What You Should Know About Writing Job Descriptions
Hiring top talent requires a well thought-out recruitment strategy. Think of a recruitment strategy as your playbook for each stage of the process of attracting, screening, interviewing, and selecting candidates. The more thoroughly you approach each stage, the greater your chances of adding the right new team member in the shortest time to hire.
In the initial stage of attracting candidates, the key will be your job description.
Job descriptions are typically your first point of contact with your candidate audience. How you communicate the information in your job description will shape how a potential candidate perceives the job duties, the value of the role to the company, the company culture, the organization of the hiring process, and the like.
In a competitive marketplace, you want your job description to stand out so the most qualified candidates will be intrigued and motivated to apply. It’s about making an awesome first impression, and simply throwing together a generic job description won’t cut it. By putting extra time and attention into how you research, draft, and post your job description, you can make a big difference in the quality of applications and resumes you receive back.
Step 1: Researching your job description
Put in the time. Remember, you want to make a great first impression on your potential candidates. Look at your job description as an opportunity to thoroughly and creatively talk about all the wonderful things your company is doing and how the role will contribute to its continued success. You want to fully inform while generating excitement. The more effort you put in now to ensure your job description is on point, the more qualified applications and resumes you’ll receive later.
Start with a template. Communicate as much as you can in your job description so potential candidates can make good decisions about whether to apply or not. The more detailed you are, the more accurate a candidate can be when evaluating a fit for their qualifications and career goals. Starting with a template is an excellent way to see how a typical job description for the role is organized and the basic information it contains. A template is just a guide, so delete or substitute any content that is not applicable to your specific role. For example, the template may state a requirement of “3 years experience in a similar job”. If your company is looking for a team member with at least five years of experience you can simply substitute one number for the other in your version of the job description. Click here to view our roster of common job description templates.
Gather additional information. A job description template is just a starting point. Continue by gathering the additional information you’ll need to tailor the job description to your specific role. First, make notes of your own, including role responsibilities, required qualifications, company information, salary and benefits, and the like. Next, ask internal sources for any additional insights they can provide, particularly stakeholders in the department where the new team member will work. Finally, research external sources for more ideas on how to describe the job. For example, try a basic Google search of the job title, look at job descriptions for the same role posted by your competitors, and talk to people in your professional network who have recently hired a similar role.
Step 2: Drafting your job description
Promote the personality of your company. Now that you have a template and all additional information you gathered, you’re ready to begin the formal drafting process. First, you’ll want to decide on a drafting style that suits your company’s personality. Are you hiring for a company with a very corporate and professional culture, where employees wear formal business attire? Good examples would be financial institutions and insurance companies. Or are you hiring for a startup’s casual environment where jeans and t-shirts are the norm? How you write your job description should accurately reflect your company’s culture. Why? Because you want to attract candidates who will fit your company culture. For a more corporate role, use language that’s formal and serious; for a casual environment, your choice of wording can be light and airy, using more “hip” or youthful expressions.
Edit and re-edit! A first draft will rarely be your best draft. A strong writer will prepare a first draft and set it aside. Then return to the draft later for a round of edits, and repeat the process until the job description reads smoothly and incorporates all of the desired information. Look for and eliminate any grammar mistakes and any redundant or inconsistent statements. Review the draft as if you’re a potential candidate reading it for the first time. Is the presentation crystal clear? Is there enough information for the candidate to assess the company and role? Will a candidate get a good feel for your company culture? Keep editing until you get it right.
Run it by colleagues. Once you’re confident you have a final draft in hand, run it by your colleagues in the company who have a stake in the hire. Get any final feedback and insights to make sure everything stated in the draft is accurate and reflects well on the organization. Remember, these colleagues will be participating in the hiring process further downstream during interviews and selection, so it’s best to have everybody invested at the job description stage to help ensure you are attracting the right candidates. A poor or ineffective job description that attracts unqualified candidates will waste a great deal of time and resources for all concerned.
Step 3: Posting and circulating your job description
Congratulations! You’ve successfully researched and drafted your job description, and now you’re ready to get it in front of potential candidates. Here are several effective ways to reach your audience:
Post on your company website. Many job seekers have in mind certain companies they want to target for employment opportunities. Be sure to post the job description on your company website so it’s available to potential candidates who may be researching opportunities in your organization.
Circulate your job listing internally. Your ideal candidate may already be a part of your company. Post, email, or announce the open job description so your current employees can consider their candidacy for the role. Hiring from within can be a huge benefit in the form of a shorter time to hire, reduced training requirements, and a known track record of performance.
Network, network, network. If you have a clear idea of the type of candidate you want to attract, you can figure out where that type of person spends business or casual time. By hanging out in the same places as your potential candidate pool, you create opportunities to discuss your open job and circulate your job description. For example, you may meet senior-level executives at formal business events, or digital marketers at hip coffee shops around town, or the like. Don’t forget as well to invite your current employees to network among friends who might be interested and qualified for the role. Arm your employees with a copy of the job description and motivate them with an incentive program for a successful referral.
Post on a variety of job boards. Job boards are great for wide dissemination of your job description. Keep in mind that not all job boards are created equal. Job boards vary by the types of candidates they attract, the number of viewers who visit the site, and of course price. Familiarize yourself with the most popular job boards and choose the one that best fits your needs.
Here is a quick guide:
CareerBuilder: Careerbuilder is a site known for attracting candidates with higher levels of education and experience. Many jobs posted here are executive-level positions across a range of industries. The fees to post on this site are higher than many competitors.
Indeed: Indeed is one of the most popular job boards, attracting millions of visitors per month looking for position across a range of industries. Different from Careerbuilder, Indeed is known for attracting candidates with less education and seeking non-executive level positions. With such a large audience comes the potential for getting a large volume of “spray and pray” submissions from candidates who simply reply without taking the time to match their qualifications with the role. The fees to post on this site are lower than many competitors.
Monster: Monster is a very popular job board for companies who are also considering Indeed. Their audience tends to lean toward candidates more similar to Indeed than to Careerbuilder. The fees to post on this site are higher than many competitors.
ZipRecruiter: ZipRecruiter is a newer entry than some of the other major sites but is already offering access to millions of job seekers. ZipRecruiter can be a good choice for finding candidates for mid-level jobs. The fees to post on this site are higher than many competitors.
Craigslist: Craigslist is a less structured presentation that tends to offer mainstream jobs along with more odd jobs. There is a higher risk of non-legitimate jobs being posted on Craigslist than most other sites. The fees to post on this site are lower than many competitors.
Specialized job boards: The major job boards discussed above invite postings from employers across all industries and job types. Depending on your situation, you may wish to consider a specialized job board that focuses solely on postings for jobs in your industry. Examples include AllRetailJobs (for retail employers); Behance (for creative positions like design or fashion); and Poached (for highly skilled cooks and restaurant personnel).
Once you complete all three steps for creating and posting your job description, the next stages of your recruitment process will fast approach. To learn how automated video interviewing can help you screen candidates, click here.
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