How To Write Job Advertisements To Attract Qualified Nurses

Strong job postings attract more qualified candidates more quickly.

But it’s a vicious job market given the pervasive nursing shortage, said Tammy Pennington, product manager for “This creates a highly competitive environment for nurse recruiters to find the best candidates,” she said.

Most organizations have a lot of open positions, so it can be easy for some recruiters to take shortcuts when writing job advertisements, Pennington said.

“Even though one has a busy schedule, it behooves nurse recruiters to take the time to create a well-written job posting,” Pennington said. “A good job title can make or break you in terms of capturing enough qualified candidates to fill open positions.”

Add keywords and descriptive phrases to job advertisements

When a nurse searches for a new position, many jobs will pop up during the search, Pennington said.

“If a great job title has not been written with the appropriate keywords, it can prevent many nurses from clicking to open the posting to read further,” she said.

Pennington said recruiters can capture more candidates who are qualified for the position they want to fill by including a short, descriptive phrase to describe the type of person they seek.

Say, for example, you’re recruiting RNs for a busy emergency department. “The job title could state that the organization is looking for ‘energetic RNs’ or ‘patient champions,’ to describe the type of nurse they seek for the role,” Pennington said.

Another important step for recruiters is to include the degrees and certifications they are seeking in candidates directly in the job title, Pennington said.

“If you have any deal breakers — for instance, if you only want to hire a BSN, MSN or board-certified nurse — place that right in the job title,” she said. “This can help reduce the number of unqualified candidates from applying for that position, which can save recruiters time.”

Further, using the acronyms in job titles for the level of education and certifications you require for the position is also a wise approach, as search engines also use these, Pennington said.

“Nurses will typically conduct their job search using acronyms, such as when looking for a position as an ICU nurse,” she said.

Incorporate company culture into the description

If company culture is important to the hiring manager and recruiter, find a word that reflects the company culture and use it in the job title to filter candidates who might be more likely to embrace that culture, Pennington. “This can be a time-saver,” she added.

Because of a lack of time, some recruiters cut and paste from other job advertisements when writing job postings, Pennington said. Avoid this job posting pitfall. It does not work and is the least effective strategy.

Another strategy to write effective job titles is to ask your best talent to tell you what they love about their jobs, Pennington said.

“If you have rock stars, engage them in the process,” she said. “You can tap into their insights about the positions you’re trying to fill and include their comments in your job posting and description.”

There is one additional benefit to using the comments of valued employees who are already working in the same position you are trying to fill.

“Many times, they can encapsulate some of the best features about a job that a recruiter may not even be aware of,” Pennington said. “Current employees can also fill in the blanks on special skills that are needed for the position.”

Effective use of applicant tracking systems

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) can be helpful throughout the hiring process. However, some of the filters recruiters use can sometimes block out good candidates.

“Many nurses generally don’t update their resumes as often as other professions with regards to certifications and experience,” Pennington said. “Because of this, it’s wise to conduct random checks of the rejected resumes in your ATS, to determine if the system and filters are working the way you intended it. You don’t want to miss out on qualified candidates.”

Yes, salary really does matter

Some recruiters and healthcare organizations are hesitant to include a salary range in their job postings. However, listing a salary in your job advertisements can get more clicks from nurses and more applications, Pennington said.

“The more up front you are about the salary being offered, the more applications you’ll get,” she said.

To make it an easy decision for a candidate to click and apply, Pennington said it’s imperative to include these key items in your job posting:

  1. Salary (at the top of the posting is most important)
  2. Perks (especially those other organizations don’t offer)
  3. Benefits (health insurance, child care, tuition reimbursement, bonuses, etc.)
  4. Job duties
  5. Organizational culture
  6. Unique features of the job
  7. Patient population served

Where to post your open jobs

For job advertisements to reach a lot of nurses, you have to post it multiple places. Recruiters need to bear in mind that one post on one board or listing the job only on their organization’s website isn’t enough to get the word out, Pennington said.

“For nurses to see and hear your message, you’ll need to post the position at least six times,” she said. “This is where utilizing multiple channels to advertise the position can be very effective, such as, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media platforms.”

Targeted marketing for direct emailing of qualified candidates for open positions using robust, relevant databases like’s can also be helpful, Pennington said.

Also, if recruiters are having a hard time filling a position, they’ll want to consider having their advertising partners and vendors take a look at their posting for a possible revision.

“It may need to be rewritten to capture a wider audience,” Pennington said.