An effective job description gives all the information a suitable candidate needs to feel it is a job worth applying for.
It is all the rage in recent years to pimp up a job posting in order to make a position sound sexier than it really is (“Hygiene Operative” for a cleaner and, even better, “Coin Facilitation Engineer” for a toll booth collector are two personal favorites). However, being unclear in the job title – which is the first thing a potential candidate sees – means you are probably already attracting the wrong people, before they even read past the title.
Cut out the ambiguity by giving your job description the title of the position you are recruiting for, be it Marketing Manager, PR Executive or Dishwasher!
This overview should be a short paragraph on what you are looking for, the main function of the job, and information on the company itself. The aim is to separate the wheat from the chaff by presenting a bitesize description of the position; thanks to the overview, the people who were attracted by the job title will know immediately if they’d like to keep reading. Make the job and company sound appealing by using language such as, “Come and join a growing company…”, “an exciting opportunity”, or ask a question such as, “Are you looking to develop your (HR) knowledge and experience?” In short, use language that indicates an interesting position in a fast-paced company.
You will lose people’s attention way before they get even halfway through the description, if it is too wordy and rambling. Don’t just give a long list of boring daily tasks: list the main and most relevant ones. For example, an Office Manager is likely to have dozens of different tasks but listing each and every one will mean the most important get lost among the minutiae. Moreover, mile-long, bulleted lists are difficult to absorb. Divide key functions into categories with around 6 to 7 bullet points of tasks that fall within this category.
That said, do not leave out important details. You want to paint a picture of the day-to-day responsibilities so the candidate has a good idea of what his or her average working day will look like.
Also think about making your list of tasks punchy! “Management of the helpdesk system ensuring issues, queries and incidents are dealt with” can be whittled down to “Helpdesk system management”, and you can elaborate on what this entails during the interview process.
Most people are not looking for a job where they tread water for the next 20 years, barely adding any strings to their bow and skills to their skillset. Most jobseekers want to know that a new position will lead somewhere and help their career to develop and evolve. Do this by talking about the transformation happening in the industry and the role your company plays in the domain. Sell your company by mentioning recent or anticipated growth, to show that it is expanding. This gives the impression of a company on the rise, with possible future possibilities for promotions and the ability to learn new skills. You want to attract ambitious, goal-oriented candidates and there is no better way to do this than to let them know that there are stimulating opportunities in your company.
If you are looking to recruit a person with 5 years’ experience, don’t forget to mention this in your job posting. Omitting the level of experience required for the job will result in you receiving many resumés from people with either too much experience (and therefore high salary expectations) or not enough experience, such as young graduates, who would be quickly out of their depth due to their lack of experience in the field. Again, the aim of writing the perfect job description is to receive fewer, more qualitative applications so as to save you time when going through the recruiting process, so be clear as to what you expect from a candidate.
What skills does he or she need to possess? Which software should he or she be familiar with? If the knowledge of a certain software or skill is not vital, don’t hesitate to mention that it is only “preferred” rather than losing out on the perfect candidates who have the impression that they do not have the necessary qualities for the job.
It is not enough for a candidate to just like the job, he or she also needs to like the company too, in order to remain there for a decent period of time. In fact, this is paramount to attracting and retaining the right talent. Clearly, the position itself is the most important aspect, but the perks and benefits also count, especially for lower positions with a not-so-high salary. So don’t leave them out of your job description.
Does your company have an on-site gym? Are there performance-based incentives and compensation? Bonuses? Are there regular team building activities such as breakfasts or afterwork drinks? The possibility to work remotely? Flexible schedules? An on-site kindergarten? Don’t keep this information to yourself: shout it from the rooftops!
List all the best incentives to entice candidates. The cultural fit is just as important as experience to ensure loyalty and productivity from employees and to avoid a high turnover of staff for employers. Moreover, the benefits you offer can improve your employer brand. If word gets around that you offer excellent perks to employees, job seekers will start to specifically search for opportunities in your company.
Although talking about money can be uncomfortable for some, it is important to give the salary range in your job description. Don’t waste your and your candidate’s time by not giving the salary range, instead calling him or her in for an interview and waiting until he or she is in front of you before asking about salary expectations. If the difference between what he or she expects and what you can offer is insurmountable, you will have wasted an hour or two of your time and the candidate even more by attending the interview. Giving the salary range will also reduce the time spent in negotiations with a candidate. If the candidate knows the top amount you are willing to pay, negotiations are much easier and quicker.
Make sure you don’t include any language that could be viewed as discriminatory based on religion, sex, race, color, age, disability, citizenship status or origin. Nothing will bring you a lawsuit faster than a job description that so much as hints at intolerance and prejudice against a certain group, not to mention the damage it could to do your company image and brand. Let your company be known for its acceptance of the best candidates, whatever their background.
By the same token, don’t be too discriminatory about the level of experience required for the job. Unless you are recruiting for the position of CEO or Director, don’t assume that a candidate with 15 years’ experience instead of 20 will not be up to the job. Be realistic in your expectations of candidates.
Make it easy to apply by adding add a call-to-action to the end of your job description that, when clicked on, takes the person straight to the application page. Avoid long questionnaires and hoops to jump through before the person can send you their resumé, as he or she may end up giving up before reaching the final destination.
Or add the email address of the person to apply to at the end of the job posting. In any case, make it clear what the applicant needs to do. If you require a cover letter or need to give any additional information, such as stating that the person must have a driver’s license or be at least 21 years old to apply, this is the time and place to do it.
The quality of the applications is indicative of the quality of the job description. Before candidates reach your website, they will reach your job posting, so the key is to reel them in with an interesting offer, whet their appetite to find out more and if the position is right for them, and entice the right people into applying.
By Frankie Edwards
Frankie Edwards works in Marketing at PeopleSpheres.com, a company that provides an innovative 3-in-1 integration platform that addresses today’s HR issues by creating a centralized database of all employee HR data and a Core HR. Frankie is passionate about how the lives – and processes – of Human Resources professionals can be facilitated.