If you’re a small business owner or HR manager, your primary goal when you conduct a round of hires is to attract applicants that are good fits for your open positions. Outside of personal contacts and networking, job postings represent your primary way of attracting applicants. This means you need to focus on writing job descriptions that sell!
Why the Job Description Matters Most
Whether you realize it or not, the job descriptions you release for openings at your firm are one of the most important factors for attracting the right talent. Here are three of the reasons why carefully crafted job descriptions matter so much:
Increases accuracy – A great job description ensures the right people apply for the job. You’re much less likely to get an array of under-qualified or confused applicants. For the most part, the people who apply will be candidates that clearly understand the position and are at least minimally qualified for it, if you’ve published a solid description of the post.
Avoids a lack of interested responses – A good job description gets potential applicants excited. It ensures qualified and interested people don’t get the wrong impression about the position and decide it’s something they wouldn’t be interested in. An accurate and well-crafted description tells them exactly what the job is and encourages them to apply.
Reduces questions – Finally, a good job description removes ambiguity and eliminates repetitive questions. It can greatly diminish unnecessary communications and enables you to focus on reviewing promising applications and resumes, not answering basic questions about the job.
Nine Essential Tips for Writing Better Job Descriptions
With those goals — increasing accuracy, preventing a lack of interest, and reducing the number of questions — let’s take a look at nine ways you can write better job descriptions.
Focus on a Descriptive Title
The title is the first thing a job-seeker will see, so you should spend some time developing a descriptive yet accurate heading. Avoid using vague or over-flowery job titles; instead, home in on accurate descriptors.
For example, instead of saying “Store Manager,” use something along the lines of “Part-Time Store Manager for XYZ Location.”
Clearly Outline Duties
This is where you can either hit the proverbial nail on the head or completely miss out. The key responsibilities and duties should be comprehensive and succinct.
Begin each duty with an action verb (present-tense) and mention how frequently the duty will be conducted (hourly, daily, weekly, quarterly, etc.). A good example would be: “Research new B2B marketing trends and develop a weekly report.”
Generally speaking, this part of the job description should contain anywhere between five and ten key responsibilities.
Explain the Chain of Command
One thing that’s commonly left out, but applicants usually want to know, is the chain of command; which gives them a sense of reporting lines and working relationships. Who will they report to and who will work beneath them?
This is particularly informative for higher-level positions, because some seasoned professionals reach a point where they prefer not to have a complex chain of command above them. If you briefly indicate where the position ranks in the overall organizational structure, you will help potential candidates see where they would fit in.
List all Educational and Career Requirements
If you have hard-and-fast requirements for the position in terms of education or skills, make sure they’re clearly listed. You can eliminate a lot of unqualified applications by being explicit about this up front.
Furthermore, be open about the competencies and traits you expect the candidate to display once he or she occupies the particular job. These may include functions such as teamwork, leadership, or willingness to adapt.
Use Very Specific Language
Dancing around the issues or disguising the role with fancy descriptors does nobody any favors. You should use very specific and straightforward language to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Sentences should be constructed using as few words as possible, without leaving out critical facts. Terminology should be industry-specific, but not limiting or restrictive.
You should also avoid using vague adjectives or adverbs that are wide open to interpretation. Some examples would be “complex,” “some,” “several,” and “occasional.”
Incorporate Bullet Points
Job descriptions should be easily digestible and effortless to skim and scan. By incorporating bullet points, you can break up large chunks of text and help the reader navigate the material better. It’s a simple trick, but one that can greatly enhance your visibility.
Mention a Salary Range
Many companies are hesitant to discuss salary in their job descriptions (or even during the interview process). It becomes an elephant in the room that’s obvious to everyone.
But what’s the purpose of not discussing money? After all, candidates apply for the purpose of earning a salary. By putting it off until after a job offer, you’re setting yourself up for unnecessary challenges and hurdles.
Don’t be afraid to mention a salary range (the keyword is “range”; you don’t have to get too specific). It removes ambiguity and discourages overqualified people from applying.
Preferred Form of Contact
In order to reduce unnecessary communications with candidates, clearly mention your preferred form of contact, how applications should be submitted, and when applicants can expect to hear back.
The latter is especially important. If you don’t provide a timeline, you can end up fielding dozens of calls and emails before, during, and after the process.
Show Some Personality
Finally, don’t be afraid to indicate your company’s character a bit in your job description. Not everything has to be cut and dry.
Communicate a little flavor and let candidates know exactly who you are. In the end, your goal is to attract the right people, so don’t sugarcoat concerns or avoid relevant issues.
Applications are only valuable if the candidates behind them are good fits for your business.
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