August 2nd, 2021

10 Tips to Write Better Job Descriptions

Locating qualified employees is a top challenge for small businesses — second only to the cost of healthcare. While there are a variety of strategies to attract top talent, one easy way to do so is to write better job descriptions.

The Importance of Job Descriptions

Job descriptions are usually the first step in the recruitment funnel where candidates become aware of your company. As a result, they’re critical to get right. But over the past few years, Jobvite reports less than 10% of career site visitors click and apply. While some of this is due to the job application process itself, shrinking attention spans also make it difficult to capture applicants’ attention. Ultimately, a good job description has everything to do with getting candidates to apply.

A good job description…

A good job description doesn’t have to take hours to craft. Focus on writing a job description that achieves the following:

  • Ensures only qualified candidates apply
  • That if hired, the employee has a clear understanding of expectations for the role
  • Provides the basis for accurate estimations of salary and pay increases and job performance evaluations
  • Is legally compliant
    • For any U.S. job, this means it includes the physical requirements of the job to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
    • For Colorado, this means it includes benefits detail and compensation range

How to Write Better Job Descriptions

To improve your job descriptions, it’s important to recognize what a typical job description entails. The job title, company description, and role description are often the first details shared. Then it gets more specific to the role responsibilities — deliverables and performance indicators — and job requirements like skills, education, and experience. Last, a good job description will include information about the company’s benefits, compensation, and next steps.

But this doesn’t mean you have to follow that outline specifically. These aspects should be captured in some way, but you can get more creative with it — change up the descriptions, flow, or use a video. LinkedIn research shows that most applicants primarily focus on the salary and benefits, the number of direct reports (if any), key deliverables, and years of experience required. So keep that in mind as you write or try out some of these tips.

10 Tips to Write Better Job Descriptions:

  1. Think beyond the role: A job description shouldn’t be for what it currently is, but what you want it to be. And it shouldn’t just be written for the job but also what kind of person is needed. So share the desired personal qualities as well as role responsibilities.
  2. Keep things gender-neutral: With the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion, your focus on this topic should come through in your job descriptions. Avoid using overly feminine or masculine terms to describe roles to appeal to all people.
  3. Use specific and conversational language: Saying you need a great communicator is vague — instead, state that you need someone who can frequently build presentations and guide meetings with senior stakeholders. And if you say you need a problem solver, share some examples of what those problems are. Also, job descriptions don’t have to be so formal. It’s good to keep them professional, but adding a little personality helps highlight the company culture to candidates too.
  4. Write for them, not you: Don’t get caught up in writing all the job requirements and what you need from them. Remember to share what you can offer employees in return.
  5. Avoid gimmicky language or fluff: Talking about how you’re a premier employer of the Denver area sounds nice, but isn’t useful.
  6. Consider the job title: Some job titles might include things like “ninja,” “wizard,” or “wrangler.” Even though it might be fun, it’s not helpful to job seekers. Save amusing titles for internal use and provide a title more likely to appear when job seekers are searching for specific terms.
  7. Check for grammar and spelling: Just like you expect candidate applications and cover letters to be free from error, so should your job descriptions.
  8. Don’t get overly wordy: Sometimes including too many details and requirements can overwhelm a job seeker. You want to provide enough information that job candidates understand what the job entails, but not too much that they feel they won’t be up to the task.
  9. Link to more information: Another way to avoid being overly wordy and provide the next steps after a candidate has applied is to link to more information. Share your website, careers page, or employee testimonials to get candidates excited to learn more.
  10. Get creative: Job descriptions don’t have to be basic — find ways to highlight your culture. Paint a picture by writing a day in the life of the job or share a video that highlights the office and current employees.

One last thing — you should be regularly updating your job descriptions. Ideally, after reading this you’re already planning to! But most recommendations say to update every one to two years. The world changes quickly, often resulting in new ways of doing things that can translate to how we do our jobs.

Hopefully, this list includes a few new tips you can try to improve your job descriptions. But to improve your candidate pool and the chance that your applicants accept an offer, learn about other effective strategies to attract top talent in this comprehensive guide.

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