What motivates you to make a change? Typically you are running from something bad, or running toward something good. In today’s healthy job market, candidates don’t generally have a lot to run from. So how can you convince them to respond to your message, and consider your offer? The message you sell to a candidate has to get noticed, and the only way to get noticed is by selling the job.

One of the most critical elements of employer messages to candidates is the job description. Recruiters usually send some idea of the potential job to candidates – but is that description something worth running to? Here are tips to help you source candidates and sell the job.

Don’t Just Post the Job Description, Highlight the Day-to-Day

Job descriptions are generally written with compliance or contract requirements in mind – not candidates. They’re designed to set out minimum expectations and lay the groundwork for who might be qualified. They certainly generally don’t help you attract quality candidates. Make sure your job descriptions extend beyond just a general listing of qualifications. One way to think of it is giving a candidate an idea of what the day-to-day work of the job will entail.

“In the main body it’s ideal to provide a true glimpse of the anticipated work day, with clear concise requirements listed and used to qualify candidates,” said Maria Whitney, senior recruiter at Smartronix. “Our goal isn’t to disqualify, but to qualify the ideal fit.”

To attract mission-minded candidates, it’s also useful to think of a job description in terms of outcomes, not just duties.

“Sometimes, I put in the expectations or outcomes I want to see in the role – this is mainly for higher level positions,” said Jan Johnston Osburn, vice president of strategy and execution at Lewis Price. “For example, ‘Organic growth of 15% within 12 months.’ For higher level roles, I try to be specific as to what we would define in terms of success.  That’s a great starting point for interview discussions. You can discuss what you expect and talk about how they’ve performed in similar roles in the past.”

Be Up Front with the Good and the Bad

What if you’re not sure the candidate will care for the job at all – or the location? The worst thing you can do is try to bury information you think is unenticing. The best thing you can do is take the time to craft a message that upsells every part of the job – even the aspects you may think are the worst.

Buchanan and Edwards recently needed to hire 50 people with Top Secret security clearances to work in high-demand positions from systems engineering to information assurance. The catch? The work location was in Pocatello, Idaho. That meant enticing the majority of candidates to relocate to a brand new state – and way of life – in order to accept the position.

Rather than hiding that fact, Buchanan and Edwards created a targeted email campaign that enticed candidates with both the mission and location of the position.

The next time you have a job with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, try leading with that element, rather than burying it.


Rethink Your Job Titles

Your job description and how you sell the position are incredibly important. But they won’t be considered if the job title you promote isn’t right.

“I think that many candidates simply look at the title and apply,” said Osburn. “It’s still very common to receive loads of resumes of candidates who very clearly do not meet what you are looking for in the role.”

If you know candidates are applying, or choosing to reply to your positions based on the job title alone, that means they are incredibly important. And that also means if you’re not attracting the right kind of candidate, you may not have the right job title.

“After a round of interviews, we rank the candidates and notate what was the best skill set within the group and what is missing in our ideal candidate,” said Whitney. “From there we use that data to update our job’s preferred skills and possibly change aspects to draw in that targeted candidate. This might include adjusting a title from Junior Architect to Senior Engineer, or adjusting the certifications from IAM level III to IAT level III. Small changes can draw in different audiences.”

That last piece of advice may be the critical element for employers struggling to attract the right candidate. The issue may not be the way you’re reaching out, but it may be your job descriptions, job titles, or failure to finesse the strengths of the job itself. It seems easy to change the message method, but the issue could be the message itself. Change the content, and you just might find your candidate.

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Lindy Kyzer is the editor of ClearanceJobs.com. She loves the NISPPAC, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email lindy.kyzer@clearancejobs.com. Interested in writing for ClearanceJobs.com? Learn more here.