How to write a job description that attracts the right candidates

Writing a job description

Have you done everything on your checklist to hire the best candidate, but the right fit is still not anywhere in sight? Could writing an effective job description do the trick? Let’s find out.

Why is writing a good job description important?

A job description can often be the first impression that your company makes on a new candidate. So, not showing attention to detail can deter your chances of being noticed by the right candidates. Moreover, a good job description sets clear expectations regarding the job, which cuts down on hiring time and prevents any conflicts later. 

Now that we know the importance of a job description, let’s discuss how to write a job description.

What not to do while writing a job description?

The recipe for a poorly written job description consists of the following steps:

1. Using difficult words – Have you ever read a job description multiple times and still struggled to understand it? This often happens due to the use of difficult words that can be easily replaced by simpler alternatives. 

A job search can be an exhausting affair for most candidates, so unnecessary obstacles like this can dissuade them from applying. It can also lead to confusion about what the job entails, which can waste employer efforts. 

2. Not formatting properly While resumes with grammatical and punctuation errors are considered a cardinal sin for candidates, most employers tend to get away with not putting in any effort to format the job description. This can show negligence on your part and hurt your employer’s brand.

3. Using unfamiliar job titles – Imagine a scenario where two companies are hiring for a marketing director. While one of them uses the term ‘Marketing Director’, the other decides to spice things up a bit by using the title ‘Wizard of Light Bulb Moments’. The second title will receive lesser applications because time-pressed applicants may not even go through the job description. Additionally, the search engines may not show your job post to relevant candidates because it would have a hard time connecting the dots!

4. Using biased language – This can look like a red flag to numerous candidates, especially millennials who want to work in companies that value diversity and inclusivity. Biased language can include giving preference to the masculine pronoun ‘he’ over ‘she’ or ‘they’. It can also include using job titles such as ‘Salesman’ instead of ‘Salesperson’.

5. Competing with Santa’s list while writing qualifications and responsibilities – It can be disheartening for job seekers to scan a job description and find an unrealistic amount of experience or responsibilities. You can lose out on a lot of potential employees if you don’t remove skills that can be learned on the job.

6. Writing in a negative tone – ‘Candidates with less than 5 years of experience will not be considered.’ Sounds familiar? This can lead to your company being perceived as rude or unfriendly. You could replace it with a positive construction such as:

As this is a senior role, you should have 5 years of experience.

How to write a job description?

A good job description should be between 700 – 2000 words so that it covers enough information about the job. Here are a few pointers to help you get started: 

1. Keep the language simple Avoid using any jargon that the description does not need so that the candidate can spend the saved time on writing the application! For example, it’s commonplace to read the word ‘liaise’, which could simply be written as ‘work alongside’.

Another way to simplify includes using active voice wherever possible.

2. Specify the responsibilities Describe all the responsibilities in the role concisely. For example, the job description for the post of a Software Engineer at GitHub:

Source: GitHub

While writing the job description, you should consult the employee who holds the role or who has held the role in the past. If it’s a new role, reach out to professionals already working in that industry and ask what they work on. 

3. Give details about day-to-day tasks Make sure that you have a concrete idea of what the role entails. Break down the tasks in a typical day into a neat list rather than writing a paragraph. 

Avoid being vague and specify the tasks. For example, if you are hiring for an HR role, don’t write a generic description like the following one:

You will help with the hiring process.

Instead, get into the nitty-gritty and mention how. For example:

You will shortlist job applications based on the guidelines provided to you.

4. Don’t list all the skills/qualifications under one category – Divide the skills section into must-have and nice to have skills. This will help more candidates get over the discomfort of not applying because they believe that they do not meet all the requirements.

For example, Slack, a software company, lists these additional requirements as ‘Bonus Points’:

Source: Slack

5. Show what’s in it for the candidate – Don’t make the job description all about you! Mention what the company can do for the selected hires. For example, your company offers learning and development opportunities. Or, perhaps you provide health insurance, flexible work hours, employee discounts, free meals, a good amount of paid time off, etc. If you’ve got it, flaunt it!

6. Include company description – A job description could be your first introduction to a job seeker. So, briefly describe the work that your company does and the work style it follows. You could also describe what the department they are applying for does within the company. This will help the candidates picture the impact their work will have.

7. Include culture values – Surely you have a work culture that you are proud of? Now’s the time to flaunt it! Besides listing your values, you can include any awards, team diary, or workplace videos. More and more candidates are looking for companies that match their values, so this could help you stand out.

8. Mention the compensation – According to a LinkedIn survey, compensation is the most important part of a job description for candidates. Although various companies refrain from mentioning the salary, this could help you save time. It can save you the hassle of going through the entire recruitment process only to learn later that you are not on the same page about the compensation. 

9. Write the exact job location – This is a tiny detail that should not be missed on as it will increase the visibility of your job description.

Now that you know how to write a job description, are you ready to hire the best fit for your team? Then, you could register and post your job on Internshala Fresher Jobs.

Image credits – GitHub, Slack

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