Below are the 11 most important rules hiring teams and recruiters should follow when they sit down to write a job description.
1. Pick the right title for a job description
Want qualified candidates to find your job description? Use the right title. While hiring teams often use trial and error to pick the right title there are a few hard and fast rules you should follow:
- Be concise: 4-6 words is perfect.
- Describe the area of responsibility: “Email Marketing Manager” performs better than just “Marketing Manager,” “Python Software Engineer” does better than “Staff Engineer.”
- Consider how candidates search: Candidates are more likely to search for “Graphic designer” than “Brand Designer.”
- Remove internal jargons and acronyms: Candidates are unlikely to know what “Level 3” means.
- Be clear about seniority: “Senior Software Engineer” for a job that requires one year of experience is likely to confuse candidates.
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2. Talk about your company
Skip the boilerplate language on a job description and dive right into what makes your company special. Talk about your mission, your passions, even how your teams work. Candidates want to know they’ll be a part of something special so use this space to sell your uniqueness. This section should not be long, a small paragraph will do.
3. Talk about the job
Before you list requirements, take a few sentences to talk about the job. Tell candidates who they’ll work with and which departments they will report into. Don’t be afraid to talk about the kinds of skills they’ll develop on the job or even where they might see themselves in a year or two.
4. Talk about the goals
Instead of including a bunch of bullet points that talk about specific tasks or responsibilities, can you reframe the position instead to speak about the goals of the role and what the candidate will do to help your teams accomplish them? What will you be working on over the next three months? The next six? How will candidates contribute meaningfully to the bigger picture?
5. Be specific about technical requirements
Every candidate will have his or her own strengths so when you describe technical requirements like “Excel” avoid fuzzy language like “great at” or “knows” to describe a candidate’s competency. Often the way you describe these skills can present a real barrier for candidates when deciding to apply or not. For example, “knows Photoshop” can mean several kinds of things including, “great at retouching,” “great at image production,” or “great at building web layouts.” Instead, be mindful of the confidence gap and say “Use Photoshop to crop and resize images for our CMS.”
Are you ready to write your perfect job description? Before you do, remember that every job has a sweet spot when it comes to the length of its job description. In a nutshell, junior jobs can have shorter ones, senior jobs can have longer ones.
Junior and senior roles don’t have the same responsibilities or requirements. All things being equal, your job descriptions for senior roles will naturally be longer. That’s okay. Senior candidates often expect that.
Use the chart on the left as guidance for each section’s word count. Here are some of the things you should include:
- Required skills
- Preferred Skills
6. Delete cliche requirements
Want more qualified candidates to apply? Remove skills and requirements that are obviously cliched from your job description. For example “accomplished problem-solving skills,” “excellent communicator both written and verbal,” “strong analytic skills.” Cliche skills add no value but can create a real barrier for candidates when they apply.
7. Add preferred qualifications
Want to broaden your talent pool a bit? Move a few of your requirements to a preferred section to help candidates who are mostly qualified feel confident enough to apply. Preferred qualification sections are a great way to adjust your job description as candidates begin applying.
8. Talk about perks in your job description
Even poorly written perks improve the quality of your candidate pool so don’t be afraid to include them. Choose a few benefits that reflect your organization and include them towards the end of your job description. 401k, unlimited vacation, and great healthcare all do great. Mental health, parental leave, and commuter benefits often improve candidate pool diversity.
9. Add a thoughtful inclusion statement
Whether you’re required to or not, a well-crafted inclusion statement on a job description can go a long way in improving your candidate pool diversity. Avoid boilerplate language and instead, opt to make it your own. Talk about how your organization is committed to representative hiring.
10. Keep your job description short
Regardless of seniority or job type, overly long job descriptions can derail the hiring effort. It’s better to keep things concise by sticking to only what’s necessary and skipping what’s not. In other words, don’t add filler (e.g., soft skills) to beef up your job descriptions. An augmented writing platform can help here.
11. Go easy on your culture
You have an entire interview process to ensure someone is a good culture fit so use your job description to market broadly to candidates. Avoid content like jokes or sports metaphors that are not broadly understood.
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