Cropped image of young woman holding resume over white

Too often when people hire, they use lofty job titles to make roles sound more appealing. (Not that financial advisors know anything about that.)

But if you’re looking to hire an assistant, the job posting needs be clear and straightforward, said Tara Parry, director of permanent services at staffing firm Robert Half in Vancouver. Creative job titles can backfire.

Ask yourself, “If somebody were to search for this position, would they find my posting or not?” Parry said. “And if it’s not a senior role, don’t call it senior — because otherwise you’ll have senior people applying, and they’ll quit when they realize how junior the role actually is.”

Every job posting must answer three main questions: What’s the company, what’s the job, and what skills are needed to do it well.

“Use language like ‘we’ and ‘you’ so the applicant can view themselves in the role,” Parry said. “The way your brain looks at it as it’s reading, you actually start to insert yourself into it.”

Some of the keywords that should be used include “multitasking,” “organized” and “comfortable with ambiguity,” she said. Depending on the role, you could also ask for social media prowess and strong communication skills.

Less is more: attention spans for written documentation is “really short these days,” Parry said.

“You don’t want to list every duty you want this person to do. Instead, you maybe want four or five bullet points around the day-to-day expectations,” she said. “And maybe three or four about the skill requirements.”

Longer postings and job descriptions can inadvertently screen out some candidates.

“The longer a job description is, the more women will self select out,” Parry said. “Women read a job description and say, ‘I’ve never done that.’ A man will read the same job description and say, ‘I could do that.’”

There’s also a lot of research around the words used in a job description and the impact of masculine and feminine words, she said. Parry likes to copy and paste job descriptions into a free website that analyzes the language used and highlights problematic areas.

“Statistically speaking, [by] just changing one or two words, you increase your number of female applicants, but you don’t decrease the number of male applicants you get,” she said.

Brett Evans, a partner at Capital Markets Advisors LLC in Toronto, said it’s important not to sugarcoat the day-to-day responsibilities.

“There’s going to be a lot of grunt work here in most of these roles. They need to be straight up,” he said.

The labour market is tightening, and Evans only expects that to get worse, so a focus on progression and growth opportunities can help attract top candidates.

“Show them the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

Pay transparency is becoming more than just a best practice — it’s the law in many jurisdictions. For example, all job postings in British Columbia must include the expected pay or pay range as of Nov. 1, 2023.

“That’s a good thing, and we should welcome more of it,” he said.

If you’re stuck writing a job description, Parry sees nothing wrong with using artificial intelligence (AI), like ChatGPT, to put together the first draft.

“Realistically speaking, how creative can you be with job descriptions? Why totally reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to,” she said. “But put your own personalization on it. And double-check it because AI isn’t always sensitive to things like male- or female-coded words.”

Another option is to search for and read several advisor assistant job postings, she said.

When the posting is ready for public consumption, both Parry and Evans recommended LinkedIn as the best way to spread the word. Other options include job boards like Indeed and Monster to attract the best candidates.