Hiring great people should be the top priority for almost every company. Without excellent employees, your business will not be able to reach its potential. A company will only ever be as great as the people who are working to build it.
Of course, hiring great people is easier said than done. There are a lot of moving parts in the hiring process, and each aspect of it deserves attention. The focus of this article will be on writing a great job description.
We believe that the job description is the most overlooked and underappreciated part of the hiring process. A well-written job description can lure ultra-talented job seekers who might not otherwise consider your company. It is one of the first points of contact many people will have with your company, and it’s critical to make a great first impression.
We’ll walk through the steps and teach you how to write a job description that gets hundreds of applicants.
Make the Job Description Easy to Read
Before you even write a word, you should consider the format of the job description you’re sending out into the world. So what do we mean by making your job description easy to read? In the images below you’ll see the exact same job description but formatted in different ways.
So what’s the difference? Spacing. White space makes text easier to read. Breaking the text into short, succinct paragraphs reduces mental strain and makes the reading experience less exhausting. The “wall of text” is never a good idea.
While this seems like a small change, it makes a huge difference.
Break the Job Description Into Sections
This tip goes hand in hand with the readability tip above. Just as you should not create a wall of text, you should not make it difficult for the reader to find what they’re looking for. The best job descriptions use headers that break the description into small sections.
What headers should you use?
At the very least, we recommend using the following five sections:
About the company – A section describing your business. Include what you do, why you do it, any awards or recognition you’ve earned, and any recent, exciting news (i.e. you’ve just raised millions of dollars, you were just featured in a major publication, you just hit a major milestone, etc.). All job descriptions should also contain a link to your website.
About the job – This section should describe what the job applicant will be expected to do if they get the job. This is the “job description” section of the job description. This section should be fairly detailed in order to paint a proper picture of the work. You do not want job applicants to have an inaccurate idea of what’s expected of them.
Required qualifications – This is the section where we see the most mistakes. For whatever reason, companies continue to load this section with never-ending lists of requirements that very few job applicants will ever achieve. We don’t know why this is so common, but it needs to stop. There are likely only a handful of true “requirements” that a job applicant must have in order to qualify for the position. When writing this section, carefully consider what qualifications are true “must-haves” vs. what things can be learned on the job.
Preferred qualifications – This is the most underutilized section of a job description. Many companies forgo this section altogether, which is probably why we see so many required qualifications. Use this section to communicate to job applicants the things that may help them stand out, but aren’t necessarily required in order to apply. For example, you might prefer that the Graphic Designer you’re hiring has a four-year degree, but what really matters is whether or not they’re good in Adobe Illustrator.
Company Benefits – Use this section to describe the perks and benefits of working at your company. Do you offer things like dental and health insurance? Are employees given generous paid time off? Do you cater lunch or reimburse gym memberships? Any and everything that might entice someone to come and work for you should be listed here.
Eddy’s applicant tracking system saves hiring teams up to 15 hours each week.
Use Bullet Points
Now that you’ve broken your job description into sections, you’ll want to continue to focus on making your post as easy to read as possible. Another great step here is utilizing bullet points in a few of your sections.
For example, your “About the job” section may have a short, introductory paragraph followed by a list of bullet points that describe the job functions.
- A description of job duty #1
- A description of job duty #2
- A description of job duty #3
- A description of job duty #4
The “About the job”, “Required qualifications”, “Preferred qualifications” and “Company benefits” sections should all utilize bullet points to improve readability.
Another cardinal sin of creating a job description is copying and pasting information from another company’s job post. When we see this, it drives us absolutely crazy.
The job you’re asking candidates to apply for is unique to your company. Although it might have the same title as a job in a different company, it is inherently different. Do not ask applicants to apply to a job that has a description stolen from a different business. This is not only lazy, but it’s dishonest. It means that you actually don’t know what the job duties are, or what the requirements should be, so instead of figuring it out, you just copied someone else.
Please don’t do this. Original content is so important. If you don’t know how to write the job description for a certain position, then get help from someone inside the company who does.
You may find yourself hiring for a position that your company has never hired for before. There’s nothing wrong with searching the internet to learn more about the position and what should be expected, but you cross a line when you copy-and-paste directly from another job post. Take the time to really brainstorm what you want that person to do for your company.
