How to Write Great Job Descriptions That Attract Good Candidates

Whether you are regularly hiring or just looking to fill a specific position, finding the right fit is critical. No matter the role, you want to identify that perfect candidate as fast as possible. Understanding what you’re looking for, right down to the letter, is essential.

Job descriptions are a sales pitch from an employer to potential candidates. They must be descriptive enough to grab a candidate’s attention and interesting enough to hold it. Most businesses are not Google or Apple, with thousands of possible applicants hunting their careers pages daily. Below are some tips for writing excellent job descriptions.

Forget Buzzwords

Words like “ninja” and “rock star” are obsolete. They don’t make you appear hip or cool; they make job seekers’ eyes roll. At one time, these terms made job descriptions stand out from the pack. Now, they have become tired cliches.

Think of the job search process from a candidate’s perspective. Serious prospects aren’t searching for terms like “social media maven” or “data guru.” They are searching for “social media specialist” or “data scientist.” So, when writing job descriptions, try to home in on keywords your target candidates are searching. Try to make your job descriptions as direct and specific as possible, using long-tail keywords.

Set Practical Expectations

When writing a job description, always have someone who has already worked in that role vet it. If it’s a new position, get advice from people outside your organization who work in similar positions to ensure that what you are looking for is realistic.

Professionals with similar experience in the position you’re hiring for will help you set practical expectations and figure out what qualifications are fundamental requirements, what are nice-to-haves and what are unnecessary or unrealistic.

Provide Details

You don’t want your job description to include every possible skill, but you should make it as detailed as possible. The “sweet spot” for job descriptions is between 700-2,000 words. Below is a simple outline:

  1. Describe the job’s day-to-day responsibilities, including a breakdown of the tasks by percentage.
  2. Provide candidates with a vision of how the role functions within the organization.
  3. Provide information on who the hire will be in regular contact with—i.e., supervisors, customers, or colleagues from other departments.
  4. Detail the preferred years of experience. Be cautious with this one, particularly in tech or with mid-career changers. Good candidates may have a solid foundation of training but only a little experience in the field.
  5. Give an honest salary range. The gap between a candidate’s requirements and what your company can offer can be way off the mark. Make sure that you provide the correct information so that you will only review candidates who will be satisfied earning what you can afford to pay them. Posting a salary range will also reduce your time negotiating.
  6. Highlight what makes your organization unique. You may have an employee volunteer program, a cafeteria serving delicious food, a shuttle service between the office and the train station or an unusually high retention rate. Address what makes you distinctive, as candidates aren’t looking for ordinary experiences.
  7. The job title also needs to reflect the details. Rather than “communications coordinator,” how about “digital communications coordinator,” “editorial communications coordinator,” or “communications and events coordinator?” The more precise the title is, the better candidates will understand what to expect, leading to more self-selecting applicants and a higher quality pool of candidates.
Concentrate On Where You’re Going (Not Where You’ve Been)

Your organization may have a notable history and, as a result, some great brand recognition. That’s wonderful, but remember, candidates did not work for your company back then. Candidates want to know impending plans for the company because if they get the job, they are the ones who will help shape and execute these plans. No matter what business you are in, candidates want to know about the opportunities ahead.

Ask What You Can Do for Them

Certainly, candidates need to know how they will serve your company; that will encourage them to find your opening in the first place. However, you must figure out what will make them take the next leap to apply. The answer is by emphasizing how you can serve them.

Do you offer equity, stock options, flexible hours, telecommuting, childcare assistance or paid parental leave? Shout these benefits from the rooftops, don’t keep them under wraps. Applicants need to understand how a new job will benefit their work and lives.

Communicating your unique perks in your job descriptions will have the extra benefit of strengthening your employer brand. If job seekers know that you have a lot to offer, they will start to keep an eye out for openings at your company, even if you’re a small business that isn’t widely known.

Creating a good job description is a mixture of art and science. By injecting some personality, you will convey what makes your organization distinctive. Still, there are specific conventions you must follow.

To provide a great job description, first set realistic expectations, then research keywords, provide an abundance of details, communicate your company’s plans and highlight how your company helps benefit employees’ lives. You will then swim in a consistent pool of awesome candidates.

Contact our expert team at ALIGN for support and guidance on writing the perfect job description.

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