When you decide it is time to make your next hire, it is important that you write a compelling job description to attract the top candidates to apply. The purpose of a good job description is to reach the best candidates, share the job responsibilities and general expectations, and also to highlight the benefits and core values of working for your company. As a recruitment agency we’ve worked with both companies looking for the ideal candidate as well as job seekers and have seen the best and worst of job descriptions. Here are our top tips for writing an effective job description to attract top talent.
1. Use a Clear and Concise Job Title
Job titles should be clear and accurate. Remember almost 50% of applications come from job boards (i.e. LinkedIn, Indeed, etc.) therefore you need to make the title searchable. Avoid using company jargon as potential candidates will not know what it means. For example, if your internal title for a Senior Manager is a Level 2 Manager, stick with Senior Manager in the job ad. Also, avoid buzz works like Rockstar, Unicorn, or Ninja. No one is searching for those terms and they come off pretty cheesy and could be a turn-off to applicants.
On the other hand, you can be specific with your job title. Though you will want to keep it between 5 and 80 characters be specific when it makes sense. If you are searching for a Java Developer, don’t title the job simply Developer, call it Java Developer. Using relevant descriptive words will help to weed out unqualified candidates.
2. Use Keywords
When writing a job description, think about what prospective candidates may be searching for. Brainstorm words, phrases, abbreviations, and locations that are relevant to your open job. You can also use a keyword research tool to help you uncover keywords to target. Make sure your main keywords are sprinkled throughout the job posting, but not overused. Search engines do not like “keyword stuffing” either.
Industry jargon is okay to use. For example, you can use RN instead of Registered Nurse as those candidates would be likely to search the term RN. This is where you will need to do your research through a tool or even by surfing through job boards to see what keywords your competition is using to attract talent too.
3. Don’t Make Job Descriptions Too Long
You will need to find the balance of being thorough in the description and highlighting all the perks and key responsibilities, but also not so long that you can’t keep the candidate’s attention before they even apply. It is recommended to keep job descriptions around 500-600 words (about 4,000-5,000 characters).
4. Sell the Job to Prospective Hires
While potential candidates obviously need to meet the requirements for the job, do not forget that you also need to sell them on why they should want to work for you. If job searchers are sifting through tons of similar roles, make yours stand out by highlighting what you can do for them. Brainstorm employee benefits or perks of the specific job that would be enticing and set you apart from competitors. Examples could include “100% paid for health insurance” or “clear path to move into a director role within 5 years”. Be as specific as possible. Using the same example, “great health insurance” or “growth potential” is not going to set you apart near as much as the more specific version.
5. Address Candidates Directly
When writing job descriptions, use “we” and “you” pronouns. When talking about company culture, always use “we” for example “we pride ourselves on our inclusive culture”. Additionally, when going through the job duties, use phrases like “you will work across teams to…” instead of “they will work across teams to…”. This language will make it feel like you are addressing potential hires directly and that they are part of the team already.
6. Be Transparent
Not only is it best practice to include a salary range in job descriptions, but in many states it’s now a legal requirement. Regardless, being up front about salary, job locations, hours, and in-office vs. remote requirements is important. The more up front you can be about these topics, the better chance you have at attracting the right people for the job. If you know this person will need to be in the office 100% of the time, there is no point to wasting anyone’s time trying to recruit candidates that want to be fully remote.
7. Clear Job Requirements
Make sure your list of requirements are clear, concise, and realistic. Write the requirements in order from most important to least important, highlighting the ‘must-haves’ at the top. You can also have a grouping of ‘preferred requirements’ as well to show what is important, but you may have some flexibility on.
We also recommend cutting out some of the fluff when it comes to requirements. Almost every job advertisement has soft skills listed such as strong communication skills, attention to detail, etc. Unless those skills are particularly important for your open job for a specific reason, then leave them out. It’s not to say soft skills are not important, they are actually incredibly important in the interview process. However, you are not going to weed out candidates that are not a match out based on soft skills. You will have a better chance at attracting the right talent by listing specific skills and requirements including years of experience, managerial experience, experiences with XYZ software, etc.
We hope these 7 tips for writing a great job description will help you in you in filling your open roles with great candidates. If you are in need of additional assistance with filling your job openings, feel free to reach out to us and we can see if we can be the best partner to help!