To Write Amazing Job Descriptions, Start with a Solid Foundation

Three people ripping up papers and shouting into the sky. Title - Struggling with Job Descriptions?

I read a lot of articles on how to write job descriptions and I’ve wondered; “Why is hiring such a difficult and dreaded task?”

I’ve decided it’s because one size simply doesn’t fit all. Every description is written for a different job in a different company, and all companies have unique personalities.

Before bringing personality into the job posting, you have to start with a solid foundation.

What are the secrets to writing amazing job descriptions? One that brings in quality applicants, but not so many that you’re suddenly overwhelmed. You want to attract applicants who exceed requirements, not scare them away with daunting lists of qualifications.

You always start with the foundation, here’s how to do it.

The Basics

First, get a basic outline of the information you should provide in the job description, especially if you’re not experienced in hiring. Collaborate with colleagues who can help you nail down requirements and preferences. Gather as much specific information as possible.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, a typical job description will include the following:

  • Job title
  • Job objective or overall purpose statement
  • Summary of the general nature and level of the job
  • Description of the broad function and scope of the position
  • List of duties or tasks performed critical to success
  • Key functional and relational responsibilities in order of significance
  • Description of the relationships and roles within the company, including supervisory positions, subordinating roles, and other working relationships

This list will help you build the solid foundation of a good description, but to write a great one you’ll need to go a lot deeper than the basics.

Get Personal

Many job descriptions sound like they were printed out of a robot. Try to catch your reader’s eye from the beginning. Have some fun writing your description! Consider the kind of employee you want to hire and write to them, like a human.

Write the way you would normally talk about your company and try to work in your core values naturally. This gives applicants a peek into your culture and will attract the right candidates while dissuading others.

Request a little more than a resume and cover letter from your applicant. You want to show off your company’s personality in your description, but it’s also nice to give your applicants a way to display theirs. You could offer a personality test, but be careful not to fall out of compliance by being careless with your choice of questions.

The wording of your description should focus on the applicant more than the employer. We naturally think in terms of ourselves. Focusing on saying you rather than we can help the reader picture themselves working in your business.

Now that your job description doesn’t sound like a robot and you’ve got some personality in there, it’s important to remember this next step.

Keep it Simple

Be specific and clearly differentiate “required” from “preferred” qualities. Listing every bit of experience or skills as requirements could cost you a great candidate. Don’t get too carried away with the basics listed above. Start with one sentence for each, and challenge yourself to only say what you must.

Depending on the job, descriptions should be between 400 and 800 words. It’s long enough to be thorough without overwhelming job seekers.

A well-planned job description will:

  • Help attract the right candidates and avert the wrong ones.
  • Serve as a major basis for outlining performance expecttions, job training, job evaluation and career advancement.
  • Provide a reference point for compensation decisions and unfair hiring practices.

Consider formatting your job description like this blog post. Use engaging titles to attract applicants, bold headlines, and bullet points to organize and increase readability, and more importantly use links that connect the applicant to your company’s website.

Two of the same people as above but now they are throwing the papers with their hands in the air smiling. List - 1. Nail the basics. 2. Get Personal. 3. Keep it Simple.

Bonus Tip: Make a short video of current employees talking about how much they love working there. You could also give a tour of your company and talk about your business and what your vision for the future entails.

No matter what job you are hiring for, we hope this advice made the process a little easier and led you to the perfect candidate.

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