52% of job-seekers say that job description quality matters. It’s all the more important to write good job descriptions to stand out from the many terrible and mediocre job descriptions on job boards. However, this is easier said than done (as the writers of those terrible job descriptions would attest). Fortunately, we at Pypa have made a handy guide on how to write a good job description, from the title of the job description to diversity and inclusion initiatives, making sure you get the best start to your recruitment process:
The first thing job-seekers will see (and what they will search for) is your title. Your title has to be stellar, but that doesn’t mean it should be filled with hyperbole like “rockstar” or “ninja”. (Not only do these words sound silly, but they also are bad for DEI (Diversity Equity Inclusion) as they tend to discourage women from applying). Likewise, a title that misdescribes the position will give you the wrong candidate.
So, how do you write a good job description title? Be accurate: Ask yourself “What is the job?” and describe it (making sure you include the most searched keywords). Remember you can put a small amount of flair (especially if it shows off your employer brand persona) in the description itself.
A good job description should be simple and well written (to ensure good candidate experience). What does this mean?
Bullet points are easier to read than long paragraphs.
A badly structured job description is hard to read, so brainstorm what you are going to say beforehand. If your job description is particularly long, consider using subheadings.
You need to make sure your job description is good copy, but that doesn’t mean getting carried away with metaphors and hyperbole.
Jargon will put off some candidates, especially career change candidates.
Anything you write needs to contain relevant keywords for SEO, so that your job shows up at the top of candidates’ searches.
Your job description should contain the tasks that a successful candidate will be responsible for on a day-to-day basis. Describe specific tasks, not just vague responsibilities, so that the candidates can figure out if this is a job suited to their talents. Remember to mention if the role involves managerial responsibilities.
If you’re unsure of exactly what the role involves (or even if you aren’t), sit down with someone at your company who has a similar role (such as the future hire’s manager) and ask them about what tasks the new employee will have to perform.
The job requirements and qualifications are another must-have part of the job description. The key here is to not specify too many requirements. This is because going overboard with requirements disadvantages women and people of color who are less likely to have specific qualifications or work experience.
Look over the job and think “What are the requirements?” and particularly whether you need a degree for the position. Requiring a certain number of years of experience is also potentially discriminatory, as well as freezing out younger talent.
Focus on soft skills as opposed to just hard skills, to give marginalized candidates more of a chance as well as those who are changing their career (wild-card candidates can be an asset).
Essential job description information that sometimes gets forgotten is the hours and location of a job. This is really important information and appreciated by candidates, who will have to factor the hours and location into whether they take a job.
A salary range is usually left out of job descriptions—70% of candidates never see a salary in job descriptions—even though candidates like to see salary ranges. Obviously, some companies do this because their salary range isn’t competitive, but if your salary is competitive (which it should be), then this won’t matter.
You should also include benefits in job descriptions, because advertising your benefits is a great way to attract top talent. Benefits you should mention include healthcare, paid time off, flexibility around start times, and work from home, as well as smaller things like having a pet-friendly office. Basically, if you have benefits, show them off.
A novel but useful addition to your job descriptions is a section explaining who your hire will be working with, which, like describing the tasks in detail, helps candidates visualize a day in the job. Introduce their potential coworkers and immediate manager (for extra meaning have these people write their own introductions) and explain what projects they’ll be working on together.
Talking about your company in the job description is a must. This shouldn’t just be basic information about the company though; the job description is a great place to talk about your company culture and how your workplace is a great place to work. As mentioned above, talking about perks like having a dog friendly-office shows off your strong employer brand.
Speak in the voice of your company (i.e. in your employer brand persona) to stand out from the crowd (but make sure your brand persona won’t make certain groups less likely to apply).
It’s important your job description makes it clear how applicants should apply (i.e. on the job board, your website etc.). If applicants need to apply on your website, be sure to include a link (which is easy to generate in Pypa Hire).
We’ve already talked about DEI, but there are a few more things you can do to make sure your job description attracts diverse talent. As mentioned above, using gendered language is a problem in writing job descriptions, but this can easily be fixed, either by using good judgment or a tool like Textio.
If you’re careful with this, not overdoing your requirements and making sure your job posting is accessible to screenwriters, you should be fine for DEI for this part of the recruitment process.
Writing good job descriptions will transform your hiring process and attract top talent. While it seems complicated, all you need to do is follow this series of tips—from ditching the purple prose, to including salary and benefits, to highlighting your positive company culture and employer brand. Need more help figuring out hiring?—Register for the Pypa Hire beta today!
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