Top 10 Do's and Dont's of Job Postings
by Sharon Tappouni, RN
Operations Director, MedCAREERS Network
With millions of jobs posted on the Internet, the quality of your posting, and details you include (or don't include) will make the difference between filling a critical vacancy in a shortage profession - or not. Internet job postings are an increasingly important tool for healthcare recruiters. Compared to traditional ads in newspapers and trade journals, online job postings are cheaper, more detailed, available 24 hours a day, and have a national (and international) reach. The Internet allows you to post of vacancies immediately and get virtually instant responses – no waiting for the Sunday classifieds or June issue before your job can be seen.

With this in mind, there are several important things to do when taking your recruitment campaign to the ‘Net.

The Do’s
1. DO check out the website as a job seeker. Before you post your jobs (or even consider using a website), go there and pretend you are the person you’re trying to hire. Is the site appealing and easy to use? If not, this might not be the best place to be. Look at the site features and the postings themselves. This will give you valuable insight on how to do your own postings. How do job seekers find jobs? If you understand how the seeker will be looking for postings and how the information is displayed, you can design your posting to be easily found and nicely displayed.

2. DO check out what your competition is doing. Your postings will be displayed to job seekers in a list with similar postings. Take a look at these competing postings – how are they worded? What categories are they under? Are they offering bonuses or other goodies? What kind of titles are they using? Keep this information in mind as you construct your job posting.

3. DO learn about the features, functions and services provided by the job posting website you’re using. Most job posters do not take advantage of services and tools provided with their job posting package. Commonly missed are matching services (matching your posting to the existing candidate database), email notification systems (sends you an email when job seekers register with qualifications matching your criteria) and access to the candidate/resume database. Most sites have information about these services on the pages themselves; some include it in welcome emails or have it under help or hint links. If you can’t find it, call and ask. Quality sites are happy to help – it’s in their best interest to make your experience successful.

4. DO create a specific and interesting job title. The job title is typically the first (and in many cases the only) part of your posting job seekers see when they start their search. After entering their search criteria, job seekers are presented with a summary list of the jobs meeting those criteria. This summary most often contains the company name, job title and job location and may include other information like job date, salary and job type.

The job title is critical in differentiating your posting from the dozens or hundreds displayed in that same list. Titles such as “Staff Nurse” and “Registered Nurse” are overused and won’t differentiate the posting. Minimally you should add some detail such as “RN – Adult ICU” or “LPN – Intermediate Care”. More specific yet might be “RN for 10 bed Neuro-Trauma ICU” or “Experienced Charge Nurse for Level III Trauma Center.” Titles that are more daring like “Seeking Super Nurse” or “Open-Heart Surgery RN – Put the “style” back in your Lifestyle!” tend to get even more views.

5. DO correctly categorize your posting. Most sites have categories such as profession, specialty, job type (full-time, part-time) and location that are used for searching. One common mistake by job posters is not placing their posting in the most correct category. Review all selections available before selecting one to be sure you are using the most correct category. Also, be sure to use all available categories. If the site has a field for qualifications, be sure to place your qualifications in that area rather than including them with the description area. The job seekers using the site are used to looking for information in a specific location and they may miss it or by pass it if they don’t see it there.

6. DO provide salary information. The most common complaint from job seekers is that employers don’t include salary information in their job postings. Face it, we all work for money and most job changes are made in order to earn more money. Postings including salary information see more traffic. Be sure to include other compensation information like bonuses, shift differential, weekend differential, etc. If you don’t want to quote a specific range consider included a phrase like “ based on shift you can earn up to $35.00 an hour”

7. DO include keywords in your posting. Most sites allow job seekers to search jobs for specific (key) words within a posting. Keyword searches look for exact matches. Thus when a job seeker searches for Registered Nurse it will find all postings including the words “registered nurse” but will not find postings with RN or R.N.. You can choose to include keywords in your text as part of the description: “…seeking registered nurses. If you are an RN with your BSN…” or you can include a keyword section at the bottom of the posting: “Keywords: RN, R.N., Registered Nurse, BSN, B.S.N., ….” Keyword searches are not case sensitive so job seekers searching on “rn” would find postings including “RN”.

8. DO update your postings frequently. Job seekers visit their favorite job boards regularly from monthly to daily. Once they have read your posting once or twice they likely will never look at it again. Updating your postings with a new job title, a different description or placing it in a different category may appeal to someone who was not attracted by your original wording. Additionally, updating your posting gives it a more current date which is very important – most sites display the most recent jobs first and allow job seekers to search postings based on their age. Once your posting has been up 2-3 weeks it’s considered old or likely to be filled. Updated jobs with today’s date go back to the top of the list and get more traffic. By making changes and seeing which postings garner the most applicants you will hit on a formula that works for your market, region and facility.

9. DO go online and check out your posting from the job seeker’s perspective. Once you have entered your posting online, go find it. Log out from you job poster account and approach the site as a job seeker. Search for your posting using the categories you think a seeker might use to find it. Also try using a key word search. If you can’t find it, neither will candidates – go make changes. Also, check out how it is displayed. Is everything spelled correctly? Does it look nice on the page? Are the information and links available for the candidate to contact you?

