14 Secrets Behind Writing a Compelling Job Description

By Guest blogger - Jul. 20, 2015
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Editors Note: This is a guest post written by Skornia Alison – a social media analyst with Essay Valley. Her opinions are her own.

Thankfully, employment is on the rise. More jobs are being created giving job seekers more opportunities to choose from. However what this means for employers is potentially a lot more effort in order to lure the best talent into their organisation.

One of the most important decision making factors for any job seeker is the job description.

It’s not uncommon for an employer to know that they definitely need to bring somebody new into their business, but to not have carefully thought out exactly what it is that the new team member would be doing.

This is a dangerous way to start.

There is no question that every candidate expects to see a job description if they are even going to consider a career move. If you are planning to recruit yourself, what sort of impression are you creating if you can’t even provide a potential new employee with a description of the job you are hoping they will do for you?

So how can you write a job description that attracts the best candidates?

Here’s our list of dos and don’ts that you need to keep in mind if you want to write a compelling job description.

Free Guide: This article outlines how to write a job description that is clear, concise and accurately defines the role – in 5 simple steps. Download Now!

1. Include an introduction

Try to accurately describe the job in a few sentences. You don’t want to be discrete here or use overly fancy terms just to lure potential candidates. The more accurate the description, the stronger the impact and the likelihood that the position will resonate with the right candidates.

2. Highlight “must haves”

These are going to be the most important requirements for the job at hand. If your ideal candidate must possess a certain qualification or have a specific number of years of experience in a certain field, make that clear. It is also important to keep the ‘must haves’ separate from ‘favourable’ or ‘preferred’ skills, competencies or experience.

3. Use an impersonal tone

Focus on facts, not opinions. When crafting a job description you want to sound impersonal and indifferent towards the position. Any biases present will seem unprofessional and are going to repel prospective candidates from even considering the position.

4. Use action words

Try to use as many verbs as possible when outlining the duties and responsibilities the successful candidate will be expected to take on. For example, co-ordinate, facilitate, reconcile, produce and advocate are all effective action words. Also try to include phrases that explain when, where, and how the duties will be expected to be performed.

5. Include employment terms

Make sure you clearly mention the terms of employment including whether or not it is a full-time position or a part-time role. Also mention whether the successful candidate will be expected to commence in a temporary capacity before moving into the permanent role, or if there is a fixed salary or an hourly rate.

6. Include specific benefits of joining the organisation

Apart from the job title and description, don’t hesitate to include why the potential candidate should join your company. You can include a few sentences on the company history, culture, and environment. You can try to create a picture by demonstrating to your candidates what it is really like to work in your organisation.

7. Mention location or potential relocation

Location and travel is an extremely important contributing factor for any prospective candidate deciding on whether they will consider a new opportunity. Be clear and succinct about the location, any relocation package that would be offered to the ideal candidate, or any tele-commuting opportunity.

8. Don’t refer to people by name

Never include anybody’s name in a position description. For instance, instead of writing “reporting to John Monaghan in Ops”, you should write, “Reporting to the Assistant Manager of Operations”.

9. Avoid using company jargon

Company jargon should always remain within the company. Even if the jargon is considered to be ‘industry’ jargon, try not to include it just to be very clear. Also avoid using acronyms, abbreviations, or other vague terms.

10. Never inflate the requirements of the job

The minimum requirements of the role should be clearly stated without any exaggeration. You may want to attract superior candidates by including a set of preferred qualifications and skills. Just make sure these are clearly labeled under preferred skills as opposed to required skills or qualifications. You never want to mislead your candidates.

11. Remember any employment legislation

Every country, state, or province has certain anti-discrimination legislation around age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, physical impairment etc. Ensure you adhere to this in any job description. You must also state whether or not reasonable accommodation will be provided to people with disabilities in order to perform the basic functions required in the role.

12. Try not to make it overly complex

Try to keep the language and sentence structure as clean and simple as possible. Don’t go overboard with technical terms which perhaps not every applicant would be familiar with.

13. Don’t include too many must-haves

Avoid overwhelming potential candidates with a long list of “must-haves” all of which are not completely  necessary to perform the job. It’s OK to include the most essential requirements, but don’t get carried away with these or you might end up driving talent away rather than attracting them. For example, a long list of 10 different requirements is not advisable. Instead, try to include only 5 or 6 critical qualifications or skills needed for to perform the job.

14. There’s no need to include minor tasks

It’s best to avoid including minor tasks that may only be performed occasionally. If they are not specific to the job at hand, they needn’t form part of the job description.

Skornia Alison works as a social media analyst for UK-based Essay Valley. She’s into exploring and analysing the trends and techniques around how digital social connectivity can be best put to use in diverse markets.


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