A Guide to Writing Better Job Descriptions

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Talent market is competitive and hiring strong candidates is hard. It’s even more of an uphill climb for tech hiring – there are more than a million developers jobs open on the internet at any given time. How will you make yours stand out and attract the right candidates?

Better job descriptions attract better talent

Job descriptions are like advertisements of your opportunity to potential candidates. Apart from providing pertinent information about the job, they also represent your organization’s brand and message.

As Talent Board reported, 77% of candidates say that job description content is where they make their decision.

When potential applicants look at your job description they are simply trying to answer two questions for themselves:

  1. Can I do this job?
  2. Do I want to?

Your objective is to create a job description that provides all the relevant information to the applicants that enables them answer the aforementioned questions.

A great job description page can make a big difference to your voice as an employer. Here’s how:

  • Employer Brand Consistency. Any external communication by your organization affects how people perceive your brand. In that regard, JDs are arguably the most influential reflection of your brand as an employer. A solid job description will attract more valuable candidates, reduce your hiring lifecycles & eventually result in better overall productivity.
  • Positive Candidate Experience. Candidates assess and judge every single word of your job description – often unconsciously. To a candidate, it serves two purpose: help her decide whether to pursue the job opportunity, and secondly it gives a glimpse of company’s reputation and culture.
  • Smart Recruitment Spend. Optimising the performance and conversion of your job description has a direct impact in your cost-per-hire.

Before jumping to jot down the outline of your job description, there are two important questions you must answer:

  1. Who are you trying to attract?
  2. What do they need to know before they apply?

Even the trivial-seeming stuff like word choice and sentence length have a serious impact on how well your job description presents to candidates. Here are some pointers to enable you write job descriptions that lands positively with applicants:

Start with an appropriate and interesting job title.

In a competitive and constantly changing job market, candidates aren’t attracted to confining or standard job titles. To recruit future hires who are creative and out-of-the-box thinkers, consider providing them with an out-of-the-box job title.

Identify performance standards

Before you begin to create or revise a job requisition, ask the hiring manager one very important question: “How will this person be evaluated at the end of six months or at the end of a year?” Keep this information in the forefront when writing your job requisition.

When you determine performance objectives up front, everyone involved in the hiring process knows exactly what is expected of a new hire, which saves time not only during the interview process, but also when it comes to choosing qualified candidates. And when the successful candidate accepts the position, the performance objectives serve as a guide for the person to achieve success. They are also the foundation for the candidate’s annual performance review and compensation increase considerations.

Convey daily responsibilities day-to-day responsibilities, expectations, and standards of performance of the position and provide a sense of how this role fits within the department, team, and company.

Define required credentials and experience 

Use your performance standards as a guide to define the credentials and experience required, but be careful not to be too restrictive when screening out candidates. If you find a candidate performing in a similar job but with less experience than you require, you don’t want to screen them out—they may be a peak performer.

Share your company culture, mission, and values

For many prospective hires, company culture, mission, and values are almost as important as compensation. Candidates want to work somewhere where they are comfortable not only with the job, but with the people, mission, and core values. Candidates pick up on aspects of company culture in a variety of ways.

Check for bias

Remember that most bias is unconscious or ‘implicit’ but it can have dramatic impact on the hiring outcomes. Read this detailed guide on how to get rid of unconscious bias in your job postings. Proofread your content by checking for bias in your writing. For instance, let’s consider gender bias. To attract more gender diversity in your candidate pipeline for your jobs, check for overly used masculine words in your job descriptions and replace them with more inclusive ones. Some fixes are easy:

  • instead of ‘strong’, you could use ‘proven’, ‘sound’, ‘solid’
  • ‘lead’ can be substituted by ‘run’, ‘manage’, ‘grow’
  • ‘competitive’ can be substituted by ‘attractive’, ‘fair’
  • ‘aggressive’ can be substituted by ‘proactive’, ‘firm’, ‘energetic’
  • Exclusionary words.

Putting it all together

When updated regularly and written with the needs of both the company and the candidate in mind, your job requisition should serve as a strategic marketing tool that will not only attract the best talent but will save you time in the interview process.

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