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Want to attract top talent? You've got to be persuasive

In the musical Fiddler on the Roof, a matchmaker takes on the task of finding the perfect husband for one of a poor milkman's daughters, someone who pleases both the parents and the bride-to-be.

Online job sites, like that busy lady, take on the task of helping match applicants with the perfect jobs, and jobs with the perfect applicants.

Engines like Monster, Workopolis and Dice not only supply those all-important matches, their sites provide tools and advice for applicants and employers alike. Employers and applicants can research salaries for positions, learn interviewing techniques, and find out how to write alluring job postings.

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Given the competition for prime candidates, persuasive postings are key. They have to stand to get noticed among the mass of openings. And there are many, many positions listed on job sites.

Andrea Garson, vice president of human resources at Workopolis, says the site hosts 30,000 to 40,000 active Canadian openings, and is visited by two million people per month. Robert Waghorn, senior communications manager at Monster Canada says that averages 20,000 openings and over a million unique visitors per month, while's 80,000 jobs span the U.S. and Canada and draw two million visitors monthly.

"If a small business learns how to use the tools and searches effectively, they will find candidates," says Ms. Garson.

Tom Silver, senior vice president of North America for Dice Holdings, parent of, agrees. Dice is a career site dedicated to engineering and tech positions and, he says, "What makes a site like this effective is that employers of any size can search for candidates with specific skill sets."

He advises employers to write the best and most compelling job descriptions they possibly can. The listed job title should describe what the job really is; "VP of Employee Experience" may be a fun internal title, for example, but it isn't as easy for an applicant to find in a search as "VP of Human Resources".

"Provide a good listing of required skills," he says. "Employers sometimes skimp in this area, and they shouldn't. Be as descriptive as possible so someone coming to the site has a good idea of the position. Include a salary range, and be specific about location."

"Work on search terms," adds Mr. Waghorn. "Put keywords into your post."

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But, says Ms. Garson, spend more time on the benefits you can offer than on what the candidate has to have. Only include candidate criteria if their absence is a deal-breaker; if, for example, the successful candidate must have a driver's license, or speak a specific language, say so. "Employers have to think like marketers," she says. "Stick to what will attract candidates to apply for your job rather than another with the same title."

Mr. Waghorn suggests that recruiters add a key attractor to the job title. A key attractor can be as simple as an advantage the role or the organization offers, for example: Web developer for the fastest growing global e-commerce solutions provider. "Recruiters can also choose to make the hyperlink to a posting more attractive to a particular generation cohort by taking into account demographic segmentation issues such as life stage demands," he goes on. "For instance, GENXers, often needing to care for aging parents while raising children, will give work/life balance a high priority. An example of an attractive job title here would then be: Senior Field Engineer - Telecommuting is available."

Adds Ms. Garson, "Know your target market. Look at what's attractive to that age group; a 20-year-old is probably not interested in retirement benefits." And, she goes on, small businesses should talk about the benefits of working for a small business. "If you don't know what they are, ask your current employees," she says. "Finding a cultural fit is really big for job seekers."

Of course, if applicants don't notice it, the best post in the world will be ineffective. Use site tools to make your posting stand out, she recommends. Insert logos, bolding, or other available features to catch applicants' eyes.

You're not entirely on your own in deciding what makes a posting attractive. Like the helpful matchmaker, these job sites all provide resources such as webinars and self-training on how to create postings that will draw in applicants.

While there is no cost to applicants, employers do have to pony up some cash. The amount varies, depending on the site, based on the length of time you want the job to appear and in how many regions. For example,'s basic package, including one posting, is $495 (U.S.) for one month, and a regional posting on Workopolis starts at $325.

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These charges often include assistance in creating the posting as well as other services. Monster, for example, uses analytics to determine how individual postings fare, and will counsel employers on how to improve their effectiveness.

"It's coming down to employer branding," notes Mr. Waghorn. "We're hearing this from job seekers too: they look more for the company than the job."

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