6 Steps to Writing a Job Description that Attracts the Best Candidates
Writing a job description is easy. But writing a job description that attracts the right candidates is not. The goal is to find the right candidate to apply to your job posting, and then quickly get them interviewed and hired to start right away.
But how can you accomplish this goal? Think about the important details that follow along with a job description. It must go beyond, “Need individual with tech expertise.” Otherwise, you’ll get a variety to people, with a myriad of technical skills and still not find the specific technical expertise you’re looking to hire.
The key to writing an accurate job description is to be specific. This will help you weed out unwanted candidates. Plus, you’ll need to factor in other information to help round out the overall skills required to perform the job correctly.
Follow these 6 steps to start writing better job descriptions and attracting the best talent.
Step 1: Know exactly the candidate you’re looking for
Carefully review what’s needed for the job. What exactly does the job require? Take in these possible points:
- What tasks are involved?
- What’s the overall responsibility of the position and its purpose to the company?
- How does this job work in tandem with other jobs?
- What are the exact qualifications/skills needed to complete the job?
Answer these questions with information pertinent to the job needs. Before you begin writing the job description, meet with the supervisor or hiring manager to find out exactly what they’re looking for and to understand the complete scope of the job and the specific skills a qualified candidate will possess. Once you have a complete and accurate picture of the job and its requirements, you’re ready to craft a job description that clearly defines the responsibilities and qualifications of the role.
Step 2: Discover the pros and cons of the job
After you have the answers about the scope of the job from internal sources, do some research on what people say about doing the job. Start by looking at how your competition’s employees talk about the job on review sites like Glassdoor and others. You can also look outside your industry to see what the same position looks like in other markets, and what employees say about their satisfaction with the role. Find and read as many detailed reviews from candidates about the position you’re hoping to fill as you can find.
Doing a little research will give you a lot of insight about what employees and potential applicants consider the pros and cons of the position. You’ll also get a clearer picture about future pitfalls and the complaints employees have about the job.
Watch for key phrases which may help you avoid a high rate of employee churn and improve retention, including:
- No advancement
- Little flexibility
- Poor location
- Too much overtime required
Talk with current employees or take a survey, and find out what they love most about the job. Get the positives from them to include those in your job description. Instead of simply accepting that the position in a dead-end job, start working with the people in that department to work on ways to improve the negative aspects of the role. Find out how to help this job scale better, improve flexibility, or reduce the amount of required overtime, if any.
Step 3: Give applicants a challenge
Essentially, the idea of a well-written job description is to dissuade less-than-qualified applicants and to spend your time evaluating and comparing qualified applicants. You don’t want to insult anyone in the process, but if you follow best practices, you will naturally attract the attention of the right candidate and reduce the number of unqualified applications.
For instance, let’s say you’re looking for a medical sales representative, but you don’t want just any Joe that comes in the door. To avoid this, refrain from being so general. Instead, specify what sort of sales rep you need, such as: “Medical Sales Representative with over $1.5M in annual sales.”
Giving specific details, such as the number of sales completed in a year immediately shrinks your overall candidate pool to the caliber of applicant you want. Tailor your job description with specific information and achievements that takes into account the information you retrieved from the questions and research you conducted in steps 1 and 2.
Step 4: Avoid company jargon
Company jargon is the common language that people use within all business to quickly come to a mutual understanding. However, company-specific language should never be used in the job description. If your goal is to clearly and concisely communicate the job requirements and to describe the type of candidate you’re looking for, using company jargon with applicants will only add confusion and work in opposition to your goal. In addition, using internally understood terms can come across to candidates as arrogant or exaggerated. Often exaggerated corporate lingo is meaningless to anyone outside of the organization, and it says little about what you’re hoping to accomplish.
A few common business jargon phrases that shouldn’t be used are:
- S.W.A.T. Team – A group of expert business women and men used to solve the hardest problems
- Flavor of the Month – Latest business trend
- Marinate – To think on an idea privately before acting on it
- Xerox – To copy something
- Drinking the Kool-Aid – To accept something blindly (This phrase is terribly referenced to the Jonestown Massacre, which makes it even less appealing.)
While some jargon will likely be learned over time once you’ve hired the right person, avoid scaring away qualified candidates using this sort of phrasing in your job description.
Step 5: An engaging job description
The content of the job description is most important, but the formatting should also be taken into consideration. These days, most job descriptions are now online and can be found on social media platforms. Moreover, the attention span of most online readers is very short and it’s unlikely most people will take the time to read through multiple paragraphs—even for a job description.
After a brief introduction of the job, use bullet points that cover the key aspects of the job. Aim for about ten bullets of important info, and highlight or bold any information that is critically important, such as key skills needed or desired abilities.
Formatting your job description with a short introductory paragraph and bullet pointed job requirements serves your needs and your applicants. Not only does this type of formatting make the job description easier for you to write, it also makes it easier for applicants to quickly review the listing and decide if they want to apply. Brief, to-the-point wording helps get your point across quickly and attract better, more qualified candidates.
Step 6: Include some company information
Help your job description to weed out more unwanted candidates and attract those who will fit your workplace culture by providing information about what it’s like to work for your company. Be sure to use a link to route back to a company career page where candidates can find additional information about your company and what it’s like to be employed there.
A popular method to attract the best applicants is to create a short video about your company and your culture. Online video is one of the hottest content delivery trends right now, and it can help boost the overall impression of your company.
Take the time to know what and who you’re looking for and follow these 6 steps to create job descriptions that will attract qualified candidates faster, reduce employee turn-over, create a positive workplace culture, improve the employer brand, and ultimately lower recruiting and hiring costs.