Are you hiring and looking to attract the best candidates? The key is to write a clear job description.
Do you have an open position in your company that you need to fill? If so, are you having trouble finding the right person for the job?
One of the first things most people do when looking for employment is to browse through listings on job boards. But many times, these postings don’t include all of the information about what this role entails. Job descriptions are too short, too long, or too complicated. And several companies attempt to be clever, which can downplay important tasks or confuse readers.
If you want to attract qualified candidates, it’s crucial to write an effective and thorough job description.
Why focus on job descriptions?
Writing a job description should be a simple task on your checklist. You sit down for 20-30 minutes, draft a quick list of requirements, and send it out to the world.
Poor job candidates or none at all can lengthen your hiring process. If you don’t have the right pre-qualifiers, you may find yourself sifting through an endless pile of resumes.
But this approach can end up coming to haunt you. Poor job candidates or none at all can lengthen your hiring process. If you don’t have the right pre-qualifiers, you may find yourself sifting through an endless pile of resumes.
A clear, well-defined, and specific job description can save you a headache. The right job description for your vacancy will set expectations, attract the right candidate, and save you time.
What should you include in a job description?
So what should you include in your job description, and when is it actually enough?
Just as you don’t want to write copy pages for a single vacancy, job candidates won’t want to read it. In fact, job candidates often apply to so many positions in one sitting, it’s likely they won’t read your description. Not only that, but at least half of currently employed individuals are job searching. So many of your candidates are applying while holding down a full-time job. They will avoid it altogether, or you’ll get automated submissions from people who aren’t qualified.
How long should it be?
Ideally, your description should be between 300 and 600 words. The shorter, the better. You’ll also want to keep sentences snappy and easy to read, and use bullets when applicable. More likely than not, your potential candidate will be reading the job description on a screen. So make it easy for them to find out if they qualify or not.
The anatomy of a solid job description
Next, you’ll need to decide what to include in your job description. Generally, you’ll want to include:
- The specific job title. You’ll want to define this role as much as possible. Instead of marketing manager, you can use digital marketing manager or content marketing, for example.
- Role summary. This should be a 3 to 5 sentence summary of the role and your expectations. Here you can flesh out essential qualities you are looking for and how your new hire will be integrated with the team.
- Job function. To give your candidates clear expectations for what they will be responsible for, you’ll want to add a list of up to 10 regular tasks.
- Must-have skills. In this list, you’ll want to list which skills are absolutely mandatory for job success.
- Preferred skills. The preferred skills list is a nice-to-have qualifier. None of the items on this list should be a hard rule, but it can help you better qualify as a good fit.
- Work environment. Here, you’ll want to have a brief, 2 to 3 sentence description of workplace expectations. This can include remote work, working conditions, and expected working hours.
- Salary and benefits. Finally, you’ll want to have a brief list of 5 items that list the salary range, benefits, and other perks that would appeal to your ideal candidate.
- Call to action. Just before the end, ask your candidates to apply and give them a button, email, or link to the necessary platform.
- Potential disclaimers. At the very end of your job description, take a sentence or 2 to add disclaimers. This section should include the equal opportunity employer statement and add that employees may be asked to perform tasks not listed in this description.
Should you include a salary in the job description?
A big question that most employers have is whether adding a salary to the job description is useful. However, 61% of candidates believe that salary is the most important element of a job, and this heatmap shows that salary ranges are the most reviewed aspect of any job description.
61% of candidates believe that salary is the most important element of a job, and this heatmap shows that salary ranges are the most reviewed aspect of any job description.
Adding the expected salary range to your description will likely not only improve your talent pool but will also appeal to candidates who value transparency and clarity.
Writing an ADA-compliant job description
While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require you to write and maintain records of job descriptions, writing your job functions section with disabilities in mind will help ensure that you find the perfect candidate. The purpose of writing ADA-friendly requirements is not to disqualify those with disabilities but to ensure that an individual can perform key tasks.
With that in mind, you may want to change out specific words that may disqualify or discourage certain applicants. For example, use:
- Stationary position instead of sit
- Move instead of walk
- Communicate instead than talk or hear
- Transport instead of lift
These simple substitutions will convey that your company is inclusive while making it easy to understand what is required.