The “Bucket Jobs” Approach and Why It’s a Game Changer for Recruiters

I’m going to ask you a question, and I want you to answer as honestly as possible: Are your job listings truly setting your candidates up for success?

First and foremost, job listings should accurately describe the nature of the job and make the case for why your company is an attractive place to work. So if you’re accomplishing those things, you’re definitely headed in the right direction.

But are you making things as easy as possible on candidates? I have a hunch that you might not be, and here’s why: Most companies make their job listings a reflection of their internal structure and approval processes. As a result, their careers pages are crammed full of job titles that are almost indistinguishable to candidates.

Luckily there’s a way to simplify the candidate experience without compromising the intricacies of your internal process: bucket jobs.

In this blog post, I’ll share why bucket jobs are a useful approach to the organization of careers pages and how can you make use of them:

Problem: Companies have too many similar jobs listed on their careers pages.

You’ve probably run into this issue as an applicant. You go to a careers page and find dozens of jobs that have almost—but not quite—the same title. So you spend way too much time combing through the job descriptions to try to understand the difference between “Assistant Regional Manager” and “Assistant to the Regional Manager,” for example.

Recruiters and hiring managers probably already know that this is because there are varying degrees of seniority and pay grades within a single department (especially at larger companies). But most candidates won’t know this and will spend time trying to understand which role they should apply for before becoming frustrated and giving up… or deciding to apply to multiple roles, which ultimately creates more unnecessary work for recruiters.

When candidates end up applying to multiple jobs, or if they’ve misunderstood the intricacies of the jobs you have listed and applied to a role that’s not the best fit, this can be a huge pain point for everyone on your team. Everyone internally has to check in to decide which role the candidate should actually be considered for, who should be the one to communicate with them and move them through the process, etc.

Besides cluttering up your careers page and creating a confusing candidate experience, this approach to job listings hints at a larger problem: When companies list dozens of similar jobs on their careers pages, it means that they’re forgetting that job listings are essentially advertisements.

The whole point of a job listing is to make the role—and your company—attractive to applicants. It should tell applicants why it’s so great to work for your company and why they should apply. If you haven’t done this, or you’ve created extra work for applicants by making them wade through multiple similar-sounding roles, you’re missing out on the major benefits of having a job listing!

The solution: Use the “bucket jobs” approach

Bucket jobs allow you to simplify what candidates see and streamline the job application process while also keeping internal stakeholders happy.

So how, exactly, does it work?

You start by creating one external facing bucket job, e.g. “software engineer” rather than “software engineer I,” “software engineer II,” etc. You can keep the various roles on the back-end, but only present one role externally. That way, there’s a single job application for all roles within a certain category, and once job applications come in, the recruiting team shares the triage responsibilities of reviewing the résumé, conducting the phone screen, and deciding which job the candidate is the best match for. Once this decision has been made, the candidate moves through the rest of the process as they normally would.

The bucket jobs approach has several benefits: In addition to simplifying and improving the candidate experience, it removes the headache of writing multiple job descriptions. And the triage process generally happens anyway, so it’s not really creating any additional work.

Plus, there’s another advantage: Employees participating in your employee referral program also tend to prefer the bucket job approach because they often want to refer someone, but don’t fully understand which role their referral is the best fit for. Bucket jobs let employees consolidate talent that they want to recommend and allow the recruiting team to sift through the candidates later.

When to use the “bucket jobs” approach

The bucket jobs approach tends to work well for engineering roles as well as any type of role at bigger companies where there are job titles like Marketing Manager I, II, III, etc.

Bucket jobs are also great if you have the type of role where the pipeline is always open and you’re getting a steady stream of candidates, such as Sales Development Representatives.

Lindsay Varney, Director of Talent at Stitch Fix, explains her approach to using bucket jobs: “I implemented this at Yahoo! and then again at Stitch Fix, particularly for high-volume recruiting. We’ve taken this approach as a way to funnel candidates with similar profiles into one place for screening. This model creates a much cleaner candidate experience by having fewer jobs for candidates to navigate through on the careers page; and it greatly reduces candidate duplication allowing teams to spend more time on value-add activities. We've seen great benefits of this model especially in our abilities to be nimble and screen and move candidates into the right roles.”

How to use Greenhouse to support bucket jobs

If you’re already a Greenhouse customer and you’re hoping to use Greenhouse to roll out bucket jobs, you’re in luck! Here’s how to do just that:

Within Greenhouse, you have the ability to publish a job on your job board as well as to create a job that is not published but still available on the back-end. When creating a job, you’ll select to make it “live internally” or “live externally.” If you’re taking the bucket jobs approach, jobs that are live internally are the actual roles you’re trying to fill and jobs that are live externally are the bucket jobs.

It’s easy to move a candidate from a “live external” published job to a “live internal” one that’s not published. See the screenshot below illustrating how to move a candidate from one role to another.


You can also use Interview Plans to your advantage when taking the bucket job approach. Lindsay says, “With Greenhouse we are able to customize the Interview Plans for bucket jobs to focus only on screening steps; and through reporting we are able to tie together the full recruiting process across the bucket and hire jobs.”

Now it’s your turn!

Have you had any successes or frustrations with bucket jobs? Have any Greenhouse hacks for making bucket jobs even more manageable within the system? I’m curious to hear your experiences. Leave a note in the comments section and let’s continue the conversation!

And for more thought leadership and recruiting tips & tricks from Greenhouse leadership, be sure to read our weekly newsletter, The Modern Recruiter. Simply click below to register!

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Jon Stross

Jon Stross is President and Co-Founder of Greenhouse. At Greenhouse, Jon drives the product strategy and works closely with customers and partners to build a platform that improves recruiting performance. Before founding Greenhouse, Jon served as the GM for and was responsible for the global rollout of the business.

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