How to craft the best job titles

In what’s become a sea of online job postings, you need yours to stand out. But how do you bait the hook that lures in the best candidates for a given position? It all starts with a well-crafted job title.

Writing an effective job title that matches the job description seems like a simple task. But it gets overly complicated by competing interests in the employment marketing process. Job seekers, hiring managers, recruitment specialists, and search engines all seem to have a stake in the game. Here’s what to keep in mind as you compose the best job titles.

Keep it simple, but precise

To write better job titles, apply the KISS principle — Keep It Simple, Stupid. While you want your posting to stand out, you also need to effectively and efficiently communicate what the actual job is.

As Christine Stack, director of senior talent acquisition at media agency MEC North America in New York, says, “From the recruiting perspective, communications have to be simple. Call the job what it is, what your target audience knows it to be.”

At the same time, don’t be vague. “When I’m sourcing candidates, if I type in ‘digital director,’ I get everything under the sun,” says Stack. Other faulty examples include:

  • A mortgage lender’s ad titled “File Prep” says too little about the role and describes a task rather than an occupation.
  • If you’re looking for a java developer, don’t advertise for a web designer. If the job also includes web-design duties, specify so in the job requirements.
  • “Population Management Assistant” could bring a number of diverse functions to mind, but which one is intended?

Focusing on simplicity and precision will help you zero in on an accurate, effective job title.

Make it searchable

It’s tempting to get creative or flashy when trying to write the best job titles, but be careful. “‘Chief people officer’ might sound like a great job title in theory, but will candidates find this position when searching online for VP of HR positions? Most likely not,” explains Roberta Matuson, president of consulting firm Human Resource Solutions.

Instead, use a search engine’s type-ahead feature to view generic terms that describe your open position. The type-ahead or autocomplete feature tells you what people commonly look for once you type in your first keyword or two. Choose the best fit from among the suggestions.

Speak to the outsider, not the insider

Hiring managers often use terminology specific to their organization, thinking the specificity will attract the right person for the job. But most people don’t know your company-specific lingo.

Using titles like “Accountant Level II” or “Project Manager – Architecture S12-3622” might have a very specific meaning within your organization, but external candidates won’t know whether Level II is the highest, or near the bottom. Instead, ask incumbents in the same or similar position: “What terms would you use to search for a job like this?”

Additionally, using cryptic lingo in the job title might actually impede your job posting results because the extra verbiage can drag down your ad’s ranking in search results. So, leave numbers, codes, and company-specific terminology out of the job title and instead explain those terms in the body copy if they add value in context.

Write for the job seeker

As a recruiter, hiring manager, or marketing specialist writing a job title, it can be tempting to think about other stakeholders involved in the process. For example, you might try to get creative with the wording in order to indirectly inflate the importance of other roles, or to impress a client or supervisor.

Don’t sacrifice effectiveness for pizzazz or ego. Remember, your goal is to recruit top candidates, not indulge the whims of your internal stakeholders. The best job titles keep the job seeker at the center of the process.

Save your prose for the job description

When it comes to the job title, dare to be boring. “Everybody tries to reinvent, be more clever and creative, so we make up these ridiculous titles, we post them, and no one responds,” says Stack. Instead, keep your job title simple and give yourself a bit more stylistic leeway in the job description.

For example, “evangelist” may seem like a hip recruitment marketing term, but it lacks precision as a search term. So, save it for the job description and keep it out of the job title. But don’t go too crazy in the description, either — you still need to use conventional language to optimize search results. Search engines will reward your stylistic consistency with high rankings.

“Make sure that the job title and location are consistent in the page title, URL, and within the body of the description,” says Neil Costa, CEO of HireClix, a recruitment marketer in Gloucester, Mass. Attracting stylistic attention won’t do any good if your job title and description get poor search results.

Start attracting the best candidates today

Finding quality candidates starts with writing the best job titles, but there’s so much more to it. As SEO gets more complicated, and job search platforms more plentiful, you need to find ways to get your job postings to the top of the list. Get help with this and more from Monster Hiring Solutions, where you’ll receive expert recruiting advice, the latest hiring trends, and even great Monster deals.