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How to Optimize Job Postings for Candidate Search

With the launch of Google Cloud and Google for Jobs, job postings are appearing higher in indexed search engine results. What does this mean for you? Job posting optimization and SEO is critical in reaching the right talent and transparency is becoming the norm. Optimizing your job posts can elevate candidate quality and save your recruiting team time in screening out unqualified candidates, plus help your job postings get in front of the top candidates you want to reach. This can all be achieved on your career site as well as on the job posting itself.

How to Get Started with Writing Your Job Description

Starting with the job description that is attached to your job posting, there are several areas to focus on from requirements for the job to salary to your “must-have” qualifications. Before you get there, it’s important to evaluate what your hiring managers expect in a candidate versus the reality of the available talent pool in the current marketplace. In order to attract the candidates your hiring managers want, you must be able to improve candidate quality. This is where optimizing your job postings comes in.

Transparency is no longer optional. Google search (Google for Jobs) now reveals salary information — not necessarily how much a company is offering for a specific advertised position, but an estimated salary range based on job title, location, and employer. This data is garnered from sites like PayScale, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn whether you post salaries or not. If your company is hesitant to include salary details because you don’t want to weaken your negotiating position or be upfront about less-than-competitive pay, you might want to reconsider. Applicants who don’t see a salary range might not even bother applying for your position: A SMART Recruit Online study found that postings that included a salary range received 30 percent more clicks than those without one.

When an employer does list a specific salary, Google search will compare the figure to an estimated range, helping job hunters decide whether it’s worth applying for the role. You don’t have to partner with Google; any company that lists salary information, including specific figures and estimates, can tweak their web pages so that they’re included in job search results.

This means providing JobPosting structured data to have salary information displayed in search results. Structured data is code in a specific format, written in such a way that search engines understand it. Search engines read the code and use it to display search results in a specific and much richer way. You can easily put this piece of code on your website. Your website developers will need to follow two steps to get their listing to rank on the new Google jobs feature:

  1. Mark up your listings with Job Posting structured data
  2. Submit a sitemap (or RSS or Atom feed) with a <lastmod> date for each listing.

Google has published a guide to the process, and Google employee Mariya Moeva published the following FAQ to help developers better understand the process. See the full features and how Google’s Cloud Job Discovery works.

Accuracy in your posting. The best job postings accurately and specifically outline the qualifications and skills required. This is especially important in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) roles, where even small differences can keep you from reaching a qualified candidate base. Treat the job title as the “headline” of your post. Like an email subject line, it is the first piece of information your candidate will read. It should accurately represent the role, without the briefly popular cutesy “ninja,” “rockstar,” etc. nouns some companies used in job titles to represent a hipster-tech culture. The posting in brief should outline specific skill sets required and encourage the candidate to either explore your job or move along to another opportunity. An inaccurate job posting headline can keep you from reaching the best talent and painfully lengthen the duration of your hiring process.

Make it easy to apply. Your job post should have a single CTA (call to action): Apply Now. No tricks, no tactics, a simple CTA tells the candidate what they’re doing and where they will end up when they click that button. Once a candidate is on your career site, the steps to apply for the job posting they clicked on should be right there in front of them. The on-page user experience can include searching for other jobs within your company as a secondary option, but the primary focus should be the description for the post the candidate clicked on and what you expect from them now (as well as what they can expect from you).

Using a highly visible apply button at the top and bottom of your job posting will increase your likelihood to convert your candidate to applicant. If a candidate has to search or is confused about how to apply for your job, they’re going to move on. The user experience on your career site is paramount for candidate engagement. Walk through the steps for searching for and applying to jobs you’ve listed on your own page. Is anything unclear? Confusing? Think like a candidate. Do you know that your resume has been submitted? Is there a confirmation page or email that follows submission? These are two more opportunities not just to engage candidates, but to reassure them that their resume didn’t just get sucked into the black hole of the internet.

Leverage other media to help tell your job and company story. Video platform Ongig did a study on video job descriptions and found that video job ads get a 487% increase in engagement over text ads. Creating a simple video to accompany a job posting can amplify your engagement by nearly 500%. It’s relatable, it gives a job seeker a realistic snapshot of the company culture, and it ranks higher in search (as well as on social platforms).

Search engines look for more than compelling text. They value pages with visual elements. Your careers page should include photos and video. The multimedia on your job listing page helps you give a clear picture of your company and boosts your metadata (the language that search engines use to read websites). Adding valuable metadata to your web pages shows search engines that you’re focused on creating a thorough resource for job seekers. Speaking of search…

Don’t ignore SEO (search engine optimization). This applies to your post and to your job description landing page. Include keywords like job title, city, state, and other common terms. Search engines scan your content for commonly searched job keywords and phrases, like titles and responsibilities. The more people who click on your content while searching specific job description keywords, the more likely your content will get boosted to the top of future searches (in general, more clicks mean higher page authority in search). Your postings should be original to your site and not a copy paste from another company or site, otherwise search engines view it as duplicate content and potentially de-index the page.

Recruiting Marketing Is the New Standard in Recruiting Strategy

Think of your job posting as a marketing and product landing page with the ultimate goal of sale and conversion — the conversion being the moment your target candidate applies for the job.

In order to attract and retain quality employees, you first have to get your job posting in front of them. Without optimization, your strategy is reduced to “spray and pray,” and you lose the benefit of having data on which to base decisions to test and scale your job posts.