So many postings, so few great applicants. And so we blame it on the applicants who don’t read the specs or are desperate or whatever.

But it couldn’t be the job posting… except, that all too often, it is.

Sure, job posting is so easy when your system automatically can take the position description and post it all over the web. And even if you don’t do that, often you do copy out large parts of the description. After all, that way all the requirements are in the posting. All the duties are listed. So much better than in the old days when you paid for a job ad by the word – and had to be pretty inventive to succeed. Besides, job seekers are using keywords to search so surely you want every possible word.

But, does your ad capture the attention of the top quality candidates you seek?
Do you even think of it as an ad, a marketing piece for your organization? Or is it just another boring posting attracting adequate to poor candidates?

While you may not be selling Beemers or Bud, you do want to attract those people who are going to add value to your organization. You want those who are active and interested in their field and have the right attributes to succeed in your organization.

Want great applicants to choose among?
You do this with job postings that paint a picture which entices the right sort of applicants and employee referrals.

  • Talk up your culture to find those who will thrive in it.
  • Create high expectations for the work demands by talking about the challenges the person will face immediately and near-term. This helps attract high-achievers while scaring off those less inclined to work hard.

Give some specifications and work outlines certainly – inquiring minds want to know. But don’t let those be the main focus, most are barely relevant, even if you did do a full job description review before posting the job. And I bet you didn’t, who has the time – not you, not the hiring manager. As if you do have the time to deal with all the wrong candidates and to waste on interviews, which you will.

Here are two positive examples to give you ideas, each excerpts from recent job postings that were effective. Neither is perfect but each offers ideas for you.

Example A

The right candidate will be…

…an architect – you want to build a new function within a department and are excited about the opportunity that presents. You are prepared for the growing pains that will come with the creation of a new position and you have the experience to overcome them!

…of two minds – You think like a head hunter from a staffing agency and can creatively source candidates, but can also sell a company and your relationship to it, all the while building long term relationships with the hiring managers you serve

…able to write – job descriptions, eye catching ads, clear emails, and offer letters

…web 2.0 savvy – Can you give me examples of using social media in recruiting? I’ll be asking for them!

…affordable – The pay range for this position is in the

What is so good about this?
It talks about the fact that this is a new function, which will attract folks who are interested in building success. It gives considerable info on the specs within the context of the challenges and opportunities, not a cliched list. It makes clear the pay range which, research shows, gathers better applicants.

Example B

Are you seeking to bring your individual or major donor fundraising experience to a growing foundation, which welcomes new ideas and needs a strong liaison to their development committee? Your professional and sophisticated approach will serve you well in this is a newly created position that offers the opportunity to put together structures and events to benefit this cutting edge growing non-profit!

This position really has it all from creating specific fundraising events and new donor initiatives to potential grant writing opportunities. Your follow-up, strong interpersonal relationships and attention to detail will allow you to succeed and your creative approach will be noticed by the entire team. You will have the opportunity to bring the fundraising function in-house and place new systems from the ground up.


  • Attend events, dinners and networking events to engage, build relationships and drive contributions from members, corporations and other entities.
  • Work with the development committee to brainstorm new and creative fundraising ideas and events in order to bring attention to the foundation’s mission.
  • Take these ideas from planning to follow-up to ensure that fundraising goals and objectives are met.
  • Assist the Executive Director with grant identification and writing in order to obtain additional funds for the foundation.


This one creates a sense of what the foundation seeks and how both creativity and detailed follow-through are needed. It shows a willingness to provide training and development opportunities. And since their benefits are excellent, it showcased them.

The right job posting for your organization is one which really attracts the type of candidates who can succeed there. And which discourages those who are not a good match. So if yours is a fairly static or bureaucratic operation, then perhaps just posting a variant on the job description is fine. But if you face challenges in technology or competition or are trying to build a high-performance team, then you need to make clear your opportunities and your expectations in each posting.

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