What’s the secret to writing a job description that gets the right candidates to apply?
If you’ve ever posted a job description, got flooded with applications, but few seemed like a good fit, you’re not alone.
It happens. There are lots of reasons for this. And it can start with your job description.
So how do you write a job description that attracts high-quality candidates?
Follow these seven steps.
7 Steps to Writing a Job Description That Attracts Candidates
1. Write a job description title with a hook
There’s nothing wrong with writing a job description with the title of the position you’re trying to fill.
It makes sense. It’s how people search for work online.
- Here’s an example: I’m looking for work as a graphic designer. Let’s see who’s hiring.
The job seeker picks their favorite job board and searches for “graphic designer” or whatever position they’re trying to land. And the typical search results look like this:
- Graphic designer wanted
- Hiring a graphic designer
- Graphic designer needed ASAP
If you want to stand out, write a title for your job description with a creative or interesting hook, like this:
- Graphic designer + creative genius wanted
- Graphic designer + coffee aficionado wanted
- Hiring a graphic designer with MAD skills
- Chill graphic designer wanted
When your position shows up in a candidate’s search results, guess which job description they’re going to check out first?
2. Keep candidates engaged with a creative and conversational job description
There’s no rulebook that says your job description has to read like it’s from a human resources manual, legal scholar or academic.
But that’s how a lot of job descriptions sound.
And that’s kind of a problem because your job description is often the first point of contact for a potential candidate.
It’s your opportunity to make a good first impression.
Be creative. Be conversational. Give your job description a little bit of flavor for what it's like to work for your organization, NOT just a list of duties and responsibilities.
3. Emphasize the most important skills
Whenever a potential candidate reads a job description, their internal filter starts firing:
- Am I qualified for this position?
- Does my education, training, and experience meet the requirements?
- Do I have the right skills to do this job?
If you overwhelm the candidate with an exhaustive list of skills and qualifications required for the job, there’s a pretty good chance some well-qualified candidates will simply move on.
When you write a job description, emphasize the MOST IMPORTANT skills for the position...not all of them.
It’s a smart way to get qualified candidates to apply, book an interview, and find out if they’re the right fit.
4. Show off your company brand and style
Besides the basics like salary, benefits, and hours, there is one other question candidates ALWAYS want to know…
- What’s it like to work there?
They’ll go to great lengths to find answers to this question. They’ll ask employees, read reviews, study your company website. Ask questions in online forums to try and get answers.
You can alleviate some of that worry, concern, and curiosity, by writing a job description that reflects your company’s brand and style. For example:
- If you’re an all-business, formal, dressed to the nines, 9-5 kind of place, put that in your job description.
- If your company has more of a laid-back environment with flex time, casual dress, and catered lunch every Friday, put that in your job description.
Make a good first impression in your job description, and you’ll give candidates a nudge to apply thinking…“That sounds like a great place to work.”
5. Address diversity
You don’t have to look far to know diversity is a hot topic.
It’s easy to get sucked into creating a stereotype for the position you need to fill, based on who’s filled those positions in the past.
But the truth is, qualified candidates are everywhere. And your job description should address the diversity issue so you don’t miss out on connecting with talented people.
6. Share your biggest wins
Here’s another great way to help your job description stand out to candidates…
- Share your biggest wins.
Maybe that sounds like bragging to you, but it’s not.
If your organization has won an award, been named to a Top 10 list, completed a successful launch, just got infused with investor funding, or anything else, you’ve earned it.
Mention your biggest wins when you write a job description. It’s one more way to nudge a candidate to apply and feel good when you contact them to book an interview.
7. Put your team on display
Just about every job requires working with a team. And that’s a sticking point for some potential candidates. They’re thinking about applying for your open position, but questions about this keep coming up...
- What’s my supervisor or manager like?
- What are my co-workers like?
- Will I have anything in common with them?
- Are they all work and no play, or do they like to have fun, too?
You can answer these questions in a job description by sharing a bit of information about the team and the manager the candidate will be working with.
FYI...show off their personality, a day-in-the-life, or something else unique or interesting to let potential candidates know what their work-family or home-away-from-home is going to be like.
Write job descriptions that get noticed
Cover the basics in a job description...salary, hours, benefits, primary qualifications, and duties. That’s all business, and it’s important to convey this in a job description. But candidates want to know more than that. So give it to them, and you’ll attract more qualified candidates.
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