The Key Concepts to Writing a Winning Job Description
Every successful business needs to have the right team to support the day-to-day operations. In today’s competitive job market, attracting the right talent to your business is essential but increasingly difficult. The best way to make your business succeed in finding the right people is all about creating the best job description.
But what makes a job description stand out from the crowd and appeal to the right candidate? We have looked at the best job descriptions out there and created a list of the key things behind a quality job description. If you follow the below tips, you can make sure your business has an edge over its competitors.
In this article, we will explore 1) why it`s all about marketing, 2) the key concepts to writing a winning job description, 3) the essential checklist, 4) don’t forget to digitalize your job description, 5) great examples, and 6) a final word.
IT’S ALL ABOUT MARKETING
The first thing you need to understand about writing a job description is the purpose of your job description. You are looking for a great person to fill a position in your organisation – essentially you are writing a marketing ad.
Therefore, writing a great job description depends a lot on your ability to understand the key concepts of marketing. Your job description is essentially part of your business brand – a bad job description will leave a bad taste about your company to the candidate. Even if the person reading the description doesn’t feel qualified to apply, you still want the person to think your business posting sounded amazing!
The three key marketing concepts to grasp with your job description are:
- creating a clear message,
- speaking with the voice of your brand and
- positioning your business and the job opening into a larger picture.
If you focus on highlighting these three with your job description, you can create a great winning job description.
Furthermore, just like with a good ad you need to make sure your job description is free of errors, and the overall look is appealing. You won’t be able to attract the best talent if you can’t even spell the words right in your own job ad. Remember this is the perfect branding opportunity for your business!
Even though the content, the message of your job description, will be the most important aspect of your job description, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on the way it looks. The first impression of the job description should make it look professional and clear. If the page is full of long text in tiny print, a candidate is unlikely to feel compelled to read it.
This is why many modern job descriptions use bullet points. You can go for a few sentences as well – just keep it sharp and simple. Furthermore, bullet points are great for job descriptions, but it doesn’t mean you should add tons of them.
A good job description can catch the candidate’s attention in an instant. It could be a quirky headline that draws the attention or you could just use an image as part of your ad – no matter what you use, you want the candidate to take the time to read your job description.
We’ll talk about the essential information and clarity later in detail, but it is important to mention that whatever trick you use to pull the attention of the candidate, you need to make sure it is relevant to the application. After all, you only want people who are right for the job to take the time to read your application. In the end, it isn’t about the amount of people who read the application, it is about the right people reading the description and applying for the position!
THE KEY CONCEPTS TO WRITING A WINNING JOB DESCRIPTION
With the above in mind, it is clear that there are certain concepts that make your job description stand out from the crowd. If you want to ensure your ad focuses on the right things, make sure the following concepts are used in your job description.
The most important concept to keep in mind is clarity. You don’t want the applicant to spend minutes figuring out what your job description is all about. You need to get straight to the point and highlight the most important aspects of the job in a clear and concise manner. Remember that you can’t possibly include every little thing about your business and the specific job opening – so focus on the essential information and don’t be afraid to leave some things unanswered.
Once you have written the first draft, it is a good idea to go through your job description word by word to ensure each word has a purpose in the text. You don’t want to add any words or pieces of information to your job description, which are not essential for the candidate to know.
The language you use should be up to the point. Avoid fuzzy terms like “sometimes” or “often”. You don’t want to leave the candidate with more questions than answers. Opt for descriptive words like “reviewed” instead of filler adjectives like “stunning”.
Finally, you only want to highlight the essentials about the specific position, the facts about your business that might influence the candidate’s willingness to apply and the key skills and qualifications you need the candidate to have. Remember that you can expand from the information as well as open up less essential concepts and facts later in the job interview, for example.
Furthermore, clarity is also important when it comes to the way your job description looks. You should never add any extra gimmicks or play with font styles or colours if they do not add any essential information to your job description!
Conversational & Engaging
You also want to make the job description conversational. You want the candidate feel like you are speaking directly to them. You shouldn’t use language that makes the reader feel distant.
This means that you should always use words like “you” to speak directly to the candidate. For example, saying “You should be passionate about accounting” sounds much more conversational and personal than saying “The candidate should be passionate about accounting”.
As mentioned above, don’t be afraid to spark thoughts or make the candidate ask questions with your job description. The ideal candidate should be able to pose you questions in the job interview, and with a conversational job description, you can do just that.
On top of this, job descriptions should aim to be engaging. Too often companies don’t include things that make the candidate act and spend a bit more time with the job description. Although the name ‘job description’ points out to an image of purely descriptive text, you do want to focus on adding elements that also engage the applicant to act.
This could be something simple like a link to a video for company employee’s discussing their job in a similar position. For instance, look at this example video of Quickstop Oilube:
It is a great example how you can talk about your company and what it is like to work in your organisation to the prospective candidate through a video.
You wouldn’t accept candidates lying in their job application, so you should be fully honest with your job description as well. Creating an honest job description might sound like an obvious advice, but there are too many job description that have the odd misinformation, whether on purpose or unintentionally.
Being honest is not only about avoiding lying; it is also about being clear about the facts. You do not want to be hiding or omitting important information. For example, when it comes to salary, be honest and clear about what it is that you are offering. Do not exclude information and be upfront about factors that might increase the starting salary.
