How to Write a Great Job Description
By Mira McKee ● November 24, 2020 at 11:07 AM
Job postings are often the first impression you get to make with a job seeker. A misplaced comma or lack of salary mentioned could be the reason that a qualified candidate decides not to apply. With more and more job seekers and job posters looking to find each other than ever before, it has become crucial to learn to optimize your job postings and place a major focus on your job descriptions. Follow these Talroo-approved best practices to knock your postings out of the park and get the right applicants every time.
Why are Job Descriptions Important?
Effective job postings are essential to a good hiring strategy. If you’re not conveying the job well, you might get very few applicants. If you don’t accurately reflect the skills needed to thrive in the role, you might get a swarm of underqualified ones. It’s important to strike a balance between attractive and accurate, creative and concise. We’ll show you how.
Just to prove how important nailing a job posting is, here’s some of what a good job description and posting can do for you:
- Attract the right candidates – Job titles that match what seekers are looking for paired with descriptions that emphasize the company values and benefits are more like to attract more candidates who want to stick around through the application process.
- Simplify a seeker’s search – People looking for work are often on multiple job boards and search engines trying to figure out what’s best for them. A concise job posting that conveys exactly what you want and what you offer makes it easier for a job seeker to compare your offering to others, reducing your overall time spent hiring.
- Make your interview process easier – This is a little down the line from the initial job posting date, but it’s important to consider. By writing a clear job description, you’ll have an easier time gauging whether or not someone is qualified by knowing what to ask them. And, in that same vein, they’ll know what to prepare for!
How to Optimize Your Job Descriptions
Though job titles are what make candidates click, descriptions are what make them stay. When attempting to craft one, first and foremost, remember that they are a two-way street. A strong job description conveys to your ideal candidates what you expect from a worker, but also what you can provide to one.
A job description should generally read as follows: a little about the company, a little about the role, some specifics about the job (and what it would take to get it), and why someone would want it. They typically sit around 500-700 words (or 5,000-6,000 characters).
Elements of a good job description are:
- Company Summary and/or Mission
- Role Summary
- Must-Have Skills and/or Education Requirements
- Recommended Skills
- Benefits/Why You Should Apply
- Additional Details
Starting with the company summary, you should take a few sentences (most postings stick with 3-5) to talk about who you are and what you do. Dive into some of your goals as a company, both specific to your industry and broad to your deeper missions. Take this opportunity to really boil down what your organization does at its core and why people enjoy working there.
When writing this, think about the type of candidates that you want and what they’d be attracted to. If you work with big clients like Amazon or Target, and that’s attractive to your target candidate audience, let them know. If you’re a flexible company with transparent management, talk about it! This isn’t the place for explaining your entire company’s history and 1805 founding, but rather for playing to your strengths and showing what it’s like to work for you today.
Next, you’ll want to jump into the role itself. What are you hiring for? Who do they report to? Why is filling this position necessary for the success of your company? Take a few sentences (or a few bullet points) to describe what an ideal candidate would do and accomplish for you. Explain to a future employee what you’ll expect of them as well as who they’ll work with to get it done.
As you might have guessed, this is a must-have section. Laying out the skills that you require for a position will further outline what’s expected of an applicant. By setting good expectations, you’ll deter under-qualified seekers from applying and ensure a higher quality applicant pool. Like most pieces of a job description, it’s helpful to be specific here. Consider setting an experience or education requirement (like “3-4 years customer service experience” instead of “strong customer service background”) to encourage only candidates of your intended skill level to apply.
The ‘Recommended Skills’ section, however, is absolutely up to you. While it can help you further explain what you’re looking for in a candidate and encourage the most qualified ones to apply, it’s a really easy way to veer toward too long. Also, even though you’re pretty clearly distinguishing here that these skills are recommended and not required, not meeting all of your bullet points may be a reason that some people, especially women, don’t hit apply.
Benefits and Perks
The perks of working for you should be communicated throughout your job posting but it doesn’t hurt to have a bulleted section dedicated to doing that. When people are job hunting, they’re always comparing your description to something: either other job postings, or their current gig. With that in mind, be sure to put care into communicating why it is worth their time to apply. Besides expressing your common benefits—insurance packages, retirement plans, etc.—share and emphasize the unique perks that your company culture offers (especially if you mentioned it in the job title). No weekends, free lunches, and encouraging ongoing training are some examples of what you could highlight in this list.
Last-but-not-least: Additional Details
Finish out your job description with any other details that a candidate could be wondering about. Location, hours, compensation, travel requirements, and exemption status are some of the factors you can mention (especially if you haven’t in the job title or company summary). You don’t want to lose any potential applicants because you left out a small detail!
Other Factors to Consider When Creating a Job Posting
Some other things to keep in mind while writing a great job description as part of a great job posting are: utilizing good formatting, expressing your core values, and nailing the length.
Formatting Job Descriptions
The formatting of a job post is more important than most employers might expect. Factors like length and readability contribute to how much time candidates spend looking at a job posting and how many of them will decide to apply. Strategic use of headers, bullet points, and bolding is a great way to make your job posting easy to interact with and ensure a positive candidate experience. Just like in blog posts or email newsletters, blocks of text can turn readers off, so make sure to utilize good formatting and nice spacing techniques to easily guide a candidate’s eye.
Keeping Your Core Values in Mind
Another thing to be thinking about while writing the best job description you can is taking the opportunity to speak to your company’s core values. These values can be expressly written, included in your company overview, or even reflected in the overall tone. Whatever tone you choose to write your posting in, from fun and conversational to passionate and driven or even serious and straight-to-the-point, will convey a little bit about who you are and what it’s like to work for you. Remember to write to your target candidate audience and the type of worker you’re looking for.
Ideal Application Length
Multiple studies have shown that the longer your applications are, the less likely people are to apply. While you can optimize everything from your job title to description, if your application process is too lengthy, you may be setting yourself up to lose quality applicants. While writing out the above sections, consider which sentences and bullets are most essential to understanding the position, and keep it at that. Then, design the rest of the application to be short and user-friendly enough that it respects the applicant’s time and continues the great candidate experience you have already worked so hard to create.
Where These Guidelines Will Get You
The most important piece of any job posting is getting into the mind of a job seeker. What terms would they be searching for? Would they rather know all of the ins and outs of a job or just the highlights? Is it more important to provide 20 of the skills you recommend or 5 of the benefits that your company provides? Thinking like your candidate – like you’d normally try to think like your customer – is instrumental in understanding where they’re coming from and reaching applicants who want to be hired.
Topics: Posting Jobs
Updated December 8, 2020