Differentiating with Enhanced Job Postings

Post by
Phil Strazzulla
September 12, 2017

Standing Out

With so many job posts in the interwebs out there, how do you stand out among the crowd for the right job seekers? In experiencing a lack of quality candidates, you may resort to settling for the closest possible candidate you can find. However, Cassandra Allen of Fehr & Peers has experienced success with her process of enhanced job posts and shared with us some of her knowledge. Read on to learn about how a truly differentiated job posting will allow your company to stand out from the crowd and attract the best candidates.

What is your background and current role?

While my background is in Recruiting and Human Resources, I’ve always had passion for marketing and creative communications. As the Talent Acquisition Specialist for an organization that values each office’s local autonomy, creating firm-wide change takes partnership, collaboration, and influence backed by data. The relationship fostered between our HR and Communications teams has helped create opportunities to advance our employer brand, which led us to enhance our job descriptions in a uniquely personal way.

Why did you decide to update your job descriptions?

In the spirit of attracting “right-fit” candidates to Fehr & Peers through compelling job postings, we took a critical look at the way we were crafting our job descriptions. It was clear our existing, text-heavy job descriptions were, at best, no different than an average formulaic and impersonal posting, and at worst, too lengthy and un-engaging for candidates. Either way, we knew it was time for a change. To depart from the norm, we set out to dispel myths or stereotypes of similar positions elsewhere while providing a realistic glimpse into the firm’s culture and team or group dynamics to help candidates make an informed decision before applying.

How did you update them? What was the before and after?

we're hiring

To differentiate each role, we used our job descriptions to dispel the myths or stereotypes of similar positions elsewhere, calling out those myths directly and addressing them head on. For example, on an IT posting we boldly stated, “We resist the urge to lock everything down,” and followed up with our philosophy of trusting our staff. We incorporated elements of the intangibles through a personal and approachable (not “corporate”) tone, and used actual staff photos to show candidates who they’d be working with.Next, we added quotes from the team, the manager, and relevant staff to demonstrate the importance of this role that the people the selected candidate would interface with most frequently. We also included our job description text, but it was no longer the focal point of the posting. It’s as if we were saying, “check out our team and what it’s like to work with us, here’s what we think of the role and who we hope will join us. Still want to know more? Ok - if you insist - here’s the full description.”

Have you heard any feedback from job seekers after updating your job descriptions?

The feedback we received from job seekers after our first updated posting was even better than we’d hoped. One candidate said, “I am so inspired by your website and job application process; it impressed me so much that I thought I would apply regardless of prospective outcome. You guys rock!” We even heard from our staffing firm partner that our posting was the best they’d seen in years.

Enhanced Job Testing Success

Getting a re-vamp wasn't all ready-set-go. It took a great deal of collaboration for Cassandra to get things up and running as well as some specific testing of these enhanced job descriptions.

Do you have any data around the difference in conversion rate on your new job descriptions vs the old?

Following our early use of this strategy, we noticed a better caliber of candidates applying to our openings. We initially tested this approach with some of our unique, infrequent openings, which meant we didn’t have baseline metrics to use for comparison. However, the positive reviews we received from candidates, clients, and managers encouraged us to continue. With our formula dialed in for creating relatable job postings, we were able to apply this unique strategy to our common and evergreen (always-open) postings. We continue to monitor our selection funnel for indications of success such as fewer applications, yet a higher percentage of candidates ultimately selected.

What resources did you need to pull off this project?

  • Relatable photos (ideally of the team) helped candidates picture themselves at Fehr & Peers.
  • Our communications specialists partnered with us to create an engaging page design cohesive with our overall web presence.
  • Input from the selected candidate’s future teammates provided insights needed to generate content.
  • Quotes from the team were used to demonstrate the significance of the role in a genuine way.
  • Having the hiring manager’s support and, more importantly, their insight was instrumental in this effort.

The time spent up front to gather input on all needs, not just skills and requirements, paid dividends. In addition to technical skills needed, we focused on soft skills, unique things about the office/team, near-term opportunities for this role, who they’d be working most closely with, etc. to ensure we highlighted elements that were both compelling and realistic.

What's next for your employer branding efforts?

We continue to evolve our approach with the goal of helping candidates determine if their “why” aligns with Fehr & Peers’ “why”. We’ve made big strides through the evolution of our job descriptions, but there is still a great deal of opportunity to strengthen our employer brand. Beyond real staff photos and text quotes, we see value in using authentic video incorporated into our careers site/postings. We’re also considering interactive ways for job seekers to explore our offices virtually. The more effective we are at giving candidates a “peek inside our window” the closer we’ll be to achieving our goal.

Creating Teams That Thrive

Ultimately, the processes you adapt in hiring will affect the company's overall production and growth, especially with the right (or wrong) type of person for your goals. Even if you're not marketing savvy, working with those who are will help you display the company's culture and candidate fit in the best way with these types of enhanced job postings. If you'd like to learn more about a good job description, check out our quiz and see if you pass!

Interviewee Bio

Cassandra Allen

Cassandra Allen is a Talent Acquisition Leader with more than 10 years of demonstrated success in recruitment marketing, employer branding, and human resources. Her innovative, forward-thinking, and adaptable approach, has earned Cassandra a recruiting thought leader role at Fehr & Peers. She has successfully transformed the firm’s employer brand and hiring practices to reflect the firm’s unique culture. Cassandra maintains a keen focus on attracting industry-leading talent through authentic candidate experiences.