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Candidate Help & Advice

6 Tips for Writing Effective Job Descriptions

hipster-typing-636x237Writing an effective job description isn’t exactly rocket science, but there are some key things to keep in mind for maximum effectiveness. After all, your overarching goal is to attract high quality candidates and avoid those who need not apply. This can only happen if your job description is approached with the right attention and consideration.

So let’s make it happen! Here are 6 simple tips to help your job descriptions attract better-fit applicants, faster.

Include the basics

Too often, in the rush to post a job, vital elements are simply overlooked. At the very least, make sure to have the following:

  • Job title
  • Location
  • Description and Responsibilities
  • Requirements
  • Next steps to apply

Be convincing

You might think that this is the right job for relevant candidates, but will they? Remember, applicants are likely looking at several possibilities. In turn, use this opportunity to really sell them. Promote your company’s employer brand and paint a picture of why this is the best choice. List recent company awards and accomplishments. Detail unique or attractive perks and benefits. And include links to Glassdoor if the company is well-rated by employees. Whatever ammo you’ve got, make sure to make the case.

Mirror the company’s style

The style and tone of your description can easily convey what the job or company is like. Perhaps you’re writing a description for a job at a fun, cutting-edge marketing agency. Consider making things colorful and exciting: “If you’re ready to turn some heads and change the world, look no further.” Conversely, if this is for a financial advisor position at a global investment firm, don’t worry so much about the flare: “Come build a profitable book of business with one of the world’s fastest growing finance companies.”

Don’t be scary

Job descriptions often include an embellished list of requirements. This can dissuade quality candidates from applying. Of course you want to weed some people out, but don’t overdo it. For instance, is “5+ years experience” an honest prerequisite? If a stellar candidate otherwise has 4 years of experience, will they fail to make the cut?  If not, don’t list “5+ years experience” as a minimum. Be authentic in what you truly require of a candidate. Remember, you can always include a separate list of “preferred” qualifications if necessary.

Think like a search engine

So far, we’ve discussed the human element of an effective job description. However, don’t forget that many candidates will find your opening by virtue of various online job boards and careers sites. These usually incorporate search engine logic. In this sense, think like a search engine. This includes making the job title easily searchable. For instance, if it’s a tech job, avoid a title like “Coding Superstar.” Instead, use what search engines (and most people) will look for, like “Software Engineer,” “Web Developer” etc.

You can of course get a little more colorful in the body of your description. That said, every word in your job description feeds into search logic. So make sure to incorporate relevant keywords. In the example above, you might include words like “HTML,” “CSS,” “UI/UX,” “JAVA,” etc. in the description, as applicable.

Standardize the process

When it comes to effective job descriptions, consistency is key. Once you are confident in the content and formatting decisions of any single job description, use it as a blueprint for your future postings. Keeping in mind every element listed above, standardize your own process. Use your own template or any number of free templates provided online. This will ensure that you continue including essential information and depict your employer brand uniformly each and every time.

Read more on this subject via my colleague, Alison Hadden’s recent post, 10 Tips For Writing Job Descriptions That Work.