Welcome to the job announcement playbook

We want to make job announcements easier to read and understand so job seekers find the job they're looking for and we can support agencies to hire the best talent available.

This playbook will help you:

  • Know what is required and what's optional in a job announcement
  • Understand best practices on creating an effective job announcement.
  • Learn how other agencies are improving their job announcements.

This site was last updated Wed, 20 Apr 2022 19:33:29 +0000.

Build an ongoing relationship between the staffing specialist and the hiring manager

The problem

Many hiring managers and staffing specialists (human resource specialists or assistants who support staffing actions) are unclear of one another’s role. At times, hiring managers may not fully understand the hiring process. As a result, the entire hiring process is less efficient and effective.

How can staffing specialists help fix this problem?

When there’s a need to hire someone, establishing a relationship with the hiring manager right away is critical. Staffing specialists who work in concert with their hiring manager (and vice versa) better assess and hire the best talent.

Here’s what you can do

  • Hold a kickoff meeting with the hiring manager as soon as a hiring need is identified.
  • Discuss your roles and responsibilities as a staffing specialist and the roles and responsibilities of the hiring manager. Identify who will do what and when during the hiring process.
  • Have recurring touchpoints throughout the hiring process.
  • Send documents (e.g., draft job opportunity announcement) to the hiring manager for their review and feedback.
  • Engage subject matter experts to assist in the hiring process—ask them to help interview, review applications or serve on assessment panels.

Key questions

  • Do the hiring manager and I have a shared understand of how the hiring process works?
  • Is this a new job or a replacement?
  • Do we need to change or update the position description?
  • What, if any, assessment will be used?
  • Is there a subject matter expert we can ask to help with interviewing or assessing the candidates?
  • What are our action items and when do we need to complete them?

Focus on the job announcement content

The problem

Job announcements often focus too much on regulations and other legal content instead of what a job seeker needs to know. As a result, the job seeker doesn’t have enough information to make an informed decision of whether they are the right fit. This also results in agencies attracting poorly qualified applicants.

Why should we fix the problem?

You should write the job announcement for the job seeker. An effective job announcement tells the job seeker what they need to know about the job (e.g., duties and responsibilities) and what it means to be qualified for the position. Well-written job announcements with the right information will attract better qualified and more informed applicants.

Here’s what you can do

  • [Use plain language](https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-111publ274/pdf/PLAW-111publ274.pdf){:target="\_blank"}—it’s the law.
    • Write a clear job title.
    • Use other [best practices](https://www.plainlanguage.gov/resources/){:target="\_blank"} for writing plain language job announcements.
  • Speak to the job seeker
    • Use pronouns to personalize the content and experience (i.e. use “you”, “your” when speaking to the job seeker).
    • Don’t use dehumanizing terms like “incumbent” or “candidate”.
    • Read the job announcement as if you’re new to the government—does it make sense?
  • Only include content that the job seeker needs.
    • Write clear job duties for the job announcement.
    • Consider the job seeker’s perspective—what do they need to know about this job?
    • Use the job analysis and description to identify the most important information.
  • Read the job announcement guidelines to know the type of content that goes in each section of the job announcement
  • Read the Fair & Transparent section of the playbook to know what legal and regulation content is automatically included in the job announcement. You don’t need to repeat this content anywhere else.
  • Organize the content logically
    • Place the most important information at the top of each section in the job announcement. For example, place the most important job duties first in the duties section.
    • Use bulleted lists to break out separate duties or qualifications.

Key questions

  • Does the content make sense when you read it out loud?
  • Did you put the right content in the right sections?
  • Is any of the content repetitive? Do you repeat the same legal or regulations that are in the fair and transparent section?
  • What does the job seeker need to know at this stage in the process, and is this information included?

Review your job announcement templates

The problem

Agencies often create too many job announcement templates making it hard to keep track of and review them. As a result, many templates are not up-to-date and display wrong information.

Why should we fix it?

Good job announcement templates make your job easier and more efficient and build trust with the job seeker. The fewer templates you have, the easier it is to update them with the ongoing changes.

Here’s what you can do

  • Review your job announcement templates now to make sure they’re up-to-date with current information.
  • Reduce the number of job announcement templates you use—a smaller number of templates is more manageable.
  • Put a process in place to review your templates on a regular basis.

Key questions

  • How many job announcement templates do you have?
  • How many job announcement templates do you actually use?
  • Are any templates repetitive?
  • When was the last time you updated the templates?
  • Can you remove any templates?

Work with your TAS to measure the success of your job announcements

The problem

The job announcement is not measured formally, so it’s unclear which parts of the job announcement work well and don’t work well.

Why should we fix it?

Measuring the success of your job announcement is the only way to know if the job announcement is successful in attracting the right applicants for the job. Maybe your job announcement is working well, and if so, you should share what you’re doing with other colleagues or agencies so they can adopt best practices. Or, maybe you’re having a hard time getting qualified applicants, and you need to identify ways to improve your job announcement. By putting success metrics in place, you can determine what areas need improvement.

If you’re using USA Staffing or Monster as a TAS partner, they can produce reports for you. Check with your agency’s TAS partner to determine what reports they can send to you.

Here’s what you can do

  • Ask your TAS to create reports regularly to measure your job announcement.
  • Consider getting data for:
    • Ineligible applicants
    • Incomplete applications
    • Not qualified applicants
    • Eligible, but not referred
    • Subject matter expert reviews
    • Any other metrics
  • Use the data to inform your decisions on what you include in future job announcements.
  • Share your data with USAJOBS—if you’re seeing a poor trend, tell us, so we know what’s working and what’s not. If you’re seeing good results, tell us so we can share what you’re doing right with other agencies.

Talk to candidates

The problem

The hiring process often feels too impersonal to candidates. Often, candidates have no idea what happens to their application, because they never receive a status. Many candidates make it to the final cut and are still unclear about what the job is and whether it’s a good fit. Some candidates are hired without ever talking to the hiring agency or manager. Unfortunately, this lack of communication becomes the expectation, so the cycle continues.

Why should we fix the problem?

Open, transparent and continuous communication is the key to finding the right person to fill a job. It’s essential to talk to the person the hiring manager is considering to hire throughout the onboarding process.

Here’s what you can do

  • Provide a point of contact for applicants. If it's a shared inbox, make sure to check it regularly and respond to inquiries.
  • Answer questions and provide status updates.
  • Contact candidates with next steps once you’ve narrowed down your list:
    • Clarify the job duties using plain language.
    • Ask the candidate if they have any questions about the job.
    • Be clear about the next steps in the hiring process.

Key questions

  • Do you know what the job duties are?
  • Is the job announcement duties section clear and written for the job seeker?
  • Are candidates clear on the job duties, and are they aware of next steps in the hiring process?