Are your Job Descriptions Search Friendly?

By Veronica Scrimshaw, NPAworldwide

There are a lot of things to consider when writing job descriptions. They need to be interesting and compelling, something that will attract the right candidates AND get them to click the ad/apply to the job. They need to be well-written, not just a copy-and-paste of what the client sends you. And they need to be search-engine friendly. What does that mean? Well, it means that the spiders and crawlers that scour the web can find your job description, figure out what it’s all about, and return it in a job seeker’s search engine results. All of this is more art than science.

Not too long ago, the team at Social Talent hosted a webinar for our members about writing killer job ads, and one of their tips really resonated with me. Here is the tip: copy your job description and paste it into Wordle, which is a little program that makes “word clouds” out of text. Words are sized in order of frequency – so the words that are used the most will be the largest in the word cloud. This is a great way for any recruiter to visually understand how Google and other search engines “see” your job descriptions. I’ll show you how it works.

Let’s say I’m interested in digital marketing jobs. I would probably go to Google and type in something like “digital marketing jobs in Michigan.” And most likely, the top results for that search would be from Indeed, Careerbuilder, SimplyHired, Monster, or other large job boards and aggregators. That’s great for a job seeker, but it might *not* be so great for a boutique recruitment agency. It’s tough to get to the top of the SERPs (search engine results pages), because the large advertisers are effectively setting the price for pay-per-click ads. Most recruitment firms have to figure out how to do it organically, and that means you have to think like a job seeker. Here is a Wordle that I created using the job description for a digital marketing director role:


As you can see, the word marketing is the most prominent in the word cloud above. In fact, it appears twice: once with a capital M and once in all lowercase letters. Digital is also fairly large. I can see Director in really small letters. I don’t see the word “job” or “jobs” anywhere, nor do I see any mention of a location. The other words that are fairly prominent:  management, team, drive, Salesforce, etc. are probably not words that most job seekers would use in an initial search. In this example, Google would likely figure out that this content is marketing-related, but it may NOT think it’s a close enough match to my query for “digital marketing jobs in Michigan.” And that means, I’m not going to see that ad.

Now that you’ve seen what (and how) a search engine sees, what can you do to improve your job descriptions?

  1. First, decide what your most important keywords are. Hint: The job title and the word “job” or “jobs” should be pretty high on your list.
  2. Then, make sure your most important keywords are used with some frequency, and get them towards the top of your job description.
  3. Use your keywords in a “natural” way – that is, work them into sentences in ways that make sense and would be used in regular speech or writing. Hint: don’t just type your keywords over and over or otherwise “stuff” them into your job descriptions. The search engines are wise to that trick, and they don’t like it.
  4. Make your own Wordle – if the biggest words that you see are NOT your most important keywords, you’ve got some work to do.
  5. Read more tips and great ideas from Social Talent here.

Do you want to know more about NPAworldwide and a membership in this global recruitment network? Contact Trond Larsen, Talent Gallery, phone +47 9130 2220 or send an e-mail to