How to write the best job description ever

You don’t need to be creative to write the best job ad ever. You just need to be clear and concise. Here’s how to avoid typical job description jargonese and write an effective ad that will prompt qualified applicants to apply:

Address your candidates directly in your job descriptions

Use “you” pronouns

Many job descriptions talk about prospective hires as “they.” A job description for copywriters might read: “They will collaborate with the Marketing team.” Switch up your pronouns to be more personal: “You will collaborate with our Marketing team” addresses candidates directly and helps them visualize working with you.

Use “we” pronouns

Use “we” to prompt candidates to feel like a part of your team, rather than just one of your applicants. Simply replace phrases like “ABC Company is a global provider for X systems” with “Here, at ABC Company, we provide our customers with X solutions.

Use active voice

Passive voice in your job ads leaves candidates guessing. “The goal is to ensure our products are designed within quality standards” doesn’t explain who will design the products (e.g. the candidate alone or an entire team?) Instead, “You’ll work with our design team to build products that meet clients’ requirements” provides a clearer picture of the job.

Choose a clear job title

Job titles have a big impact on whether qualified candidates will find, read or apply to your open roles.

An effective job title should be:

Accurate

Job titles are the shortest description of your open positions. Try to make them as true to the role as possible. For example, if the role includes managing a team use the term “Manager” in the title. Similarly, titles like “Chief” or “Executive” imply strategic duties.

Realistic

Use real job titles – not buzzwords. Uncommon job titles not only fail to describe the role, but also make candidates’ eyes roll. Words to avoid include: guru, wizard, ninja and unicorn. Realistic job titles are also more easily searchable by qualified candidates.

Meaningful

Using a string of business words in your job titles might confuse candidates (e.g. the title “Dynamic Markets Administrator” isn’t clear about the job’s duties.) But, a candidate who’s looking for Sales or Marketing positions may know what to expect from a “Business Development Representative” job ad.

Write an honest “About us” blurb

Use this introductory section to hook candidates. You can split it into two sub-sections:

Give candidates important information about your company

Here, describe your company and your work style. Some facts about your company will help candidates get the big picture. It’s a good idea to include brief descriptions of:

  • Your products/services. This is particularly helpful if you’re a small company.
  • Your mission. This is a statement or overview of your values.
  • Your status. This helps explain your hiring need (e.g. if you’re growing your teams due to a recent funding round, or if you’re branching out into a new industry.)

Give candidates some contextual information about the team they will work with

Present the specific department or team of the position you’re advertising for in your job description, so that candidates gain a better understanding of their potential role. For example, mention:

  • Tools and technology. List what kind of technology their team will use. This is particularly important to Engineering candidates.
  • Key clients. Mention well-known companies you collaborate with. Knowing about your top clients is particularly important to Marketing candidates.
  • Latest achievements. Briefly describe your recent successes (e.g. projects, sales wins and campaigns.) This is particularly important to candidates whose teams focus on metrics and results.

Make role responsibilities obvious

Candidates expect to learn the specifics of your open roles from your job descriptions. Here’s how to make this section clear:

Coordinate with hiring managers

Hiring managers‘ input is essential, as they can break down the role into doable, measurable tasks. Either come up with a list of responsibilities together or ask hiring managers to draft a list of job duties and edit the list later to conform with your in-house job ad style.

Avoid generic descriptions

You will be part of our Marketing team” doesn’t add a lot of insightful information to a Marketing Coordinator job description. Instead, opt for something more specific, like “You will set up tracking systems for our online promotional activities using X technology.” Adding these kinds of details will give candidates a better idea of what your open role entails and what skills they need.

Be brief

A long list of responsibilities (e.g. more than 10) sends the message that your company micromanages its employees. Qualified candidates will feel free to take initiative and use their knowledge and skills to meet your expectations.

Cover the basics

As business goals change over time, so will employees’ responsibilities. But that doesn’t mean that you need to list every single task your new employee will be expected to do as their role evolves. Instead, stick to describing core tasks that best reflect the regular, daily workload of the position.

Re-think standard requirement lists

Your “Requirements” section needn’t be a dry list of skills. Instead, you can:

Focus on results

Requirements should describe what people will do (e.g. “Use your knowledge of CRM software to build strong client relationships”) – not just what they possess (e.g. “Certification in CRM tools.”) Applicants who are good on paper may not necessarily succeed in your new role. Likewise, your job ads shouldn’t rule out candidates who may lack some skills or certifications, but could achieve great results.

Cut unnecessary qualifications

Too many requirements are likely to discourage candidates from applying. Consult with hiring managers to determine the minimum required skills and cut those that candidates can learn on-the-job or will rarely use. As a rule of thumb, keep three to five must-have requirements and two or three nice-to-have qualifiers for each role.

Be specific about tasks

Passionate, with an attention to detail and the ability to work in a fast-paced environment” could apply to every role. This phrasing is too generic and doesn’t explain what specific skills will help employees thrive in your company’s open role. Using a phrase like “You should be able to deliver error-free reports on deadline” more clearly communicates the skills you’re looking for.

Opt for job-related skills

Avoid using non job-related criteria that discriminate against certain candidate categories, like their background, personality, age or gender (e.g. “Youthful, energetic salesmen”) Focus on what will make your future hires successful in their new role (e.g. “Experience in designing corporate logos using X or Y software.”)

Highlight meaningful benefits

This is your chance to woo candidates. Motivate them to apply by presenting your benefits and perks. Those can include:

Monetary benefits

Monetary rewards like bonuses and stock option plans that complement employees’ compensation packages appeal to candidates, so place them at the top of your list.

Learning and development opportunities

Entry-level millennials particularly value opportunities to grow within their roles. Promote any employee training programs and educational resources you offer, like access to libraries and industry conferences.

Healthcare and wellness programs

Health insurance is one of the top priorities for employees. And fitness and wellness programs increase employee retention, so mention any health-related perks you offer, like gym memberships or nutritional snacks.

Work-life balance

Offering work from home options and flexible schedules sends the message that your company understands that life doesn’t revolve around work. Candidates appreciate these kinds of benefits, which accommodate different work and productivity styles.

Additional perks

Include perks that make your company unique and showcase your culture. For example, mentioning social gatherings and trips indicates that your organization values team spirit, while noting your well-designed workspaces shows potential employees that you care about their productivity and comfort.

Looking for an all-in-one recruiting solution? Workable can improve candidate sourcing, interviewing and applicant tracking for a streamlined hiring process. Sign up for our 15-day free trial today.

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Christina Pavlou

Christina is a writer at Workable, previously a recruiter. She writes about diversity in the workplace and reports on the shape of things to come. She tweets @ChristinaPaulou.

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