outlines a person’s place on a spectrum of five traits.
The Big Five
There are several tests available to measure these traits. Some involve hundreds of questions, although one corporate personality test claims to need just five questions. This corporate personality test presents a list of statements, such as “I pay attention to details.” Applicants note how strongly they agree with each statement. The final tally places the individual on the spectrum of each trait.
Openness describes how receptive someone is to new experiences. An open person is inventive and curious. A less open person is more consistent and cautious. There is no “right” or “wrong” place to be. People who are more open to experience would be good at creative careers and jobs in which they have higher autonomy. They are self-motivated, always looking for new ways to improve methods. Want someone who will shake things up and think outside of the box? Find an open candidate.
A less open person is methodical, data-driven, and motivated to work through a difficult task. He or she is practical and likes daily routine and clear job duties. Jobs in finance or technology can be good for those who are low in openness.
Is your candidate efficient and organized? Does he or she seem more easygoing and relaxed? The best candidates fall somewhere in the middle. An overly conscientious person may have a hard time making decisions. He or she might focus on minute details in pursuit of perfection. On the other hand, spontaneity can lead to carelessness. A highly conscientious individual is self-disciplined and reliable. Research has found that conscientious people are more empathetic, as they think about how their actions influence others. They set goals and reach them, making them good at sales.
People who score low in conscientiousness might be better suited for creative jobs or careers with mutable duties. They roll with the punches and won’t miss a beat if something changes at the last minute. Jobs in social work can be good for those with this trait.
Extroverted people are energetic and enjoy attention. They like a wide breadth of activities and are quick to make connections with others. Extroverts crave stimulation through interaction. Introverts prefer to spend time alone and may be seen as reserved or shy. They are energized through calm, peaceful moments rather than social engagements. Extroversion is often seen as the preferred side of the spectrum, but introverts have strengths, too. While extroverts might be a better choice for careers requiring teamwork or daily contact with others, introverts are well suited for careers in which success depends upon their own actions. They are observant and think before they speak. An introvert might make a good writer, mechanic, or pilot.
Most people aren’t one or the other. Instead, they’re ambiverts. Candidates in the middle of the spectrum know when to assert themselves, but are also able to observe, listen, and work on their own.
This measure is a reflection of how much social harmony means to someone. Will he or she compromise for the sake of peace? Again, this is an asset in some careers but can be a liability in others. Agreeable people are team players. They are altruistic, willing to sacrifice for the greater good. Less agreeable people put their own interests first. This might be an asset for entrepreneurs or start-up CEOs. These leaders tend to be more transactional rather than transformational. A disagreeable person will stand up for his or her own opinions. He or she might be more willing to take chances on a long shot, despite discouragement. An agreeable person is easier to work with, but may not fight for an idea if it causes conflict.
Neuroticism is often thought of by its inverse, emotional stability. Neurotics are prone to negative emotions like anger, fear, and depression. At face value, it seems like this should always be a negative. Who wants a pessimistic person on the team? People who are not neurotic are calmer, less stressed, and more stable. So, are there any jobs out there for the more neurotic applicants? When paired with a conscientious attitude, neurotic people channel their worries into hard work. They do well in the academic world. A neurotic person has a tendency to brood, so they’re good at spotting potential problems. Don’t just reject a candidate who scores highly in neuroticism. That person is actually well suited to certain kinds of work.
One criticism of The Big Five is the self-reported nature of the questionnaire. Participants may skew their answers to get a “better” score. Remind your candidate that there are no right answers. Traits that are an asset in one job may be a liability in others. Throughout the interview process, use your candidate’s responses to validate results. Learn more about how to recruit the best employees!