February 11, 2021

Best Practices for Writing the Perfect Job Descriptions

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Tags: HR Recruiting

Writing a job description seems like it should be an easy task, but a poorly-worded description can scare off quality candidates and keep you from hiring the right person. Job descriptions that are too short can be hard for candidates to find because they often don’t include keywords job seekers search for, and they won’t accurately represent the open role. On the other hand, postings that are too long might give off the impression that the company is disorganized.

So, how do you write the perfect job description? We’ve put a list of best practices for writing job descriptions, so you can start attracting the right candidates.

Table of contents

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Use the right job title

Copywriters and content writers do the same thing, right? Not quite. What about project managers and project coordinators? Nope. Even though jobs can sound similar, they have different functions, responsibilities, and experience levels.

When posting your job, make sure you’re using the right title to capture the attention of the right candidates. If you’re looking for a more experienced candidate, choose words like “manager” or “director”. For entry-level jobs, “associate” is usually a safe bet. If you’re not sure which title you should use, look up other job descriptions and the titles they use. If the job functions sound similar, you’re probably on the right track.

Start with an overview

Few things are as frustrating for a job seeker as reading all the way through a long job description only to realize it’s not the right fit. Adding a short overview of the job functions and requirements at the top of the description can quickly let searchers decide whether or not it’s worth their time to keep reading. This should also help you cut down on the number of unqualified applicants you have to weed through to find the perfect candidate.

Within the overview, consider adding a call to action. Something like “join our hard-working team” or simply “apply today” can give job descriptions an invitational feel and increase the likelihood of viewers applying.

Include relevant keywords

Job board sites work similarly to search engines, so you need to make sure your job posting includes relevant keywords. While eye-catching titles are great, if they don’t include the job title, your post will probably never show up for the right candidates. Additionally, many job seekers that want to work from home will add “remote” to their search. If that’s something you offer, make sure you include it in the description or title.

Just like you may not know what job title to use, searchers, especially those entering the job market for the first time, may not know what title to search for. Because of this, they may simply search for the skills or experience they possess. For example, they may search social media jobs, which would usually include jobs with social media in the title or something like a marketing coordinator where social media is one of the responsibilities.

Add all responsibilities for the role

Not only do job descriptions need to contain the right keywords to ensure they’re easily found on job listing sites, but they also need to comprehensively list all of the duties and responsibilities the role will entail. According to a 2019 Jobvite study, only 47 percent of employees feel that their job descriptions accurately reflected the responsibilities of their job. Everyone is asked to do things outside of their job description from time to time, but if something is going to be a regular part of the job, you need to include it in the description.

Also read: 5 Ways HR Can Learn from Project Management

Highlight company culture

Company culture isn’t only about fun group outings or free beer. While those can be an added bonus for job seekers, what they really want to know is how your company communicates with employees and what your core values are. Adding your company’s core values to the job description can not only highlight your culture to job seekers, but it can also help candidates feel connected to the company if they share some of the same values. Having strong common values can help improve employee morale and engagement because everyone is working towards the same goal.

Other culture pieces you might want to highlight are learning and growth opportunities and unique benefits. Just don’t lie in the job description. Don’t tell applicants your company has a great work-life balance if you expect them to be on call all the time. New hires will figure it out pretty quickly, and they may warn others away from applying to the company.

Exclude superfluous language

Words like “superfluous” and “rockstar” don’t actually mean anything to job seekers and may actually dissuade them from applying for your open roles. Many job seekers, especially women, won’t apply for jobs they don’t feel confident that they’re qualified for, so if you include language that doesn’t make sense or they won’t understand, you could miss out on amazing candidates.

Stick to the facts. You don’t want a rockstar; you want someone who is hard-working and enthusiastic. Tell job seekers exactly what you want. It’ll weed out some of the people who can’t or won’t do what you’re asking and keep good candidates interested because they’ll know what you’re looking for.

To find the best candidates for your open roles, you need to be able to write solid job descriptions. Double-check your job titles, add overviews, and include relevant keywords to attract the right people. Highlight the culture to attract people who will fit in well and be enthusiastic about working with your company.

For help finding the right candidates for your open roles, use our Recruitment Product Selection Tool to choose recruiting software. Answer a few questions and get customized recommendations.

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