5 top tips to writing a better job posting — Learnt from lousy candidates

How many job applications have you deleted today? 10? 20?

When I was actively recruiting for other employers, I was deleting about 50 job applications per day. That’s about 1,000 of them over a month.

If you are constantly reposting a job listing due to irrelevant response, you might like to do some reflection before hitting the publish button again.

In fact we are shown how not to do it almost every single minute — from your job applicants.

1. Don’t be too generic

Do you bother reading the generic cover letter? Or are you the kind that gives nods of approval at every overused generic wording such as:

  • Outstanding
  • Effective
  • Strong
  • Exceptional
  • Good
  • Excellent
  • Driven
  • Motivated
  • Seasoned
  • Energetic

I guess not.

Likewise job candidates will be equally switched off with comparable wordings that recruiters tend to puff their job postings with.

If your job postings carry any of the below jargon, you may want to think about replacing them with more meaningful expressions, or just take them out altogether.

  • Hit the ground running
  • Visionary
  • Think outside the box
  • Innovate
  • Influencers
  • Pivot
  • Paradigm shift
  • Engagement
  • Value add
  • Game changer

2. Stay true to your brand

For the longest time, résumés always looked the same. You could randomly select 10 and place them beside each other and the chances are you will have a hard time telling them apart.

Do your job postings look like every other competing posting?

Even if there are restrictions placed upon us by the job portals, you can try to use different font sizes and/or font colours to make it a bit more appealing and different so you can capture the attention of the job seekers.

3. Use a human tone of voice

Most unappealing résumés tend to be written from a very neutral, third person perspective. For example, ‘Peter has more than 12 years of working experience in Accounting’.

Can you imagine Peter talking to you like that?

With the advent of personal branding, every one of us is our own brand ambassador and the key to that is to inject personality.

Similarly, organisations who are looking to hire, and potentially making their first impression to job seekers, have to do better in their elevator pitch.

Here is one that injected personality into the role and the company:


You may only have mere seconds to make this great first impression. Candidates skim dozens, if not hundreds, of job ads per day.

Stop sounding like a robot and start humanising your tone and words instead.

4. Be realistic with job requirements

Remember the candidate that wanted a 30% pay increment without any justification? Are you having the same unrealistic expectations on who you want to hire?

It is really easy to get carried away when you are trying your best to find the perfect fit for your client. Whilst it makes sense that you want to hire someone who ticks all the boxes, writing down the impossible laundry list of requirements is only going to turn your good candidates away.

And these candidates might actually be the superman you are looking for… but they may see themselves more of a Clark Kent.

You need to get them to connect before you can become their Professor X and discover what their super powers are.

5. Social media presence

It’s pretty normal for us recruiters to search social media to find out more about the job applicant we are interested in. And we usually go ‘meh’ if they don’t have an online presence to read up on.

Likewise candidates will want to know more about the hiring company or agency to learn more about what they do and how they do it.

Make sure your website and social media content are consistent and have a common message that you are trying to bring across to your audience — which are your job seekers.

What tips do you recommend for better job postings? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. 

Adrian Tan

Adrian Tan is CEO of The Resource Group, a boutique HR Consultancy that focuses on helping SMEs. Before this, he was the MD of RecruitPlus which he co-founded in 2004 and led to two HR Vendor of the Year award. He was named the HR Entrepreneur of the Year by SHRI in 2013. He blogs regularly on #Entrepreneurship and #HRTech on adriantan.com.sg.

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