Your business is unique. The challenges and responsibilities your employees face belong solely to your organization. If you outsource your job descriptions you’re admitting that you don’t know enough to hire for the job. That will ultimately set the employee up for failure because neither they, nor you, will know what success looks like within the context of your business.
Keep the Job Description Brief
In early 2019, LinkedIn published some interesting statistics about the job posts being published on their platform. One of the most insightful takeaways from the study was that shorter job posts get more applications than long ones.
In fact, according to LinkedIn, job posts that contained around 300 words outperformed posts that contained 600-1,000 words. The shorter job posts saw an 8.4% increase in applications.
So, what can you learn from this?
A key to a great job description that attracts hundreds of applicants is brevity.
Say what you need to say, but don’t add any extra words, fluff, or unnecessary requirements.
Start the job description with a short summary of the company. Follow the company description with outlines of the job duties and job requirements. Promptly end your job description with an overview of the benefits an employee receives while working at the company.
We wish we didn’t have to say it. Unfortunately, we’ve heard too many stories from distraught, disappointed candidates to leave it unsaid. When you create your job description, you must be honest.
You should never include anything in your job description that is untrue. Remember, this will be the first interaction that hundreds of people will have with your company. If you are dishonest, you’ll immediately lose trust. What you might gain through subtle deception will never be worth what you lose in credibility.
When describing your company, your goal should be to promote it in the most appealing way possible. However, this does not give you permission to fabricate stories, awards, or recognition that doesn’t exist. Rather than pretend to be something you’re not, promote the things that you are.
Another section of the job description that is often ripe with inaccuracies is the company benefits section. This section is important to potential new hires because they’re concerned about how this new job might affect their personal or family life. If you don’t offer health insurance, then do not pretend that you do. If you only give employees 10 days of paid time off each year, do not claim that you permit 20.
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Professional Beats Casual
Have you ever seen job posts that are promoting something along the lines of, “Sales Ninja”, “Marketing Guru” or “Customer Success Rock Star?”
First of all, what do those titles even mean?
Second of all, who actually resonates with these posts?
There are very few people in the world who, when asked in a professional setting what they do for work, would respond with a straight face and say, “I’m a sales ninja.”
That just doesn’t happen.
We are all for adding personality and bits and pieces of your company culture into a job description, but for the most part, we recommend keeping a professional tone.
In fact, LinkedIn’s study on job descriptions found that job seekers had a much more negative opinion of an employer who used a casual tone in their job description. These “casual” job descriptions also saw fewer applicants when compared to job descriptions that were described as “generic” or “professional.”
Please don’t get this confused. This is not to tell you that you can’t sprinkle some personality throughout your job descriptions. You can and you should. We just want to make it clear that if you want to attract professionals, you’ll need to strike a professional tone. Ultimately, people are looking for a career, not a party.
Stay on brand, be creative, write in a way that’s enjoyable to read, but keep the “ninja”, “guru”, and “rock star” language to yourself.
Get Feedback Before Posting
Our final piece of advice on how to create job descriptions that get hundreds of applicants is to get a second or third opinion on the description before putting it out in the world. This will not only help you catch any spelling or grammatical errors you may have made, but it will help you gauge whether or not the post will relate to the target audience.
After all, job descriptions are nothing more than advertisements. In the same way a car dealership displays an ad to get you to purchase a vehicle, you are sharing a job description to get someone to come and work for your company.
If you are responsible for creating the job description but do not fall into the target audience, then ask for help from someone who does.
If you’re hiring for a software developer, have a few developers in your company review the job post. Ask them if they’d apply if they saw a description like the one you’re planning on sharing. Ask them if there’s anything you left out or anything you should add.
This is such a simple step, but very few people take the time to do it.
If you want more people to relate (and therefore apply) to the job, you should get feedback directly from people who identify as the target audience.
We hope you enjoyed this guide and we wish you well on creating your next job post. If you follow these best practices, we can guarantee that your application rate will improve. Learning how to create a job description that gets hundreds of applicants isn’t rocket science, but it will require that you follow some proven guidelines. Take these tips, apply them, and wait for the candidates to roll in. We’ll be cheering you on!