The first step to attracting great applicants and successfully hiring employees is crafting a great job description. That seems simple enough. But, in reality, a job description has to do some pretty heavy lifting. It needs to be functional, enticing and succinct all at the same time. And it has to be those things in a small amount of space.
As much as a job description is a nuts-and-bolts rundown of a role and its associated duties, it also is a marketing tool that should communicate the culture and values of your company, making the case for why it would be a great place to work. Finally, the skills and qualifications you include in the description serve to paint a picture of who your ideal candidate is and who should be applying for the job.
With those job description goals in mind, here are four tips for creating effective job descriptions.
Consult Internal Perspectives
If you don’t have first-hand knowledge about the role for which you’re writing a job description, talk to the people who do – the person who was in the role previously (if available), peer collaborators, the team lead. Ask them what attributes are most important for success in the position. Use the input you receive to create a targeted list of core competencies your ideal candidate will have. In the job description, focus on those fundamental qualifications and avoid including a lengthy list of “nice-to-haves,” which can turn off some talented candidates and hinder your recruitment effort.
Write in a Way That Speaks Directly to the Candidate
Whether it’s an employers’ market or a candidate's’ market, the best talent is always in demand. Grab the attention of prospective applicants by speaking directly to them, using the second-person point of view. Using “you” in your description is a powerful way to make a connection with candidates and get them to start envisioning themselves working for your organization. Also, don’t be afraid to be conversational (while still being professional, of course) – remember, the way you write your job description can say as much about your company culture as the actual content of the description. Get specific. Avoid jargon. Take on the friendly, enthusiastic voice of a recruiter who is excited to be pitching a great opportunity.
Start Big Picture, Then Narrow Down
While your job description doesn’t have to include absolutely everything about the job and company, it’s important to find the right balance between enough information and too much. Finding the right balance helps candidates determine if they’re a good fit for the role – and the company – before applying. Start with general, high-level information about the role and company, so you can weed out anyone who isn’t right right fit before they dive into more specific information about the role. Here are our suggestion sections to include, in order.
- Job title and location, department, full or part time, company name
- Company Overview: 2-3 sentence description of your industry and company culture
- Role Overview: 2-3 sentence description of your ideal candidate
- Tasks: Bulleted list of the 10-12 core tasks
- Required Skills & Experience: Bulleted list of your ideal skills, training or education
- Reporting Structure: Who the position reports to and/or oversees
- Salary range
A well-written job ad needs to do more than just translate the role in a vibrant way – it also needs to get found in the sea of competing posts. Think about what your ideal candidate will be searching for online and include those keywords in your post. So if you're looking for a Marketing Manager, use that term (and not something like Marketing Jedi).
Before you get started on your next job posting, read our Real Cost of Hiring Worksheet. This will help you calculate the time and cost of advertising a position, screening a candidate and managing an internal recruiting process so you can choose the right course of action to fill your open position without breaking the bank.