6 Traits of Great Job Descriptions

Have you ever read (and reread) a job description several times, only to find yourself struggling to understand what exactly the organization is asking for and what the position requires? How about reading a job description, and finding out through the initial pre-screen or in-person interview that there is a lack of alignment between the job/organization and what was originally portrayed? This is quite common, and can lead to a lot of wasted time for both candidates and recruiters.

If you want to attract the right talent, it’s important to craft and deliver an attractive and targeted job description that will hook candidates and help them clearly understand the role. Failing to do so will not only turn the right candidates off from applying, but also send the wrong candidates down your talent pipeline.

In the most basic form, a job description should always include the following sections:

  1. Company description: Included here are details about logistics, company history, benefits, culture, and values
  2. Role objective: A brief overview of the role and main objectives
  3. Roles and responsibilities: Detailed examples of what this person can expect to do on a daily basis
  4. Experience: A (realistic) wish list of what experiences and skills this person should bring to the table

Digging deeper into each of these sections, there are some clear traits that will always attract the best candidates. Let’s explore the top 5!

1. Captivating language and creativity: A good job description should use language that mirrors the organization and shows its personality, says Alexandra Doroshenko, Recruiter. While there are great sites like Workable that can provide templates, it’s your duty to breathe life into the description. Your language should be clear and demonstrate the realistic demands of the position. While it may be tempting to insert as much corporate jargon as possible, this likely won’t help the candidate understand what you’re all about.

The language should help tell your organization’s story and hook your candidate throughout each section!

2. Transparent benefits and culture: Eighty-two percent of those surveyed agree that benefits and culture are a huge part of what makes an organization competitive in today’s job market. Candidates should be able to quickly understand your values, get a feel for your culture, and have clear insights into some company benefits. It should be noted, that these should be realistic! For example, if your description boasts a lively 5-7 happy hour every day, but the candidate learns that this is not the case and people are working until midnight, they will quickly lose your trust and pull themselves from the process.

3. Well defined roles and responsibilities: The best job descriptions are the ones that include real-time examples of work you’re actually doing. Include a list of projects and teams the candidate will be working with to make it as realistic as possible, says Frances Wilk, Head of Talent Acquisition at Breather. Tasks should be detailed, and clearly depict what the person will be doing on the day-to-day. The job tasks should also be realistic. While it’s important to sell the opportunity, hiring someone for an administrative position but leading them to believe they will be managing an entire corporate strategy will likely lead to retention problems within the company.

[Related: How to Recruit the Informed Candidate]

4. Hit them with the headlines: People’s attention spans are shrinking ( some even argue it’s the same length of that of a goldfish!) and it’s all too easy to get distracted by emails and ads. While you must cover all the essentials, it’s important not to drag a job description out as you will lose people’s attention. By keeping your messaging targeted, you’ll attract the right people, rather than candidates who are blindly applying.

5. Don’t forget to sell them on the opportunity: It’s important to be transparent about the realities of the job. It’s also crucial to share positive information about the culture, successes of the organization, and interesting partners they work with. Highlight their growth opportunity and help them see what this job can offer in terms of development. People want to be successful and work for a company that portrays that too, says Doroshanko.

[Related: How SMBs Use Glassdoor to Recruit]

6. Design for inclusivity: Diverse teams outperform non-diverse teams by 35%. Not only is diversity the socially preferable way to operate, but the business case can no longer be ignored. Instead of creating a job description to attract “people like us”, design to attract people who might help you expand and diversify your team. Think about the words you use, as subconsciously biased language might stop people from considering applying. Using more neutral wording can help open up your candidate pool by 42% and as a result, increase your time to fill rate!

When a candidate makes the decision to join your organization, it’s your duty to be forthright about what they can expect coming to work each day. The more transparent you are from the beginning, the more success you’ll have down the line!

 

Stacy Pollack is a Learning Specialist with an MA in educational technology. She is passionate about building leadership programs that engage and contribute to the success of her organization. She loves to share her perspective on job hunting, career building, and networking for success. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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