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How to Write the Perfect Job Description

How to Write the Perfect Job Description

Job descriptions are not the dull, static documents they used to be. And, given the ongoing hiring crunch, the more you stand out, the better off you will be. It is useful to think of high-performing job descriptions like well-built machines. There are a few different gears that need to spin together to reel in the candidates you need.

Below, you will find the do’s, don’ts, stats, and examples you need to write a highly visible job description that tells an irresistible story and provides a great candidate experience. That is what makes the perfect job description.

Boost Visibility with Keywords

Your job description has to play well with search engines so that candidates who are well-suited for your position will actually find it. To do that, you have to choose effective keywords. Your job title functions as a keyword. So, instead of “Rock Star Growth Hacker,” try “Marketing Manager.” Most candidates stick to the basics when typing in their search terms. Use simple and common job titles and save your creativity for your storytelling.

Keywords within the body of the job description also increase visibility. For example, if you are hiring an Office Manager with some executive assistant duties, including “executive assistant” in the text will bring up your listing when people search for those terms. You will find a fuller guide to optimizing job descriptions for search rankings here.

If you work in technical marketing, you might be thinking this seems similar to setting up a sales funnel. It is, and you can learn more about that here.

Write the Right Content

Your job description has 30 seconds to capture candidates’ attention before they decide whether to move on. What they have read during this time should seem like more than just a job. What you are selling (remember, they are not pitching themselves to you yet) is a company whose values they can buy into, a team they would like to work with every day, and a career choice that is right for their experience, skills, and goals.

Do: Pack it full of culture. Show off what is great about your company, such as your transparency, diversity, and amazing employees. Take a cue from Help Scout: Naming and describing a prospective hire’s team members is an easy and effective way to share what it is really like to work with you.

Do: Be specific and realistic about job requirements. You have got to be clear about what is essential versus what is desirable. Candidates will assess their fit based on your job descriptions, so in some cases you might want to say “proficient in X” rather than “minimum five years of experience in X.”

Do: Highlight the impact your candidate can make on the company. A role that is clearly aligned with the company’s business goals will attract ambitious candidates.

Do not: Abuse jargon. More than half of job seekers are turned off by too much jargon and will not apply if they see it. If a term is not readily understood by people who work outside your field, do not use it. Spell out acronyms, do not assume.

Do not: Use biased language. “Digital native,” for example, skews younger, and “ninja” (tech folks, we are looking at you) skews male. Tools like Textio will help you write an unbiased job description that helps you reach the widest possible pool of candidates.

Stuck staring at a blank page? Start with this library of job description templates, then customize them to your needs.

Make It Eye-Catching and Easy to Read

UXswitch created a great breakdown of of their “humanized job description” here. The main takeaway is that we should be laying out job descriptions in the way people like to read:

Perfect Job Description

Design your job description for busy, discerning people by putting the most important information at the top of the page. This includes the company logo, job title, salary information, and benefits.

Long blocks of text are not so skimmable. Short but informative bulleted lists are much better for online and mobile reading. It is worth mentioning the number of people searching for jobs on mobile devices has increased. Today, 77 percent of all job-hunters are searching on mobile devices, so it is a smart move to make your careers page mobile-friendly.

For visual interest, use charts to communicate quantitative information. You can also provide a more compelling glimpse of your corporate culture by embedding photos and videos.

Images via Workable and UXswitch

About Christine Del Castillo

Christine Del Castillo is the community manager at Workable. Workable is affordable hiring software designed for small- to medium-sized businesses. It replaces email and spreadsheets with an applicant tracking system your team will actually enjoy using.

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