How to Write a Job Description & Attract the Right Candidate
It’s a well-documented fact that interviews are the least accurate method for evaluating a candidate. Our own head of recruiting JD Conway has explored the subject in great detail in our recent webinar on how tips for improving your hiring practice. I caught up with JD after this webinar and got additional details on an important part of the recruiting process: deconstructing your job postings to be sure that you’re asking the right questions.
Let’s get inside your best candidates’ heads for a minute. What will they do when they read your job posting? They’re going to break it down and parse every word, from action verbs like manage and coordinate to the list of specialized skills needed. Then they’re going to ask themselves two questions: “Can I do this?” and “Do I want to do this?” Your best candidates are going to answer both of these questions with an emphatic yes. And the more accurately you market the position, the more likely that your candidate will continue to answer yes and stick with the position for the long term.
Once again, though, you have a limited window to communicate the truth of the job position. While your hiring managers might think you need someone who is exactly like the person you’re trying to replace, your candidates aren’t going to spend their time reading through 15 minutes worth of job duties, not when they’re trying to apply from their phone. And if they’re like more than a quarter of the people who apply at BambooHR, they’re going to apply from their phone.
You can use the following tips as a job posting template and create a job posting sample to distribute to your staff.
Tips on How to Write a Job Description:
Write a clear and attractive job title
A traditional job title works best, not something with the word “Rockstar” in it. Just write the actual position name and one or two attractive details about it. Attract people who are applying for a position they understand and are genuinely interested in.
Write a great lead
Write a short paragraph that hooks the reader with 3–5 exciting features of the job.
Outline the essential job functions
So before you draft your ad, break the job down. Start with outlining the five essential functions the successful candidate will perform. List only the amount of duties and requirements that you absolutely have to, rather than a huge list of bullet points that very few people read. It might take only one to three points to describe a typical day in the life of the role. Make each line brief and clear.
Fun psychology fact: the human brain can only hold between five and nine pieces of information in short-term memory: It’s why we remember phone numbers as three groups of numbers instead of ten individual numbers. Keeping this in mind can help your candidates get the full scope of the job while reducing the need to reread.
Breakdown the average day
A great way to learn how to write a job posting is to start by breaking down how the successful candidate will spend their day. List the time spent on main daily duties and occasional peripheral tasks. This will help you emphasize the right points in your job postings. For example, If your writers spend 75% of their time writing emails and only 5% doing an occasional video script, then listing both as main points might give the ability to write scripts more importance than it actually has.
Define what success is for the position
Examine how you measure success for this position. Is it based on quantity or quality? Is the team competitive or collaborative? Are goals measured in revenue, leads, user ratings, or some other metric? With this question, the only perfect answer is the honest one: it takes all types of personalities and preferences to create a successful organization.
Understanding how you measure success is the first step to helping your candidates honestly evaluate whether they can succeed and whether they want to.
Sell your company
Relate information that applicants will really be interested in that will affect him or her, such as interesting clients, testimonials from team members, and details of company culture. Be sure to include any exciting perks of the job.
Reveal the application process
Candidates don’t like being left in the dark, especially if they’re unemployed. So, this is one place where they’ll be happy to hear too much information, rather than too little. If you are constantly hiring for new positions, then consider using an application tracking system to simplify your process.
Consider the training process
Now that you’ve broken this down, there’s one final consideration: how much training your new hire will need. It’s at this point that you can fine-tune your job postings based on your training capabilities. Review what your onboarding process looks like and evaluate what a new candidate will have to learn as they are hired on.
It’s also good to know how not to write a job posting. So here are some tips to assist in creating your next job posting template.
Here Are Four Things to Avoid:
Avoid even unconscious bias. Minimize how much you talk about years of experience, which can discourage potential employees who could do the job on less experience. And use a tool like Textio to make your description gender-neutral.
Saying who you won’t consider
It’s discourteous to say you won’t even consider someone with who doesn’t have a certain attribute. That just makes you and your brand sound negative. Instead, politely state something like, “Proven experience in x is crucial for success in this role.”
Walls of text
As more and more candidates search for jobs from their phones, they increasingly need ads to be very easy to read, with bulleted lists and each section clearly separated from others.
Make applicants curious about the job, but as we mentioned above, state your expectations on job duties and requirements very clearly. Especially avoid confusion and disappointment later by listing non-negotiable requirements.
For more on this subject, checkout JD’s webinar: 4 Strategic Hiring Processes at Play.