Crafting an exceptional job description is complicated now more than ever before. Modern job seekers are looking for more than a job title and a paycheck. Most professionals are interested in having a meaningful career in a field that excites them. They want to work for companies whose mission and culture are aligned with their personal & professional goals. When looking for a new job, they’re tired of the same old boring job details. They want to see compelling job descriptions that appeal to them analytically and emotionally.
Traditionally, we think of job descriptions in terms of their structure. Job title, summary, duties, responsibilities, skills, qualifications. These lists of things have become standard for job descriptions and they all have one thing in common. They’re boring (but still necessary). So how do you write a compelling job description without creating an insurmountable wall of text? Let’s break it down for you.
Why You Should Care
A job description is a tool used to present an open position to a potential candidate. A sloppy job description attracts a substandard candidate. A finely tuned job description can be an instrument for attracting qualified candidates that perfectly match your companies needs. Basically, you’ll get out what you put in.
What Candidates Care About
These are the things you want to think about while you’re writing a job description. If you don’t touch on all of these points, consider rewriting your job description. Aim for a balance between providing adequate information and being concise. Based on a Glassdoor survey, these are the most important factors job seekers consider when applying for a new position.
- Salary & Compensation
- Benefits Packages
- Company Culture
- Vision & Values
- Company Goals
- Company Size
Best Practices for Writing Great Job Descriptions
Align The Position With The Mission
When it comes to vision and values, candidates want to know how the role contributes to your company’s mission. Describe the type of projects candidates will work on and the challenges that the company faces. Detailing how their role will influence the outcome of those challenges helps candidates understand the purpose of the position. Employees with purpose are more driven and happier.
Another good way to convey how the role aligns with the company’s mission is to include videos with the job. This is usually only available for jobs listed on your website. You may find that job boards will soon offer the ability to embed a video in your job listing. So, be prepared with something ready to go.
Go Light On Requirements
It’s easy to fall into the habit of listing requirements. While it’s important to include some requirements, keep this section light. Be selective of what you include. Instead of strict skill-based requirements, think about including character traits that are important for an employee to thrive in the role. Consider including some “preferred” qualifications as to avoid deterring new grads and less experienced candidates who might be perfect for the job.
Keep It Short
Above all else, this is one of the easiest ways to optimize your job description. When a candidate sees a gigantic wall of text, they can’t help but think negative thoughts about the job and your company. Too many requirements, and you’re probably overbearing micromanagers. Too many duties, and you seem like a sweatshop. Too long didn’t read (TL;DR) comes to mind whenever we see long job descriptions. Keep it short and sweet. This can be difficult as you go through our list of best practices for optimizing a job description. The key is to edit down.
Remove non-essential elements until you end up with a short, concise, and engaging job description. Another way to keep your job descriptions brief and punchy is to link to your company’s Glassdoor or Linkedin profile. This allows you to keep your company description to a couple of sentences. According to data collected by Indeed job descriptions between 700 and 2,000 characters perform best.
Keep It Conversational
Another surefire way to turn away prospective candidates is to sound boring and stuffy. Listing off details in a robotic tone is bad. Instead, write in a conversational tone that sounds like the vernacular that people use in your region and industry. Be sure to write in a voice that matches your organization. If your culture is laid back, be cool, man. A little more serious? Clean up your act a bit. Write as if you were speaking to the candidate. Also, please replace all buzzwords with words people actually use in conversation.
If your company is super chill, go the extra mile and replace terms like “ideal candidate” with the word “you”. The reader feels like you’re speaking directly to them. Also, try having some fun with your section headers. Instead of titling the requirements section as “required skills” use something like “you’re good at”. For additional points in readability, utilize bullet points to separate content into bite-sized chunks.
Do Some Research
If you’re unsure about any details of the job or job description, search for competitors similar job listings. Perform a search on Google or Indeed and look at how others are titling their positions and writing their job descriptions. If you’re following this guide, you probably don’t want to copy them too much. Your job description will end up being better. But you can still get good information just by looking at how others are writing their descriptions. Who knows, you might get inspired to be creative.
Format For Mobile
One of the reasons to keep your job descriptions short is because people are looking for jobs on their phones. A lot of text looks way worse on a mobile phone screen than it does on a desktop monitor. Clearly separate your content with headers and use bullet points where possible. Another thing to consider is where your job is posted. If your career site isn’t mobile friendly, fix that. Like, right away. The year is 2019. Everything should be mobile friendly.
Pack It With Personality
Do your best to convey the personality of your company through the job description. Your goal is to get the right candidate. You don’t just want the most qualified or the most experienced. You want the right fit. Adding some personality to your job descriptions will help you accomplish that goal. To do this, describe what a day in that position looks like. Get input from the people who have worked in that role or alongside that role. Discuss the types of challenges and projects the applicant will be working on. Describe how those projects will impact the company. Also, it never hurts to describe the commute, transit options, and work/life balance considerations.
The Structure Of A Job Description
Now that we’ve covered what makes a job description unique and interesting, let’s cover how to spruce up the things that you absolutely must have. Job titles don’t have to be fancy. Your job title should be specific, but don’t make up a title like “code rockstar” in place of “full stack developer”. A good title should precisely and accurately describe the role. Avoid internal lingo that might not resonate with candidates. Terms like “senior” and “junior” are universal. “VI” and “II” are not. Don’t reinvent the wheel.
While it’s good to be creative in the summary of the job description, titles need to be straightforward. Avoid using terms like “hero”, “guru”, and “superstar”. This will allow your listing to be more easily found by job seekers. It will also increase the rate that qualified candidates click on your listing.
While this section needs to accurately describe the expectations of the position, it should also be engaging and capture the attention of the reader. Include a couple of sentences about your company, but don’t go on and on. What makes you unique? What is your culture like? For extra Internet points, include the location of the job to help optimize for search engines.
Roles & Responsibilities
Outline the role, but don’t get too detailed about specific tasks. It’s not necessary to describe each person you report to or how often reports are prepared. That information can be provided in the interview, and it’s rarely relevant to an applicant. Highlight a few activities that are relevant to the day-to-day. Don’t clutter this section up with a huge paragraph. Be concise, and don’t be afraid to paint the role in broad strokes. Be sure to communicate how the position contributes to the success of the organization as a whole.
Skills & Qualifications
Include a list of skills and experience necessary to adequately perform in the role. Separate them into what is absolutely necessary, and what would be nice to have. If a specific education is required, be sure to include it here. This is where you want to make sure to include character traits that are necessary for the candidate to fit into your company. When you’re done writing the list, pare it down. Then do that again. These lists tend to get out of control. Don’t frighten away potentially perfect candidates with a list of impossible standards.
Job Description Examples
We have compiled a number of sample job descriptions for positions we hire for regularly. Since we specialize in staffing for a select number of specific industries and professions, this is somewhat limited. Let us know if you have any questions or if you need assistance finding the perfect candidate for your company. We’d love to help.