Given the ongoing skilled labour shortage in Canada, it’s more important than ever to create concise, comprehensive job postings. Using the appropriate terminology and including relevant details makes it easier to attract the right candidates.

Still trying to figure out where to start? Keep job-seeker priorities in mind. This article will dive into the insights from our recent Ipsos survey. You’ll learn what to avoid, what to include and how to create job postings that set your company apart.

Man and woman looking at phone while sitting on a bench on a train platform.
Man and woman looking at phone while sitting on a bench on a train platform.

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what should you avoid in job postings?

Hiring is a two-way street — while you evaluate job seekers, they’re also assessing your company. You might inadvertently discourage high-quality candidates if your job postings use time-worn cliches.

Competition for top talent is steep, and Canadian job seekers have many options. Our Ipsos survey revealed the top phrases that discourage people from initiating the application process. Here are the red flags.

‘must be willing to take on leadership responsibilities’

Don’t mention leadership responsibilities when hiring for a nonmanagerial role. It tells candidates that you want someone to act as a manager on a regular employee’s salary (without a better job title). When this phrase appears in a job posting, it deters 26% of job seekers from applying.

‘looking for someone driven or highly energetic’

In a job posting, ’driven’ and ’highly energetic’ are often seen as codes for ’prepare to be overworked.’ A potential employee might take these descriptors as a warning sign that the company doesn’t have an adequate workforce, so everyone must work twice as hard.

In some cases, it indicates a company culture that prioritizes personality over performance — when in fact, the two aren’t always connected.

‘duties may vary’

Job seekers don’t want ambiguity in job postings; they need to know exactly what they’re getting into. In fact, 32% of candidates see this type of terminology as a red flag.

Listing specific duties and responsibilities is especially important when you want to attract job seekers of colour; 40% would be hesitant to apply to a job where ’duties may vary.’

‘we are a family’

It may seem innocuous or even endearing to liken your company to a family, but it turns off 25% of job seekers. Potential applicants worry that a ’family’ reference hints at a lack of boundaries or colleagues who are over-involved in each others’ personal lives.

If you’re simply trying to communicate that you care about employees’ well-being, you can do so by explaining benefits or discussing how you offer flexibility for personal obligations.

’industry-specific experience is a must’

In a skilled labour shortage, finding employees with exact-match qualifications is not always possible. A job posting that requires industry-specific experience dissuades 25% of job seekers, largely because it eliminates people with transferable skills.

By eliminating the industry requirement, you can gain access to a wider range of exceptional candidates from diverse professional backgrounds. You’ll also receive applications from people who bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to the table.

table showing red flags
table showing red flags

how do you create job postings that attract candidates?

A great job posting provides critical information up front, enabling candidates to self-select — they can evaluate the position quickly and determine if it meets their needs.

You might get fewer applicants, but the ones you receive are more likely to stick out of the hiring process. That way, your hiring managers can spend less time reviewing resumes and more time interviewing.

When writing a job posting, you must provide enough information without overwhelming readers. Not sure what to include? Our Ipsos survey revealed the factors Canadian job seekers consider when deciding whether to apply:

1. salary range

As you might expect, salary is one of the most important things to include in a job posting. Candidates often use the pay scale to weed out financially unsustainable positions. If you can’t give an exact number, state an approximate range.

About 51% of job seekers are less likely to send in a job application for a position that doesn’t set salary expectations. If you’re hoping to attract women or you’re hiring for a professional position, compensation is key. It’s critical to 51% of professionals and 58% of female job seekers.

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2. work location

Job seekers are all about location; 47% (and 51% of women) want to know where the office is located. That way, they can weigh the commute against the salary and benefits. Make sure to note your remote-work options, too — if a job is fully remote, 76% of job seekers say they’re ’somewhat’ or ’much’ more likely to apply.

Location flexibility is particularly important to women and recent immigrants, which is important if you’re planning to hire immigrants to tackle the labour shortage. Hiring in Quebec? Workers there are less concerned with flexibility and more interested in jobs that are within a 1-hour drive.

3. company culture

Our survey found that company culture is a top-three priority for job seekers, coming in just below salary and location; 42% of candidates want job postings to describe the vibe of the company. In particular, it’s important for 45% of women and 52% of retail workers.

Don’t forget to mention your diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce, if it’s applicable. When making the decision to apply for a position,15% of all job seekers and 20% of people of colour factor in the diversity of the business.

4. work schedule

Post-pandemic, job seekers in Canada are actively looking for flexibility in their professional lives. If your company can adjust work schedules to accommodate employees’ personal circumstances, say so clearly in the job posting.

When you do, 87% of workers are ’much’ or ’somewhat’ more likely to apply for the position. A flexible schedule is just as important as salary, especially for recent immigrants, so it can give your company a distinct competitive advantage.

5. benefits

Salary is important to workers, but benefits matter too. If your job posting doesn’t mention them, you could miss out on 33% of job seekers. Include specific perks and benefits, and make sure to note any other attractive aspects of your compensation package.

When a candidate is deciding between two positions with the same salary and responsibilities, great benefits can tip the scales in your favour.

6. short list of responsibilities

When you’re trying to attract the right candidates, you may be tempted to include an exhaustive list of responsibilities and qualifications. While that strategy can help people compare their skills to the position requirements, it can also be intimidating.

Our survey found that 26% of job seekers are more likely to move on to other opportunities when faced with a long list. A better solution? Keep it short and sweet to avoid overwhelming potential applicants.

table showing must-haves
table showing must-haves

Every advantage matters if your company plans to hire new employees during the global labour shortage. Chances are, your ideal candidates are in high demand — and if you’re hiring for remote positions, you’re competing with businesses across the country. To obtain this article in pdf format, click here.

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