Five Ways To Reimagine Online Job Posts And Widen Your Talent Pool


This article was authored by Robert Hosking, Senior Vice President, Managing Director – Search Practices, and first appeared in LHH.

Talk about your tough audiences.

In a recent conversation with one of our client organizations, I learned they had recently posted for an urgently needed VP-level job. It’s a good job at a good company, with good salary and benefits.

And they didn’t get a single response. Not even one.

We helped check the post to see if there was something wrong with it. Perhaps it was using the wrong language or somehow sent the wrong message. The post checked out. The problem here had less to do with the post, per se, and more to do with one of the most dynamic and volatile talent markets we’ve ever seen.

By now, most organizations looking for talent know that it’s a seller’s market. Top talent has never been more in demand, and more willing to change jobs. Salaries are skyrocketing as organizations compete for skilled workers, many of whom are receiving multiple job offers. Right now, it’s not uncommon for someone to accept a job and then pull out right before their start date when a better offer comes along.

Can job postings help acquire top talent?

In the midst of all this hiring chaos, you may be wondering if job postings have a role in acquiring top talent?

Run-of-the-mill postings may help you with entry or even mid-level jobs but increasingly we’re seeing high level and executive jobs filled through the hidden job market—those not advertised or posted online, including passive job seekers who are pried from their current positions by executive search firms; word-of-mouth references; and candidates generated through the personal networks of existing employees.

Still, there remains an important role for job postings. But only if you do it in the right way. With so many online job postings available, here are five tactics to help you widen your talent pool:


Remember that a job post is a signal to the talent market.

Sometimes, a post if not only about drawing candidates. It’s about projecting an image of your organization as future-focused and primed for growth. You may have an opening because you lost a key member of your executive team. Your job post should convey a positive and progressive sentiment. We need new people to help us pursue a bright future.

In this market, you have to sell your organization.

There certainly have been times when job candidates had to make the effort to sell themselves to employers. And while there will always be some emphasis on that, in this market it’s incumbent on employers to sell themselves to prospective candidates who, as I’ve noted above, are likely to see multiple job offers once it becomes known they are available on the open market. Selling yourself to talent is not just about job titles and salary. Top talent looking at job postings want to get a sense of your organization’s culture, values and commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Don’t box yourself in on requirements.

Some job postings are so rigid in terms of requirements that they simply scare people off. Prior experience has been a staple of hiring and recruitment for many decades now. But as organizations struggle to find top talent, or experience a high number of bad hires, many have begun to re-think prior experience as a primary determining factor in making a job offer. Do you need to require someone to have experience with a specific software program when it only takes a few weeks to learn? Do you really need five years’ experience in an identical executive position at another firm when soft skills like empathy, ability to lead remote teams and self-awareness are the standards now for good leaders? It’s time to re-imagine the whole area of qualifications.

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Stress-test the language in your job post.

By now it’s well established that certain words, when built into job posts, act as subtle signals that can inadvertently deter under-represented groups from applying and unwittingly narrow the talent pool. There are software programs now that can screen job posts to help eliminate or reduce bias by identifying language that might be considered discriminatory. To write a more inclusive, unbiased job description ensure you remove gender-coded words, avoid “cultural fit” which can be misinterpreted and emphasize “value alignment,” and include phrases that show you welcome a wide range of ages.

Realize that ‘flexibility’ is the now key buzz word for top talent.

As we continue to battle a global pandemic, top talent will need certain assurances about flexible working conditions. If opinion surveys are accurate, most people want to work both at home and in an office setting. They also want the power to determine which days they are at home and which days they are at the office. Employers who feel they cannot offer those terms will find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to competing for top talent.

In the current talent market, money is doing a lot of talking. Top talent who are willing to change jobs may very well see their salaries double. That’s certainly enticing a lot of good people to make the jump.

However, in our experience, top candidates are not just concerned about the money. If they’re going to move, they need some sort of assurance about the culture and values of the organization they are moving to. They need to know they will be doing meaningful work and that they’ll have measure of control over their schedules. All of these things can be communicated in a well-structured job posting.

All it takes is attention to the details.

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