Recruiting & Hiring Blog for HR Professionals

The Anatomy of the Best Job Descriptions

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For many job seekers, your company’s job description is the first thing they read to learn about a new role within your organization. Unfortunately, many job postings fail to include three critical things:

  1. A description of how the role supports business objectives
  2. Realistic expectations for experience and qualifications
  3. Insight into the company culture and work environment

To attract the most qualified applicants who are most engaged with your company and excited about the role, many of us need to rethink the way we write job descriptions. One way to start is by breaking down the basic anatomy of every job posting and analyzing the qualities it needs to stand out from the rest.

Title – Make It Searchable and Relevant

Use the most searchable job titles that the right candidates are most likely to search for. If you have a creative job title for the role, use it within the description instead. It’s OK to give your description some personality with a trendy title—just make sure the job title represents the role and keywords a job seeker would be searching for.

Takeaway: The best job descriptions use titles that are clear and align with industry terminology for the position. For example, if you’re hiring for a Certified Nursing Assistant but internally the role is called “Case Manager,” be sure to consider what a job seeker is likely to search for on an online job board when you create your job title.

Role and Company Overview – Make It Interesting and Relatable

Rather than diving right into all the responsibilities and requirements of the position, ease the applicant in by giving her a short description of what the job will entail and what your company does. Describe the value the role brings to the department and how the position supports the corporate mission and goals.

The candidate should be able to quickly understand what the job entails and the high-level expectations. If you’re clear about these things up front, you will avoid applicants who don’t fit the bill. Also, include information about benefits and the day-to-day perks of the job. This can include things like monthly company lunches, flexible hours as well as traditional benefits.

Takeaway: The best job posting have personality and keep the applicant wanting to read more about your company. Keep your description professional, but also consider the personality of the applicant you are trying to attract. For example, if you’re hiring for day care professionals, you may want to use friendly language to attract warm and nurturing caregivers for children.

Responsibilities – Keep Them Concise and Accurate

Take the time to write a complete description of day-to-day tasks so job seekers understand exactly what you are looking for in an applicant. Keep your day-to-day responsibilities at a high level. You want to make sure the candidate you’re considering understands the job he may be hired for, but if you load your position template with dozens of detailed responsibilities, you might scare applicants away. Choose eight to 10 key responsibilities and include them in a short bulleted list. Also, limit business jargon as much as possible. This includes phrases such as “core competency,” “heavy lifting” and “team player.” Instead, tell the applicant exactly what you’re looking for in clear, natural language.

Takeaway: The best job descriptions deliver a concise list of core responsibilities without overwhelming the applicant. They also provide an accurate description of what working at the company will be like, whether that’s through bullet points or a video full of employee testimonials.

Skills and Qualifications – Keep Them Realistic Without Overwhelming

We know you'd love to hire an applicant with all of your desired qualifications, but finding a large pool of applicants that meet a list of 20+ job requirements is easier said than done. To avoid losing great applicants just because they don’t meet a few of the required skills and qualifications, keep your requirements flexible. State which qualifications your “ideal candidate” would have, but be sure to clarify which ones are mandatory.

Takeaway: The best job postings have flexible or semi-flexible requirements for skills and qualifications. They clearly state which ones are mandatory and those that are “nice to have” or preferred.

Now that you know all the basics about writing great job postings, it’s time to get started. Download our template to put these tips into practice and create a job description that will attract the best talent.

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Topics: Attract More Applicants, Hiring Process, Job Description Writing Tips

This is disclaimer text. We’ve shared these tips to help educate you on social media employment screenings and considerations for your business — this information should not be construed as legal advice. But if your company chooses to screen applicants on social media or want to explore the topic even further, consult with an attorney for advice related to this screening tactic.

Photo credit: photographer via website

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