Why do all job postings look like grocery lists?

In the absence of a well-defined company culture with a clearly-defined #EVP, targeted candidate personas, values, and #employerbranding pillars, a job posting looks like all the other job postings out there. It blends with the rest! 

In some ways, it’s like giving a fresh coat of paint over a rusty fence; a temporary solution. 

It’s gonna crack sooner than expected, revealing all that rust underneath.

But let’s say you don’t have the budget or the know-how for doing things right. Regardless of your reasons, the first step is to accept them. The second is to take action.  

Keep reading to learn more about making your job posting look less like a grocery list! 

How to make your job posting look less like a grocery list & more like a poem 


Today’s job posting looks much like a grocery list. Whether it’s an opening for a TA manager, software engineer, or accountant, there’s a pattern/template that companies (with a few exceptions) follow. The average job posting contains: 

  • Company description (usually too long)
  • Company values (usually too many)
  • Candidate responsibilities/duties (usually too many)
  • Candidate (preferred) qualifications
  • Company benefits (usually vague) 
  • “Apply now” button (usually accompanied by “Or send us your resume to [email])

Copy, paste, assemble, done! 

Leaving aside the patches and the bullet points, mentions of “we” and “you” in job postings are getting too much credit. Customization is more than recommended, especially now, in 2022 as more candidates appreciate context around values, culture, mission, and vision. But there has to be balance, otherwise “we” and “you” in a job ad becomes overused. 

There’s more … when “we” meets “you”

Now let’s take a job posting, in this case, Talent Acquisition Manager, for no particular reason. In this article, the aim is to have a closer look at the core “issues” with the job posting. At the end, we will also attempt to do a makeover. Keep reading as you might find that your job posting looks very similar. 

The issue with “About us” 

Almost every “About us” section of a job posting contains information about the company. Who they are, what they do, and how they do it. Although such a description might work on a company’s website, it doesn’t work in a job post because it’s general, vague, and not at all targeted at the candidate persona. 

Also, there’s no information about the type of candidate the company seeks to hire. It’s a “we” issue that focuses a bit too much on bragging about how cool X company is, and that working for them is amazing. We’re not saying it isn’t, but once again customization goes a long way. Instead of writing about what the company does, it would be better to write about the ideal candidate. Some information about the story of the company might also compel prospects to read more. 

The idea is to instill an emotion from the very first lines. And if your first paragraph is a section about the company, why not make it unique? Answer yourself the following question: WHY are you looking for “Talent Acquisition Manager” and HOW does your ideal candidate look like? 

The issue with “What you’ll do”

The average job posting is a general description of a role and its duties. Written by HR, hiring manager, or recruiter, it almost feels like something put together with little to no effort. Because we all know what a Talent Acquisition Manager is, so why bother with customization.

better job ads

However, the more technical the role gets, the more painful it becomes to one particular company employee: the recruiter. Most recruiters don’t have a technical background, meaning that they don’t know the ins and outs of programming languages, for example. To them, job postings are a real headache. And because they don’t understand the job, they usually steal bullet points from other job postings.  

The issue with “What you bring”

And speaking about bullet points, let’s get one thing straight out: a job posting is not a shopping list. It’s not a list of demands either. Let’s have a look at the example below: 

“What you bring” sounds like a must. It makes me feel that I have to have those 6 bullet points, otherwise, I’m out. What if I cannot bring “strong writing skills”? Does this mean I don’t qualify for the role? 

The issue with “Nice to Have”

Almost every job posting out there has one particular section called “Nice to Have”. It’s a list of extras that companies believe look cool. It doesn’t and here’s why: 

  • It doesn’t feel inclusive. It basically says that if I have those extras, I have better chances of getting the job. So if I don’t have them, should I even apply?  

The issue with “Don’t worry about formalities”

And at the end, following a list of formalities, demands, and nice-to-have’s, we have a final paragraph meant to “smooth” the way and convince us to apply. 

The sentence “Don’t worry about formalities”  followed by “We care about you and your motivation” feels forced.  

The beauty of a customized job posting & how to make yours stand out 

Why should you care about customization when writing a job posting? First, because nobody else is doing it (yet), which can give you and your company leverage. Whether you like it or not, today’s job market is extremely competitive, and experienced candidates no longer read job postings, let alone apply. Candidates expect to be contacted directly as 2022 is a candidate’s job market and The Great Resignation really made job seekers reevaluate their options. If you’d like to read more, we’ve written a detailed article about The Great Resignation HERE

Second, customization makes you stand out. It can make your job posting look less like a grocery list and more like a poem targeted at the type of reader interested in that particular genre; in this case, your candidate persona. 

And now, let’s go back to our job posting listed in the lines above. The job posting was for “Talent Acquisition Manager”. Let’s give it a makeover. 

The role: Talent Acquisition Manager 

The description: Focus, ownership, positive thinking, and collaboration – the core abilities we’re looking for in our next Talent Acquisition Manager. If you’re a people person seeking a new challenge in Fintech, we would love to meet you. 

The skills we’re looking for: At [Company], soft skills matter! First and foremost, we’re looking for a great communicator; a team player. We believe that it’s human to make mistakes as long as you own them, learn more about them, and strive to find solutions. Regarding technical skills, the team at [Company] needs someone who can manage a full 360-degree recruiting process. Proactivity is key and you should know your way around platforms such as LinkedIn, XING, Honeypot, and Talent.io. 

The skills we’re NOT looking for: If procrastination is your BFF, there’s no point in applying. We take our job seriously and we expect you to do the same. 

The company: We are [Company], a FinTech scale-up in the accounting and bookkeeping industry. 

CTA: Curious to know more? 

Why is our makeover better? 

  • It’s short and sweet. 
  • It’s not a grocery list.
  • It’s not a list of demands.
  • It’s not a LIST. 
  • It opens the job posting with a targeted paragraph that will compel the few, repel the many. 
  • It lists the core skills the company seeks in the ideal candidate without too much fuss. 
  • It mentions the role the company is looking to hire.
  • It mentions both soft and technical skills in a just a few lines (enough to make the candidate curious)
  • It doesn’t ask for too much from the candidate (allowing the candidate to come in with his/her own set of skills, abilities, qualities, etc.)
  • It doesn’t include an ‘Apply for this job’ button.
  • It doesn’t mention that the company is the best of the best (no bragging)

Every company out there seeks to hire experienced people. But listing all of the skills (both soft & hard) in a job posting won’t attract and retain qualified candidates. Listing incredible benefits (financial/non-financial) feels tempting and often times listing company values is almost irresistible. Keep in mind that it’s a candidate market where people read about your company someplace else; usually LinkedIn, Glassdoor, or your website. There’s no need to include EVERYTHING in a job posting as candidates won’t read it.  Bottom line is: they won’t read past the first 3 lines of your job posting. 

Rather than make your job posting look and sound like a grocery list, customize it! Write with your ideal candidate persona in mind, and should you need assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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