10. DO respond immediately to all inquiries. Now that the Internet is speeding the posting of jobs and applicants are coming in immediately, the process is falling down at the human element of follow up. Someone who has taken the time to apply online to a posting is about the hottest lead you can get. Don’t lose it. Reply immediately. A phone call is best since you can enter into an immediate dialogue to qualify the applicant and schedule the next step. If you don’t have time to call, send an immediate email reply to the candidate letting them know you’ve received their information and when/how you’ll be following up. If you have large numbers of applicants, work with your email application or IT department to set up an automated reply acknowledging you’ve received their information. If the specific position they’ve applied for is filled, don’t ignore the inquiry. Send some type of reply. Let them know about other positions that are available or when a similar position may be available in the future.

The Dont’s
If you have been online, you’ve likely noticed a number of really poor job postings. Many of these Don’ts are common practices online that will doom your postings to limited traffic and poor responses.

1. DON’T copy a print ad and use it online. Print ads do not translate well to the Internet. Advertisements for newspapers and trade journals are priced by line/space and are expensive. Consequently, information is limited and a lot of information is condensed into the minimum space. Your recent newspaper ad seeking RNs in 12 specialties for 3 locations with 6 shift options will get little attention on a site where job postings are categorized by specialties or locations. Online job postings generally don’t have space limitations and in many cases sort postings by profession, specialty, location and more. This print ad would ideally be translated into 12 or more postings targeting the specialties and locations. Each posting could be expanded to describe the unit and shift options, benefits etc. for better exposure and appeal to the candidate.

2. DON’T be too wordy. In order to manage the huge quantities of information presented to them online, Internet users have become experts in scanning. Your main message and pitch should be relatively complete in the first 5 lines. If you have a number of things to say, summarize in the first 5 lines and go into detail in later sections. Use headings and bullets to organize larger postings and lists of information for easy scanning. But don’t be so brief that you fail to tell the job seeker exactly how you’d like them to take the next step. Include your preferred method of response, such as: “Please apply online through this website or fax your resume to the number below.”

3. DON’T copy a job description from your HR manual and use it as your job posting. You’re busy, you want to get something online right now and this seems like a good idea – it’s not. While your internal job descriptions are meaningful to current employees for evaluation purposes they are not a good read to someone seeking employment.

4. DON’T USE ALL UPPER CASE. ONLINE WRITING IN ALL UPPER CASE IS AKIN TO YELLING AT SOMEONE – AND IT IS DIFFICULT TO READ. Feel free to use to capital letters sparingly to EMPHASIZE an occasional word or phrase.

5. don’t use all lower case in your posting either. using correct case is like using correct grammar – people will judge you by it. all lower case is more difficult to read and makes your company (or at least your posting) look too lazy to use the shift key. Use Title Case For Titles. Use sentence case for sentences.

6. DON’T have long paragraphs in your posting. Keep your paragraphs short – no more than 4-6 sentence or 6-8 lines. Long paragraphs are hard to read in general (check your newspaper layout) and even harder online. Different sites have different technologies for inserting paragraphs – some will use the formatting from your word processor, others use simple programming (HTML) tags for formatting. The customer support department of your job posting site can help you with this.

7. DON’T post jobs ‘blind’ unless it is absolutely necessary. Blind postings are ones where the position is described but any specific information about the employer is not included. Search firms for high-level executive searches commonly use this approach. The response rate to blind ad is terrible. Candidates will bypass blind posting for one that displays company information. Blind ads give the impression you have something to hide.

8. DON’T fail to include benefits. Hospital employers with great full time benefits are competing head to head with traveling nurse companies and temporary staffing agencies that boast very high salaries. Also, you’re competing with clinics and offices with 9-5 work schedules. Many sites have a company information section that is linked to the posting. This is the best place to describe (and sell) your company and describe its best benefits. Be sure to summarize hard benefits like great pay, paid time off, day shift no weekends, 401k, etc. as well as soft benefits like easy parking, flexible scheduling, tracel opportunities, guaranteed full time hours, work environment, etc. that differentiate you from the competition.

9. DON’T forget your spelling, grammar and punctuation. Your job posting is a formal presentation of your company just like your marketing and recruitment literature. (How many times did you re-read, edit, correct and review your recruitment literature before sending it to the printer?) Author your postings in a word processing application and get them right. Use spell check (many web forms do not have this feature), edit carefully for typos, and have someone else take a final look. Then copy it into the job posting fields of the website.

10. DON’T assume the posting will do all the work. Nurses, pharmacists and other shortage professionals are so in demand and so heavily advertised to they have become callused. In the hospital setting this is also complicated by professionals who are working so hard they don’t have the time or energy to mount a serious job search even though they are ready for a change. Job postings work for those who are actively looking, but they will not ferret out the large percentage of “inert” job seekers. Plan to use the candidate matching and resume searching features of your job posting websites. The job posters reporting the most success combine job postings with aggressive use of candidate databases.

Using the Internet will allow you to expand your recruitment campaign and keep up with your competition. The quality of your job postings and the information they contain is critical to getting the best response and the best candidates. Don’t hesitate to contact your job posting site to discuss how to use their site for maximum results and for assistance in constructing your job postings.

Sharon Tappouni, RN was a hospital based nurse recruiter for 5 years and is currently is the Director of Operations for the MedCAREERS Network. MedCAREERS.com is the anchor site for the network which hosts healthcare and career sites including GovMedCAREERS.com and MedFuture.com as well as powering the career/job centers within several other healthcare sites including NursingCenter.com. You can email Sharon at stappouni@medcareers.com.
© 2003 Sharon B Tappouni (Reprints with permission)


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