5 Dos and Don’ts for Writing an Outstanding Job Description

March 24, 2016

You have a job to fill. And, now you have to write a job description (which you probably don’t want to do). The temptation is just to use a boilerplate one that already ran. It’s easier and safe, and it’ll probably be…fine.

But why settle for fine? Truth is, an average job description will likely entice an average pool of candidates to apply. Meanwhile, a truly outstanding job description will help build a much stronger talent pool.

And, writing a great job description doesn’t have to be painful or take forever.

To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of five dos and don’ts for writing a truly outstanding job description, so you will entice those great people to apply. And, you can also learn more in our 7 Tips for an Irresistible Job Description tipsheet.

Three things you should do when writing a job description:

1. Do define both the job and the ideal person first.

Here’s probably the most important part of writing a job description. Before you craft it, ask yourself – what am I truly looking to achieve with this role? And what would the ideal candidate look like?

Specifically, you should ask yourself these three questions, before ever beginning to source a role. That’ll help you both write the description and, more importantly, hire the right person.

2. Do use a conversational voice when writing your job description.

The tendency in job postings is to use buzzwords and corporate-speak that we’ve all heard countless times. That’s not going to inspire anyone to apply; least of all someone great.

Instead, cut through that and describe what it’s really like to work at your company and what you are looking for in a candidate. If done right, you’ll inspire the right person to apply.

For example, instead of writing “We have a dedicated team,” try something like, “Our engineering team members are hardcore, full-out coders. Because they know what they do every day makes a difference (plus, they love to code).”

Or, when describing the role itself, don’t say you need someone “who has strong communication skills” – that’s impossible to quantify. Instead, write something like “You’ll need to be prepared to put together press conferences within hours after an unexpected event,” which is both more engaging and specific to the true needs of the job.

3. Do show candidates what they can achieve.

Candidates accept jobs offers that give them a stronger career path. Therefore, you have to communicate how your opportunity allows them to grow, develop and make an impact. So don’t be afraid to list the challenges within the job, as that will entice great people to want to join.

For example, instead of writing “lead the business and drive change to meet performance goals,” try:

“You’ll be our social media guru, running our LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages (along with any other you believe are relevant). Our expectations for this position are big – we believe our message is not getting out to the world and we believe social media is a great way to do that. You will receive a budget each month for ads, but we are expecting you to build engaging social campaigns that have real impact on our business needs.”

That’s a real challenge that will entice the right people to want to apply.

Two things you shouldn’t do when writing a job description:

1. Don’t get overly creative with job titles.

An eye-catching job title may seem unique, but it won’t generate more views and applicants. If a candidate doesn’t understand what you’re looking for, they won’t apply. Stick with standard job titles that have common, search-friendly keywords.

So, instead of “head of storytelling” or “numbers czar,” go with “chief marketing officer” and “accountant.”

2. Don’t forget about the mobile experience.

Chances are, you probably will write your job description on a laptop or a desktop computer. But, 30 percent of people will see it on a cellphone or a tablet, and therefore it is critical to ensure your job description is mobile optimized.

Here’s some advice on making your job description more mobile friendly, but here are some two tips to remember: 

  • Avoid large GIFS and images that will cause slow load times, as people are likely to click away before ever seeing the full page.
  • Have people apply via a LinkedIn profile, instead of submitting a resume, so people can easily apply on their phone.

Want more help writing a job description?

We can help. Here’s a seven-step guide to writing a truly irresistible job description, which will tempt the best talent to join your organization. 

*Image from Imgur

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