How to Write Better Job Descriptions

Encourage top-notch applicants by accurately describing the position for which you’re hiring


The success of
your business is often in the hands of your employees. Two-thirds of U.S. companies have been affected by a bad hire, resulting in lost revenue and productivity, according to the website CareerBuilder.com. Avoid making a mistake by taking the time to write a good job description.

“Job descriptions are the foundation of the hiring process, and they set expectations for new hires,” says Brandi Britton, district president of the staffing firm OfficeTeam, which specializes in placing administrative professionals. “If you fail to accurately describe an open position, you could wind up interviewing applicants who are underqualified because you didn’t provide the right information.”

Accurate and compelling job descriptions attract great talent. Here are seven key components every job description should include.

1. A clear job title

It’s fun to get creative with job titles. Calling salespeople “customer service ninjas,” for example, might reflect your culture. But if candidates don’t understand the title, they probably won’t continue to read. Instead, use job titles that are searchable and self-explanatory, and save the original titles for after the hire.

2. A list of duties

Be thoughtful when creating a list of the duties required for the job, Britton says. “Summarize the position’s overarching role within the organization and how it relates to jobs and departments in the company,” she says. “Then, describe the day-to-day tasks of the position in order of priority.”

James Matero, owner of Jaymark Jewelers in Cold Spring, N.Y., likes to include downtime tasks. “This way I can make sure anyone who applies isn’t afraid of working their entire shift.”

3. Qualifications

Describe your ideal candidate by including the traits, abilities, and experience you seek. Don’t forget to include the soft skills that help a person succeed in the job, such as working well on a team or creative problem solving, Britton says.

Matero likes to bolster the minimum requirements: “You will always get underqualified applicants, but by increasing the minimums, you will get more that fit the actual requirements.”

4. What you offer the candidate

Let candidates know why your company is a great place to work. Share your mission, vision, and values. Give details on the benefits and advantages you provide your employees. Describe the culture and the team the candidate would join. And consider including past successes and industry accolades.

“Attracting a great team means really illustrating your work culture well,” says Slisha Kankariya, cofounder of Four Mine, an online jewelry retailer specializing in engagement rings and wedding bands. “Show in your job description what the goals of the company are and how this new team member can come into the picture and bring in success with their unique skill set. This is the first step in getting team members motivated and excited about your company vision.”

5. Opportunities for advancement

Forty-four percent of people who switch jobs said they accepted their new job because it offered a stronger career path, according to LinkedIn’s 2017 Global Recruiting Trends report. Mention advancement or training opportunities in your description so candidates know there’s room to grow with your company.

6. Gender-neutral language

Pronouns and adjectives can unintentionally deter or exclude candidates. Action words that promote competition, such as strong and ambitious, have been shown to attract more male applicants, while words that promote inclusiveness, like nurture and concerned, attract more female candidates, according to job search site ZipRecruiter.com. Find a balance by avoiding language that suggests competitiveness or belonging. Limit your use of adjectives, or make an effort to combine masculine and feminine words in the same ad.

7. A call to action

End your job description by telling potential applicants exactly what to do next. Include the email address and/or phone number of the hiring manager and what the candidate can expect from the application process.

Did you know?

Don’t be too wordy or too brief! Job descriptions with 700 to 1,100 words have a 24 percent increase in the application rate.

(Source: Indeed)

(Illustration by Cozy Tomato)


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