You might not expect it, but the job description is one of the most important parts of the entire hiring process. Sometimes overlooked in favour of focusing on interviews or other segments of a hiring process, the job description is the first major piece in the puzzle for applicants looking for their dream role. The right job description helps both recruiters and applicants: it helps candidates decide whether this is a role that suits them, and it helps HR by streamlining the application process and filtering out those who would be better suited in another position.
So how do you craft an effective job description? This article takes you through the steps of writing a job description that attracts the perfect candidate.
Choose appropriate job title
Job titles that contain terms “ninja”, “guru” or a “rockstar” might reflect better your relaxed company culture and flat hierarchy but will fail to attract the best candidates. Most people will not type these keywords when they search for a job. They will use more common job titles, such as Account Manager, Marketing Manager, etc. because these titles make it easier for a job seeker to understand what the job is about. Because of this, your job will show less frequently on search engines and job boards and will fail to reach a wider audience.
Choose inclusive words and limit buzzwords
Women are 38% less likely to apply for a role that contains a word “guru”. Study after study has found that using masculine words in your job descriptions will decrease chances of women applying. Also avoid using superlatives and words like “world class”, “best of the class” and similar as these words will put of variety of candidates especially minorities and women, but also men who are not comfortable bragging about their own skills and abilities.
Also beware of using too many buzzwords in your job description. Words that don’t say much, like potential for growth, are best avoided in favour of adjectives that are more unique to the job you’re sharing.
Focus on what is necessary
Consider whether the requirements of your job description are realistic. It’s a good idea to use wording like “good to have” or “is considered a plus” as opposed to “must have” or “mandatory ”. Think which skills a candidate will truly use every day. Are you looking for a candidate fluent in both French and German because he\she will be using these languages every day or because you want a “unicorn” flexible to cater two markets if needed? This ensures that your company doesn’t miss out on highly qualified candidates who otherwise wouldn’t apply because they think they don’t tick every single box.
Give a 360 perspective on the job
Remember, a great job description is a two-way street. You’re not just finding someone to fit the empty role, you’re also helping candidates work out if they’d be happy working in your company in this position. Don’t just focus on the requirements for the role - make sure you’re also convincing candidates reading the posting that you’re a great company to work for.
Focus on the benefits you provide, such as extended holiday or flexibility regarding work schedule or remote working. If your office location is of note, make sure you include that information as well. As people focus more and more on work-life balance, this information could make the difference in finding the perfect candidate for the role. You’re not just choosing candidates: you also want them to choose you!
Get your company culture across
In some cases, your job posting, and job description will be the first interaction candidates have with your company. This means that it’s a perfect opportunity to get your company culture across. Consider using storytelling to make your job description more vivid, and help it stand out amongst other - sometimes dull! - vacancies. You could also choose to convert paragraph titles into questions, such as “what’s your role about?” instead of “job responsibilities”. This helps to liven up the description and show the candidate that your company isn’t a stereotypical, somewhat stiff corporate. If you’re a startup with a very informal company culture, you could consider adding humour to your job description, but always keep it professional.
Keep it mobile-friendly
It’s likely that job hunters are scrolling through open positions on their phone, rather than their desktop computers. With this in mind, ensure that your job description is optimised for mobile, and is easy to read. Too much text can be off-putting, so to ensure potential applicants read the posting, make it as skimmable as possible. The use of different sections and bullet points can help with this, as well as ensuring the overall length of the job description is not too long.
Include a deadline for applications
This serves two purposes: it gives candidates the incentive to apply quickly, and it also helps them have an idea of when they’ll hear back from the companies they’ve applied to. Open-ended applications can sometimes give the impression that the process will drag on, but those looking for a job quickly will be more enthusiastic about applying for a vacancy if they know when they can expect feedback. Similarly, if you have the information available, consider sharing when you expect the candidate to start. This can help sift out the candidates who wouldn’t be able to take the job should they be offered it, saving both the company and themselves time and effort.
Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of the unassuming job description. Treat it like you would any other form of company communications, and make sure everything is checked for spelling and grammar. It’s also a good idea to get feedback from colleagues to ensure that key information is communicated in a clear, concise way.
Although other parts of the hiring process may be more exciting, the job description is the first thing that your future employee will read before applying to work with you, so it’s worth putting some extra time and energy into getting it right.
But before puting online your job ad, you should first identify what your hiring needs are. We have created a check list of all the things you need to consider before you start looking for a perfect team member.