Adhikaar team sidewalk

Photo: staff and supporters of Adhikaar for Human Rights and Social Justice

You carefully examine your organization’s needs and thoughtfully develop a new role.  You write a position description.  Everything gets approved. You post the listing on your website.  You share it on social media.  And… nothing happens.  Where are all the applicants?

We see this all the time: organizations devote significant resources of time and people to create a description for a new position or to fill a current vacancy.  Hours of collaboration and feedback result in a comprehensive document that does a great job of capturing the details of the position.  However, you’re missing out on potential applicants without a job announcement strategy.

What makes a position description different than a job announcement?  The former captures all the details a prospective employee needs to know about the organization and the role. The latter is designed to build excitement for the role, make it super-simple for individuals to apply, and get others to share the opportunity with their networks.

Here are our tips for a successful job announcement:

  • Lead with what the organization does. Assume that the announcement will be forwarded to individuals without knowledge of your mission, so put that information up front, and link to relevant pages on your website.
  • Spell out all acronyms and eliminate as much jargon as possible. Those inside or familiar with your organization might know what a certain word or phrase means about your mission, but don’t assume outsiders will have that same knowledge.
  • Eliminate insider info. Most likely, nobody outside of your hiring manager or HR team needs to know the requisition number or employee classification code, so be sure to remove those from the announcement.
  • Make clear the salary and benefits. This might seem obvious – and is even required by law in some areas – but you don’t want potential applicants to have to search through pages of bullet points to see how much they can get paid, what benefits they’ll receive, and how many hours they’re expected to work. Same goes for the location.  Make these details crystal clear.
  • Make it easy to know how to apply. As soon as a job opening is published on your website, assume it will be circulated beyond those with knowledge of your careers page or HR software. That’s why a job announcement must include what applicants are expected to submit (e.g. cover letter, 2-page resume, response to question prompts) and where they apply (e.g. email to the hiring manager, use of HR software).
  • Share with your network and mission-focused job boards. Tapping into the existing ecosystem of the sector is a great way to get your announcement in front of folks who are already predisposed to aligned work. Ask applicants where they heard about the position, which might give you new ideas on where to post and share. (And for prospective candidates, check out our blog post on making the most of job boards and networking).
  • Pick up the phone (yes, the phone!). In our experience, phone calls are an effective way to generate word-of-mouth marketing for your position.  As much as many of us prefer emailing and texting, a brief conversation can result in a referral from a trusted source, one of the best ways to identify quality candidates.
  • Consider social media audiences and make it easy to share there. If you have some extra communications support, consider including the following when you circulate your job announcement:
    • 240 characters (or less) position overview (suitable for any social site, including adding a link to apply)
    • Short or vanity URL for applications (helpful for sites like Instagram where post captions don’t accept links)
    • Engaging photo of your team in action (especially if your HR software doesn’t allow you to customize the SEO image for each listing)

For hiring managers and HR professionals, the start of a new year is the perfect time to shift your mindset from position description to job announcement.  We can’t guarantee that these tips will instantly cause your inbox to be brimming with applications, but we can say that – in our years of experience – taking these steps will improve how your organization and job opportunities are perceived and shared among relevant audiences.  

For job seekers, we hope these tips help improve your search process.  And, if you see something in a job announcement that piques your interest but might need clarification, consider contacting the hiring manager with a brief email. Sometimes a simple note to ask for clarification is the nudge hiring managers need to remember to add that information to a future announcement.