Recruiting is a seriously competitive industry. And first impressions matter. That’s why your job description writing skills are an important weapon of your organizational armory and why writing a good job posting is essential to success.
The most effective job descriptions are engaging and inclusive, while also being clear, concise, and to-the-point. Anyone should be able to understand it. A great job posting prompts the right people to apply and helps you trim down your time-to-fill.
Your description should accurately reflect the duties and job responsibilities of the position. When well-written, it produces a realistic picture of a job and answers the question,
“What does the person in this role actually do?”
Due to the number of job postings accessible on the web, it’s hard to get noticed.
In this article we are going to explain the key to writing a good job posting and also some tips on how to make your job description stand out.
Describing the position when writing a good job posting
If you’re noticing difficulties arising from filling a vacancy for that “rockstar” developer, DevOps “ninja” or digital marketing “guru,” you’re likely alienating candidates with your use of language, according to research from Indeed. Or even offending them.
Trade disingenuous job titles for clearer ones. If you want to hire a Full-Stack Developer and instead advertise for a “Web Development Specialist,” you’ll likely attract the wrong people and miss out on the better candidate. The key to writing a good job posting is transparency.
Some examples of sound job titles include Data Analyst, System Administrator, QA Tester, IT Technician, Server-Side Developer, Computer Support Specialist, and Sales Engineer.
Summarize the role
This one-to four-sentence overview should include a description of the job’s major function, and how it contributes to larger company objectives. Basically it’s a concise summary of “why the job exists.”
Candidates tend to skim job descriptions, so jargon and confusing phrases will turn them off. Before publishing, double-check your description to ensure clarity and accuracy.
Using invitational language, like, “Come join a creative team of … dedicated to …” is particularly effective.
Here’s a poorly written job description:
Here’s a clearer, shorter, and jargon-free version of the same job description:
Image credit: Workable
Job Responsibilities and Duties
Pay attention to the following tips to give your job responsibilities and duties section a stronger look. Getting this right is key to writing a good job posting.
Outline the core responsibilities of the position – Describe the key job functions in five to seven key bullet points. You can also opt to group two to three bullets under larger categories, such as, “Technical Skills,” “Management Skills,” and “Communication.” Don’t forget to include duties that may be unique to your organization.
Highlight the day-to-day activities of the position – Simplifying the explanations will help candidates to understand the work environment and their activities on a daily basis. This intricate level of detail assists both sides. It helps the candidate determine if the role and company are a proper fit and it helps you to attract the best candidates for the position.
Specify how the position fits into the organization – It’s important to indicate who the job reports to and how the person will function within your organization. This helps candidates see the bigger picture and understand how the role impacts the business.
Things to remember:
- Start each responsibility with a “to be” verb rather than an “ing” verb to make your statements more powerful.
- The best job descriptions are written in the 1st/2nd person (e.g. using “you” and “we” type language) instead of 3rd person.
- If you’re in a competitively quantifiable industry, it may be worth articulating the duties list in a SMART performance goal format.
An ineffective list of duties: Duties include supporting VP of engineering level management and above, researching and implementing software programs, testing new programs, writing code, finding improvements for our software, deploying software tools and metrics, UI/UX design, and working closely with TechSoft’s marketing and design team.
An effective list of duties:
- Support VP of Engineering with technical assistance
- Research, design, implement and manage software programs
- Test and evaluate new software
- Write and implement efficient code
- Develop quality assurance procedures
- Deploy software tools, processes and metrics
- Work closely with our other developers, UX designers, and business and systems analysts
Image credit: Patch
Skills and Qualifications
In this section, first focus on specifying all mandatory qualifications and experience that you deem necessary, followed by any preferred skills. For each qualification, include the level of experience and certifications, including any required technical proficiency.
Identify the minimum number of full-time experience required in terms of years and the type of work experience that an employee needs to be qualified for the job. Should internships, undergraduate work experience, and graduate assistantships be accepted levels of experience; this will need to be specifically stated.
While you may be tempted to list out every requirement you envision for your ideal hire, including too many qualifications and skills could dissuade potential candidates so be prudent.
An ineffective list of skills and qualifications:
A Bachelor’s degree in a field appropriate to the area of occupation and three (3) years of related experience, including three (1) years of supervisory experience; great verbal and people skills, a good user of database programs like Oracle, knows front-end languages such as HTML and JS and server-side languages like Python and Ruby, can fit into a team.
An effective list of skills and qualifications:
- Degree in Computer Science, OR equivalent combination of education and experience
- Three years of related developer engineering experience
- Strong organizational and project management skills
- Proficiency with server-side languages such as Python, Ruby, Java, PHP and .Net
- Familiarity with database technology such as MySQL, Oracle, and MongoDB
- Excellent verbal communication skills, good problem-solving skills and attention to detail
Image credit: Security Intelligence
Organizational Values & Culture
It’s arguable that cultural fit is just as important to both employees and employers as technical and experience fit. A bad hire costs money and drains productivity; a lack of culture fit and employee engagement increases turnover, so it’s crucial to get right.
Emphasize your company’s mission, vision, and values so candidates can gain insight into what your company is all about. Highlighting benefits, perks and workplace bonuses can help, as well as any compatible personality traits that will blend well into the organization.
Often it’s this section of the job posting that will motivate a candidate to apply. If a candidate is 50/50, a fun and enticing company culture can be the tonic that pushes a candidate in your favor. Be creative, but honest, and remember to run any ideas you have by management.
A screenshot of a succinct overview of company culture from BambooHR
This one is a tricky one. In some countries, explicitly stating a position’s salary is mandatory. In others, it’s not common practice. One thing is for sure though, candidates care about it more than anything else in your job posting.
Taking this into consideration, and to get a jump on your competition, it’s probably worth mentioning. The added transparency will be appreciated by candidates.
The amount doesn’t have to be exact. You could give a salary range or embed a third-party source (e.g. a Glassdoor widget) that shows what others say you pay.
Image credit:LinkedIn Talent Blog
Tips to make your company stand out when writing a good job posting
- Target specific personalities – By knowing and understanding the type and persona of a potential employee you are targeting, you can use language that is receptive to them.
- Emphasize perks – Writing a good job posting is highlighting company policies on flexible work schedules, casual days, and employee benefits. This will be received positively by most candidates.
- Highlight the skills – If you’re a tech company, oftentimes starting the post by listing the required skills saves you and the candidate a lot of time. If you’re after a developer with knowledge of a specific tech-stack, it’s best to be direct to drastically improve your time-to-hire.
- Ask your team for help – Enlisting the advice of current employees to know what attracts them can be super beneficial. If they’ve played a role in writing the posting, there will be added motivation for them to share it on social media and help circulate it. Adding a finder’s fee in your office can also be a great idea.
- Add the word ‘remote’ – The idea of working from home is music to any person’s ears. A lot of candidates are choosing this lifestyle and if the role is able to be performed remotely, advertise it as such.
- Include a twist – Making a post interesting can be fun for a candidate to digest. Some companies add what they call an ‘Easter egg’ into the post by asking, “Let us know what your favorite band is and why when applying”. You’ll be surprised what you hear back.
To sum it up
These days, job seekers aren’t limited to the local classified section. In today’s candidates-centric market they can visit countless online resources to apply for the role of their dreams.
As much as this is convenient for job seekers, it creates problems for your business.
Writing a good job posting opens the door for a successful hiring process. Use our tips to nail writing job posting and find your latest perfect hire!
Image credit: Flexjobs