FingersDo you know if your job descriptions are optimized? Are they designed to maximize readability and (qualified) candidate engagement?

Job advertisements are usually a bit of a gamble, aren’t they? Usually, you write a job description, add all the required sections, spruce it up with some lively language, and then hope for the best. Now, however, we have insight into designing more effective job descriptions, thanks to research conducted by TheLadders.

Quite interestingly, the study found that there is a general overestimation of how long job seekers spend reviewing advertisements. TheLadders found that 44 percent of job seekers thought they were spending 1-5 minutes deciding whether or not an ad was a fit, and 19 percent thought they took 5-10 minutes. In reality, job seekers probably spend much less time considering ads: TheLadders found that job applicants spent just 49 seconds deciding whether or not to apply for a job. When job advertisements used a more optimized format designed by TheLadders, job seekers spent more time on the ads, though still not much: 76.7 seconds in all.

The point is that candidates need only a minute to decide if your job is right for them, regardless of the format of your advertisement. So: how can you optimize your job description so that candidates get all the information they need to make their “fit/not a fit” decisions, allowing you to attract qualified candidates?

To start, you need to keep your ads short, or at least make sure that the pertinent information is included within the first 250 words or so. According to the study from TheLadders, job seekers tend focus on the top of job ads, which means that you need to include all the critical fit information in the first paragraph, ideally.

TheLadders also found that job seekers focus more on the left side of the job description. This suggests that you should use big, bold section headings that allow candidates to more easily navigate the job description.

TheLadders also found that job seekers tend to overlook details in the bottom two-thirds of the page. Job seekers tend to skim this area, which makes one question the value of detailed duty lists on external job ads.

As you might imagine, job seekers focus most heavily on job titles and job summary text right at the top of the page. You need to focus on providing a catchy, accurate job title and and a brief, but informative, 4-5 line job summary to hook qualified candidates.

Of course, there is more than one way to produce job advertisements. I’d love to hear about the techniques and approaches that you use to increase the responses to your advertisements!

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