You should also be honest about the typical tasks and responsibilities. You need to mention tasks that are expected of the applicant – never omit any responsibilities, even if they are mundane tasks, you must mention them.
A good job description paints a picture of a typical working day. This will allow you to talk about the responsibilities, and it helps the candidate understand the workload better than just using a list of tasks on the to-do list.
The bottom line is to try to think like your ideal candidate. What do you think are the most important things that would influence a person’s decision to apply for the post? As long as your job description answers these questions honestly, you are on the right path.
Finally, the last essential concept is often a bit hard to master, but nonetheless important for creating interesting and unique job descriptions. This is about injecting some personality to your job description.
This allows your job ad to be a bit more personal, and you have the chance to highlight the uniqueness of your company, as well as the specific company values you are passionate about.
Think in terms of the position as well as your business. If you are a new start-up, you should definitely add plenty of this new excitement to your job description and highlight how the candidate can help you develop and build the business. On the other hand, if your business has been working in the field for decades, you want to inject this experience and respect your business has gained into your job description.
Furthermore, you need to include your company’s values and unique position in the job market to your ad. Talk about the special benefits the candidate might enjoy at your business. Perhaps you regularly organise a team event and maintaining a great work environment is important to your business – talking about this briefly can be very attractive to someone who values teamwork.
THE ESSENTIAL CHECKLIST
The above points will help you focus on the right tone with your job description. But you naturally need to make sure your job description has all the essential details mentioned as well.
To make sure you don’t forget to include main points to your job description, here is a checklist for you to use. It’s a good idea to simply jot down the below information about your business and the position before you start writing the job description with the above concepts in mind.
- Job title & summary – Your job title should reflect the duties as well as the managerial level of the position. If you are looking for someone at the junior level, remember to mention this clearly in the job description.
- Key responsibilities – This should include the key responsibilities the person will be in charge of daily. Don’t just list tasks, but use an action verb to make it more engaging. For example, instead of saying “social media research”, write, “Research social media trends”.
- Department & supervisors – This allows you to outline the organisational structure of your business and lets the candidate know about the team he/she would be working with.
- Skills & qualifications – Include the essential skills you are looking for, as well as the skills that might be beneficial but not necessary to guarantee you don’t limit your applications too much.
- Company overview – You shouldn’t have to talk about your company too much, as you want the candidates to do some research of their own. Nonetheless, you do want to include short ideas about the business that might appeal to the right candidate. This is especially important for smaller businesses that might not yet be that known in the job market.
- Location – Always include the location where the work is performed and whether the position includes working in another location, even if very occasionally.
- Type of employment – Again, this is all about clarity. You need to be upfront about whether the position is part-time or full-time, whether you are hiring someone on a contract or as in-house staff. Make sure you mention the length of a possible probation time.
- Salary range & benefits – If the position includes any additional benefits, whether or not monetary, remember to mention them.
- Recruiter contact information – Make sure the candidates have all the information to contact the recruiting agency or the person in charge of applications.
Please note the above list is not in any specific order, so you can include it into your description in a variety of ways. Furthermore, you can freely display the information in different styles or formats. The key is to make sure all of the information can be found from the job description in a simple manner.
DON’T FORGET TO DIGITALIZE THE DESCRIPTION
In today’s digitalised world, job descriptions tend to be written mainly for online audiences. If you are publishing your job description in a digital format, you’ll have some more options for displaying extra information, for instance, in the form of links and even video.
You also need to make sure to include social media links and options for social media engagement into your job description. For example, it is crucial to make your job description easily sharable on social media. This can guarantee your ad get as big audience as possible.
An online job description should also utilise keywords, and you should look into optimising your content for search engines. Search engine optimisation (SEO) can help you find the right audience much quicker, and it makes sure only the right kind of candidates view your job ad.
Make sure you focus on keywords that a potential candidate would be using. Focus on including keywords about the role, not so much about your business, as potential candidates will mainly be looking for a specific role not necessarily your business.
Among the most important keywords to use, is definitely the location. You want to make sure you attract candidates that are either able or willing to work in the specific location.
LOOK AT GREAT EXAMPLES
You shouldn’t ever copy paste another job description. This will immediately take away the personality aspect of your ad, and it might give your job description a generic feel.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn from the success stories. It is a good idea to see what your competitors have done or what other companies have written with similar position openings. You are able to learn a lot more about good job descriptions if you look around.
Here are a few links to great job descriptions that have successfully used the above concepts and methods.
Here are three examples of great job descriptions at LinkedIn.
A FINAL WORD
The bad news is that majority of job descriptions turn out to be simply boring. But on the more positive note, this can give you a chance for doing something different. Knowing majority of descriptions are uninspiring, you can easily make your business stand out in the crowd. But only if you are ready to invest the time and energy to write a great job description.
Keep in mind that your job description should essentially be all about outlining the advantages the right candidate will enjoy by working in your business. Make sure you sell the position for the right candidate, don’t just focus on descriptive language and praising words of your own business.
Writing a winning job description is by no means an easy feat. But if you make sure you treat your job description like a marketing ad, focus on the key concepts and make sure you include all the necessary information it is possible to ensure your mailbox is filled with quality applications.