How Not to Advertise a Position

Author: Pete Weddle


Recently, we put on our job seeker hat and visited one of the more popular recruitment sites on the Web. Acting as an employment candidate, we searched the site's job database to see what kind of opportunities it had available. The site's search engine was easy to use and was accompanied by clear directions that were written in English, not techno-babble. Basically, all we had to do was identify the search criteria or key words that were important to us and then designate an industry, desired location and salary objective.

We entered the term "Manager" in the key word area and selected the Telecommunications industry, a engine brought back 26 pages of information, listing 648 jobs, each one described by its title, location, employer, salary and date posted.

And that's the rub. There was virtually no descriptive information among the job titles to help us (or any job seeker) determine which positions were most interesting or appropriate.

Among the first 15 positions listed from our search, there were 2 Product Managers, 2 Area Managers, 3 Account Managers, 3 Marketing Managers and 4 Sales Managers. Although the employers and locations varied, the job titles had obviously been drawn from internal position descriptions or print ad copy. They were standard institutional names, offering no context or sizzle that would help to differentiate any one of the opportunities. As a result, all of the positions looked alike, leaving us with but one option when trying to determine which job to open and read: we flipped a coin. 

Such is the nature of on-line recruitment advertising. Unlike with print ads, where you can quickly scan the text beneath the title to see what an opening is all about, the search engine in most on-line job databases forces job seekers to select jobs based on their titles. And while a rose by any other name may still be a rose, a job title in a list of 647 other titles needs some color and fragrance to help it stand out. Indeed, creating an original, entertaining, enticing title for each of your job postings is a key factor in maximizing your return on investment in on-line advertising.

What sets a title apart? First, remember that these titles are not going to determine a position's size or level of accountability. They will not appear on an organization chart or be used to assign salary levels. Instead, their purpose is to sell your opportunity to prospective candidates. Second, these titles are not simply the electronic rendition of something developed for a print ad. They are not immediately followed by nor do they lead seamlessly into a text description of a job. Rather, they act as one-line billboards that must quickly capture the interest or pique the curiosity of readers as they scan through a (sometimes very long) list of similar position openings. In short, good titles tempt talent. Here are some tips that will make your titles more tempting:

  • If your organization has a special or unique culture, describe it in your title. For example, "Sales Manager, fast growing, entrepreneurial company."
  • If your location is a key factor in attracting new employees, include it in your title. For example, "Marketing Manager, great company, great fishing in Idaho."
  • If your opening offers an attractive financial benefit, say so in the title. For example, "Sales Manager, $50K+ bonus opportunity."
  • If your organization is a leader in its field, highlight its reputation in the title. For example, "Product Manager, #1 telecommunications company in the Midwest."
  • Or, if the job, itself, involves extraordinary responsibility or challenge, capture that aspect in its title. For example, "Account Manager, start-up sales team for exciting medical product."

So, what's in a title for an on-line job posting? Everything. It's the element that transforms your job into a job seeker's brass ring.