How to write a great job description

If you’re looking to attract job seekers to your company, having a great job description is key – after all, you cannot hire top talent without first attracting top talent. A job description is your first opportunity to sell yourself to candidates and make your company stand out from the crowd, so it’s important to get it right. 

As well as the standard description of the role available and its duties, you should include details of your company’s mission and culture to ensure any potential applicant is the right fit. This can be a lot of work for busy hiring managers, but by putting the work in at this early stage, you can save a lot of time for both yourself and prospective candidates further down the line. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some guidance on how to write an eye-catching and effective job description.

Do background research

If you’re unsure about what the job description needs to include, it’s best to speak with those who will be working with the new hire directly: superiors, colleagues, and other direct reports. You want to make sure a new employee will fit in with your team and workplace culture, and if this is an entirely new position within your company, it’s even more important to have these conversations with your co-workers. This will help you understand what responsibilities the new hire will be expected to manage and what your team would expect from them, and improve your chances of hiring (and keeping) a great addition to your company.

You should also take the time to research your industry’s job market more widely to see what your competitors are offering to candidates. This will help you understand important factors such as salary ranges, which can make or break a jobseeker’s interest in working for your company, and give you guidance on how to create your own job advert. Your new employee should be able to fulfill a business need for your company, so this is a great time to draw up a list of must-have skills that both your colleagues and your competitors want a new hire to have in order to achieve this. 

Be specific but concise

When listing the job responsibilities and requirements, give specific information to candidates, as this will help them tailor their applications accordingly and make the process either for both sides. For example, for the duties of a social media manager, something like ‘managing company social media pages’ would be too vague, but ‘weekly content scheduling across all company social media pages (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter)’ is a little more accurate, and gives a potential applicant a better idea of what to expect in terms of the workload. Likewise, any specific technical skills or knowledge should be clearly listed, for example if you need candidates to be proficient in a certain programming language. 

However, job descriptions that are too wordy can turn off job applicants, so aim for a balance between detail and conciseness. According to CIO, you should keep your description of key job duties between five to seven bullet points. This gives candidates a good overall perspective of what the role will involve, and forces you to consider what kind of workload you expect them to handle. If you want to prepare a longer, more detailed document for candidates to refer to, prepare a job specification you can direct them towards.

When you’re putting a job description together, ask for the input of those who will be working with your new hire, so that you can be certain that you are looking for the right candidate who will meet both your team’s and your company’s needs.

Avoid red flag words and phrases

If you don’t choose your words carefully, you can easily drive away otherwise qualified candidates. Words with a masculine connotation such as ‘aggressive’ and ‘ambitious’ can alienate female jobseekers, and vice versa for job descriptions with feminine-associated words such as ‘polite’ and ‘affectionate’. Research from Zip Recruiter has found that using gender-neutral language helps attract a more diverse talent pool that helps fill vacancies faster, so it’s best to use neutral language to limit the chances of any kind of unconscious bias from affecting your hiring decisions. 

Similarly, what may be well-intended turns of phrase can also turn off job seekers. PR Daily has a great list here, which include examples such as describing your team as ‘like a family’, which can imply a lack of boundaries in regards to personal time for many candidates. Of course, you want the successful candidate to be a great cultural fit, but take the time to consider the wording of your job description and if there are any ‘red flags’ that might be hijacking your talent search.

Manage your expectations

Draw up a list of your ‘must-haves’ versus ‘nice to haves’ for your ideal candidate. Again, conversations with your colleagues will be important here, as they will have their own requirements and can help you decide what the most crucial requirements for a new hire would be. Furthermore, consider how strict your person requirements should be – for example, if your company can offer skills training or on-the-job learning, can you take a chance on a candidate who doesn’t quite tick every box or has less experience?

You should also take the time to consider what your company can offer in exchange to your new hire in terms of benefits. Many businesses offer perks such as early-finish Fridays, a flexible working schedule that allows employees to work from home, private health insurance, and more. Very few candidates will want to work for a company that doesn’t offer any kind of benefits beyond a paycheck. By offering certain perks, you can help stand out from your competitors and additionally demonstrate your commitment to a healthy workplace culture that will be sure to attract more applicants to your company.

Need help finding the right candidate for your vacancy? At TalentSpa, we can help you every step of the way. From optimising your job specifications to manually screening candidates for you, we’ll help your company cut down recruitment costs and time. Give us a call on 0203 982 7600 today, or visit our website here for more information!