Educator and former Yale University President Kingman Brewster Jr. once said, “Incomprehensible jargon is the hallmark of a profession.”
Regardless of the profession in which you recruit and source, you often find yourself floating in a swirling drain full of job descriptions that only people in that industry can comprehend. Unfortunately, young adults or other potential candidates changing careers may not have the terminology handbook in their possession and may not understand those pithy expressions that define one’s place in that world.
This is why SEO is more than science – it’s an art. And it matters when writing job titles and job descriptions. Here are eight effortless steps to consider for your own works of searchable art:
- Remember your candidate. We have a client that operates water parks. And while sourcing for a “lifeguard” made complete sense, Indeed’s top search term on sponsored jobs was “Pool Attendant.” Do you know how many teenagers looking for a job online will refer friends with, “Dude, I saw this great ‘Pool Attendant’ gig that you would love.” When you write a job title or provide fodder for the description, we need to be mindful of who is searching and what they are thinking. Use keywords now to be found. Use jargon later to be understood.
- Write job titles to be scanned, not read. The wunderkinds at Indeed, Glassdoor, Career Builder, and any other job board will tell you the same thing – keep it short. Among thousands of job postings that are placed online every month, the titles with minimal characters – 12 to 20 have been statistically best – get the most clicks and views. Why? They get to the point. If you aren’t sure the pipeline will fill with qualified candidates, that’s why the job description is important. You must get their attention first because – with their thumbs scrolling quickly – you don’t have long to get noticed.
- Don’t overuse “crutch keywords.” When writing a job description, it is easy to use the same term repeatedly. That constant use of your core keyword makes sense to get a candidate’s attention. But Google hates that and will punish you for it. Let’s say you are writing a job description for an accountant; consider replacing that with “bookkeeper” or even “comptroller” to keep the frequency of any word low. And Google loves that. Open your thesaurus and stop leaning on a single keyword.
- Keep acronyms on the D.L., ASAP. Any way to shorten terms with acronyms is big in legal, medical, financial and other fields, but remember some people may use the full term to be precise in their search. For the job title, it’s good to be descriptive, while at the same time being concise. It’s good to use the full written-out keyword string, with the acronym appearing alongside. Journalism styles note the use of “first reference,” meaning spell out “Registered Nurse” the first time and use “R.N.” (or “RN”) every subsequent time. For job descriptions, use them interchangeably. Now, you may run into a brick wall of SEO when your initials mean more than one thing to more than one group of candidates (like “PA” for “physician assistant” or “production assistant”), but that’s a topic for another blog.
- Titles aren’t the place for shtick. This is widely used in more creative verticals. After all, who wouldn’t be attracted to a job description for a “Digital Alchemist” or “Creative Juggernaut”? A good rule for writing job titles versus descriptions is write for rank, fill in the blanks for reason. What people search should be your general title, sans initials, numbers or internal terminology. What people read can be whatever you feel will bring them to that cherished apply click.
- Titles are not garage sale signs. Every weekend, suburbs are littered with signs with eye-catching, Sharpie-carved headlines like “Shop here,” “Free stuff” and “Great antiques.” While that may work to catch folks on the prowl, it’s not for job titles. Instead of “Sales Superstar Wanted for Traveling Abroad,” just use boring “Regional Sales Manager.” Your dream candidate – regardless of how inventive they are – won’t search for your idealistic language, and will get snatched up by some company that knew the difference.
- Customize the meta tags. If I just lost some recruiters’ attention, come back because you don’t want to miss this. Each job opening has a custom “meta title” and “meta description.” In Greek, “meta” means “among or beyond.” In Web-speak, that means “summarize what you have because this is the first impression you will create online.” You know the brief copy you see for Google search results? That’s the meta description, and you don’t want to neglect it.
- URLs should contain job titles. This tends to be forgotten most among the recruiting community – you can tell with all the hyphens, underscores, hashes, slashes, ellipses and even dollar signs seen in URLs. URLs use those punctuation marks for other things, so placing them in your job titles will only confuse Google and get your job overlooked. Search engines have gotten better about handling these, but are no different than your cherished candidate – they don’t want to be confused trying to find you. That simplicity upfront will keep your page rank positive for the long run.
While jargon has crept into your organization’s job titles and descriptions, you must screen it out online. Even if Internal documents read like Finnegans Wake, your recruiting materials should read more like a Dummies Guide.
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