How To Write A Job Post In 2020

By Mareike Voget

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January is a boon time for recruiters. Following the winter holiday season, many employees embrace the new year to change jobs and embark on a fresh challenge.

Amidst the 2020 competition for talent, organisations will be striving to be front of mind for potential applicants, as everybody wants to hire the best. However, attracting potential employees is easier said than done – in today’s omnichannel world, employers can’t just post a job and hope. In addition to job listings, they need to cultivate an employer brand and use digital sourcing tools to successfully recruit.

While a job ad is only part of the picture, you can certainly improve the performance of your job ads, so that they feel like less of a gamble. How? We’ve got you covered. We analysed two years’ worth of job ads listed on our platform, utilized by over 16 million research professionals, to find out what does (and doesn’t) work, in order to help organizations like yours entice great candidates in 2020.

Stick to short, informative job titles

Online job titles over the past 10-15 years have become more creative: Digital Overlord, Wizard of Lightbulb Moments. These are just some of the more obscure job titles online today. However, despite the creativity, prospective job applicants can find these hard to grasp. 

We’ve learned that enticing job hunters to click on an ad requires titles that are short and sweet. Clear and concise job titles help candidates understand immediately what the role is and whether they are interested enough to find out more. Aim for no more than 71 characters — ads with job titles within this length enjoy an above-average click-through rate, while those with longer job titles have nearly 10% fewer clicks than average.

Focus on vital information

Trying to sell an idea is sometimes easier than reality, and employers are occasionally guilty of painting a picture of what could-be, rather than what will-be. To avoid disappointment on both sides, be brief and specific. We’ve found that job listings between 1001-1500 characters receive almost 15% more applications. The best way to achieve this is knowing what potential applicants actually want to know, and positioning this prominently so prospective applicants don’t lose interest.

Talk about what they’ll be doing day to day, rather than wasting characters on your organisation’s prestige. Focusing on what the role actually entails will give candidates a better feel for the job. Our recent research of 10,000 scientists found that for these job seekers, the most important “on-the-job factor” when deciding whether to apply for a position is the chance to carry out work within their area of expertise. Keeping employees interested and challenged is one of the key elements in engaging and retaining staff. Probation periods are of course there for a reason, but it’s a costly exercise when new employees decide that, actually, the role isn’t for them after just a few weeks, so try to avoid crossed wires by providing insight from the outset.

Be transparent about pay and benefits

Salary is often one of the last hurdles discussed in the recruitment process. However, while it is of course a key factor in deciding to apply for a new role, it isn’t the only one. Work-life balance and location both rank highly among job seekers. Spell out these factors when listing a job – discuss salary brackets, paid holidays and working hours. While some sectors, such as academia or the public sector, are confined to strict pay limits, people still need to know what they’re buying into. It saves time on both sides if those who aren’t convinced fall out of the race early.

Know how to target your specific audience

Yes, posting job ads online tends to be the go-to hiring solution for the majority of industries. Yet, this method doesn’t resonate equally with professionals across all sectors. For example, we’ve learned that researchers in political science, agricultural science, and architecture apply for roles quickly after viewing a job ad. However, that can’t be said for scientists in every field. In fact, those specialised in geography, neuroscience, and space sciences show the opposite behaviour with below-average conversion rates. As a result, you might need to utilize more advanced, active recruitment solutions when targeting such employees.

Searching for new employees takes time, commitment and perseverance. However, there are ways in which businesses in all sectors can help themselves by examining their current status quo, and learning from it. Just because it worked once it doesn’t mean it will work again in 12 months. Learn, test, alter and progress — in 2020 and beyond!


About the author: 

Mareike Voget leads the product team for ResearchGate Scientific Recruitment Solutions. With 15 million-plus researchers and 120 million scientific publications, ResearchGate is the world's leading professional network for scientists. Scientists use the platform to accelerate their research work, while research institutions and corporate R&D rely on the platform to attract, recruit and hire scientific talent.


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