Writing a public job description is possibly one of the most taxing recruitment marketing challenges. After all, it takes jobseekers only 60 seconds to evaluate a job description and determine if they want to apply for the job.
That means that in the space of roughly 700 words and one minute’s time, you need to not only capture the attention of and entice people capable of doing the job, you also have to find a balance between detailing the job responsibilities and outlining why both the role and the company itself are alluring.
Here are 50 writing tips to help you hurdle this challenge and turn out the kind of job descriptions that can attract stronger, higher quality candidates.
Prep for Success
1) Research first – write second. Before you put pen to paper, look through similar job descriptions on the web to get a feel for what can differentiate your job description from the pack.
2) Remember that you are marketing an opportunity and not a cog in a wheel. You want to project a challenge so that the person who is attracted to that challenge and opportunity will apply.
3) Gather all rich media content (videos, complimentary articles, images) that is relevant to the company culture, employer brand, department and role. You’ve heard it since preschool: show and tell.
4) Validate primary job responsibilities. Get insight from key stakeholders about which duties are the most important and which are simply nice-to-haves.
5) Know your budget. The allocated amount for this role and the experience/skills you include in the job description should align. You don’t want to write a senior-level job description when an entry-level budget is on the table.
6) Keep an honest job title; only get creative with a job title if you have a darn good reason. Use real-life titles that are specific and concise.
7) Titles should be appealing yet appropriate. Include specific skills or niche roles, where relevant. For example, if you are looking for someone to solve your Salesforce integration, it’s appropriate to use “Salesforce Integration Specialist” instead of just “Integration Specialist.”
8) When it comes to abbreviations, consider usage before posting. For example, in the field you’re hiring for, is it more common for the title to read “VP job title” or “job title VP” or “Vice President job title” or “job title Vice President.” A quick Google search can reveal which of the titles has a higher search volume.
9) Think about including SEO keywords but avoid keyword stuffing. Inclusion of keywords in a job title increases candidate views by 116 percent.
10) Job summaries are typically written in paragraph form (no bullets) with the intent of giving the jobseeker a general overview of how the role functions.
11) Don’t make the job summary too detailed; save the nitty-gritty for the job responsibilities section.
12) Consider using second person (you, your, etc.) to create a connection with the person reading the job description. This enables the jobseeker to visualize themselves performing the job and helps prompt them to apply.
13) Write like a marketer. You are trying to make the reader imagine themselves dedicating much of their waking hours to your opportunity. Sell them on the position; this is your chance to make your role stand out.
14) Highlight the type of decisions the worker will be making and with whom they will work with and report to. Reporting to someone higher up in the company can be a great selling point.
15) Spell out some of the core deliverables and explain how these contribute to the success of the business.
16) Where appropriate, include links to content (written, video, audio) that showcase the department, team, or even role.
17) Reference business-critical or exciting projects on which the new hire will work.
18) As many job candidates now rank work passion as a top work requirement, including how the role fits into the broader scheme of things is important.
19) Language should be action-oriented, and use bullets for ongoing tasks, with duties listed according to level of importance
Skills & Qualifications
20) Create a list of skills and categorize them into two subsections: required and preferred.
21) Order them in terms of importance and place them in a bulleted list. If there is a job description review team involved, have them look over the two skill lists and approve the order you’ve come up with.
22) Don’t demand an unreasonably high minimum years of experience.
23) Preferred skills may include additional education and certification, industry experience, or a specific skill (e.g., language, language fluency, product fluency).
24) Don’t overuse abbreviations and acronyms that make this section difficult to read or understand. If you must use them, stick with the simple ones.
25) Align the company description with the marketing team’s company description. If you don’t have a formal recruitment marketing ‘About’ paragraph, start with the company mission statement or public relations boiler plate.
26) Include video if possible. This will increase candidate engagement.
27) Mentioning core products and solutions, customers, and industries served will paint a better picture of your business’s relevance.
28) Pound your company’s chest by sneaking in some boastful numbers about your company’s business value and progress.
29) Don’t forget aspects of company culture and solutions that make the company culture what it is. Seventy-two percent of candidates indicate that an organization’s reputation as an employer has a significant impact on their decision to apply for and accept a position.
30) Definitely mention compelling perks across the company. Also consider mentioning awards the company has received for innovation, excellence in management, etc.
31) Since work-life balance is an increasingly important factor for workers, you need to ensure that the job description makes it clear where the position is based and what kind of workplace flexibility policy is in place.
32) Consider including a salary range on your job posting. Although there’s a tendency to exclude this, jobseekers are more likely to apply to a position that has this listed.
Job Posting Structural Tips
33) Keep the logo of your company on the page and make it ‘sticky’, so that as the jobseeker scrolls down the page, the logo is still visible.
34) Don’t forget to put a page title, meta description, and title tags in your individual job postings on your website. These will make a big search engine optimization (SEO) difference.
35) Think about creating custom URL for the job description on your website. For example, /customer-service-specialist is a far better URL than /28776879. This will boost your SEO results.
36) Don’t forget to include your company’s social media channels somewhere in the post. And with those links, make sure they open a new tab instead of causing the reader to leave the job posting.
37) Also consider adding a link to additional opportunities at your company, i.e. many readers are more interested in your company than the role, give them a path to your careers page to find a better role for them.
38) If possible, always include a thank you page and/or send confirmation email after a candidate submits an application. A follow-up to the application is a non-negotiable.
39) Leverage screening questions to help weed out unqualified or poor candidates.
40) Include clear application instructions. You want candidates to know exactly how to apply and what to include in their application.
41) Make sure your career page is mobile friendly. Forty-five percent of Americans have used their mobile device to search for a job.
Job Description Best Practices
42) Use proper grammar and punctuation so your posting will be easy to understand, and have a member of your team proofread your document prior to posting.
43) Bullet points can be your friend, but make sure you don’t include too many of them.
44) Time spent writing should be measured in hours and not minutes. Astonishingly, 34 percent of companies average less than an hour writing a job description.
45) Write for the candidate. Job descriptions should be written for jobseekers and not employees, HR, or even the job itself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say again, the job posting’s job is to sell the opportunity and convert the reader.
46) Use subheadings to break up the job description to make it more readable.
47) Understand the difference between primary responsibilities and those that are secondary. The same goes for the list of requirements—minimum skills, experience, and education.
48) Don’t overuse the word “strategic” or useless business jargon, such as “TPS Report.”
49) It goes without saying, but double check that you are avoiding discriminatory language, i.e. any implications about not wanting people from protected groups (i.e., members of a certain race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, age (over 40), disability, or veteran status).
50) Now that you’ve written the whole thing, check for buzzwords to eliminate. Here are words to avoid, according to the AARP: Best-in-breed, Best-in-class, Bottom line-oriented, Client-focused, Creative thinker, Cutting edge, Detail-oriented, Driven professional, Dynamic, Entrepreneurial, Evangelist, Extensive experience, Fast-paced, Go-to person, Goal oriented, Guru, Highly skilled, Innovative, Motivated Multitasker, Out-of-the-box, Perfectionist, Proactive, Problem solver, Proven track record, Quality-driven, Quick learner, Results-oriented, Road warrior, Seasoned professional, Self-starter, Skill set, Strategic thinker, Strong work ethic, Team player, Tiger team, Trustworthy, Value add (added), Works well under pressure, Works well with others.
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