Selling your job: Tips for successfully marketing your open positions

By Amy Brown, Microsoft business manager

Think about this: There may be thousands of open job positions available annually in the United States in your company's area of expertise. As a hiring manager, you may have 10 of these openings on your own team. What are you doing to ensure that your openings stand out amongst all of the other open positions? How much time have you personally dedicated to writing a job posting that really sells your group, your mission, and the key role that the job plays in your company's success? Do you think that time up-front would be a worthwhile investment? Read on for insider tips from some high-tech recruiters and a recent recruit on how to write a stellar job posting.

Job postings that sell, and job postings that don't

You should answer the following four questions if you want to successfully market your job:

  • What is my team's mission and charter?
  • What makes this opportunity different and exciting?
  • What effect does this role have inside and outside our company?
  • What kind of candidate do you want to attract? Have you built a profile in your job posting that will attract candidates with the right skills and competencies?

Once you've answered these questions and have a profile for the person who you want to attract, you're ready to craft the job posting.

A recent job seeker shared some of his insights for writing compelling job postings:

  • Be precise about what the job entails     A job posting could be a potential candidate's first impression of your organization and the job opportunity. The job posting should grab the potential candidate's attention.
  • Be honest and forthright     Some job postings are not representative of the actual responsibilities of the positions.

Consider the following two job descriptions for a network engineer position:

Before the description was revised, the posting was informative in terms of job responsibilities, but it didn't communicate what is special and unique about the team. It also didn't describe the position's potential impact on the organization.

However, the revised posting accomplishes your goal — getting the best pool of potential job candidates — by addressing the two points mentioned earlier. It also contains information about the team, describes the potential impact of the position, and emphasizes working with the latest technology.

Example 1: A typical job posting

Network Engineer

The candidate will provide Tier 2/3 engineering and support for routing and switching equipment used at our company's Intranet and Internet Data Centers. This network is a global multiprotocol network that uses state-of-the-art routing and switching equipment migrating from older legacy systems. Support extends to include planning sessions and produce LAN/WAN designs for local & remote customer locations, validating customer requirements, capacity planning, network design, technical specifications, networking product selection, carrier provisioning, and project scheduling and program management. This person will work closely with Network and Data Center Operations teams and management, suppliers of network equipment providers of leased line services, Engineering/Implementation and Program Management.

The posting continued with a list of seven requirements for the job, and a list of 12 recommended qualifications.

Example 2: A job posting that sells

Wanna work on a real network?

Psst! Wanna work on a real network? We have immediate openings from entry-level network engineers to senior network engineers. Our network covers 65 countries, uses the latest leading-edge technologies, and definitely pays for performance. We run everything from modem dial-ups to OC-12 connections, with OC-48 on the way. This is not your run-of-the-mill network. We don't just talk about it; it is on our network now. Multicast — we got it streaming. QOS — we are shaping traffic and working with developers to make it work. Not tomorrow, but today! Seen the wildest and latest state-of-the-art equipment in the trade rags? It's either already installed on our network or in our test labs for future deployment. Don't wait for your company to upgrade while your skills deteriorate — come join ours and stay current. Work on that equipment  — don't just dream about it. This is a one-stop shop that does monitoring, repair work, and on-the-fly engineering if required. Our team works hard and plays hard. If you are looking for a challenging and demanding environment, and if you are a "star," this is your opportunity.

The posting then provides a detailed paragraph of the job's responsibilities and includes a list of four recommended qualifications.


Composing job postings that sell is just the first step in attracting the right candidates and filling your open position. The second, equally important, step is recruiting. Your hiring team has to "source" candidates by promoting your open jobs in a variety of ways, including Web postings, print, and conferences. You need to identify select candidate markets to best target the talent you need.

Here are a few tips to help maximize your job candidate search:

  • Where?     Determine the top five places you should seek experienced candidates. Think about where you would search if you were looking for a job, and find out where your team members would go if they were making a change.
  • Who?     Consider how a recruiter could find you if you were not actively seeking a position. Are there industry-related, or even non-work-related, Web sites you visit on a regular basis that would be appropriate for promoting your job openings? Are there trade publications, events, or special interest groups that would draw the type of candidate you need for your team? Often, the ideal candidate is the one who isn't looking for a new opportunity, so it is critical to share any information that can assist recruiters in their hunt.
  • Why?     Invest the time to make sure that everyone involved in the recruiting process knows the top three reasons someone should work on your team. Make sure that they can represent your opportunity, either in print or in person, as well as you can. It's important to remember that the better they understand your open positions and teams, the better they can market and sell your job.
  • How?     If you are working with a recruiter, set mutual expectations. Give the recruiter a commitment of your time and your team's time. Find out what you can expect in return and what the average number of days to fill a position is for your type of openings. This can vary widely depending on the job category and level of position, as well as the volume of openings on your recruiter's plate.

Reaching the right candidates with the right message

In your search for the perfect candidate, take a moment to review your current job postings, and see whether you or members of your team find them compelling. If not, use the tips outlined in this article to create postings that really sell your open positions and the team. Also, take a look at the job postings from the applicant's point of view.

Your ability to write a compelling job posting, and design and implement a creative search strategy will enhance your hiring efforts tenfold. Enticing job postings also have the potential for gaining good public relations when the positions advertised are seen as exciting and interesting.

About the author     Amy Brown has been with Microsoft since 1996 and has recruited more than 140 employees. During the past nine years, she has been a recruiter, a human resources manager, and a hiring manager; currently, she works as a business manager. She is a frequent speaker and writer on the topics of hiring and human resources management.

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