Last Updated on 6 months by The Mintly Team
Crafting a job description that attracts quality candidates is tricky. In this article, we have analyzed the way millions of job seekers interact with job posts on LinkedIn, the best free job posting site for employers, and provided some powerful tactics to help one write stronger job descriptions.
Finding the right talent starts with defining the right candidate. The job descriptions that you post for open positions in your municipal administration will impact the quality of the applicants you receive. The more qualified the applicants, the better opportunity you will have to add the right member to your team who is able to make an immediate impact.
Know the difference between a Job posting and a Job description
- One of the fundamental mistakes many employers make is to simply pull up the job description – that document used to define the position internal to the organization and for performance appraisals – and post it online.
A job description includes a detailed list of all the responsibilities and requirements for success in a particular position. For example, “make 25-40 cold calls per week” and “meet with 5-10 customers per week” are phrases you might see in a job description.
- In comparison, a job posting is a marketing tool that should paint a picture of what it’s like to work for your company in the role you’re filling.
For instance, “You’ll call on our C-suite-level clients to explain our new supply chain technology” would be more appropriate wording for a job posting.
- A job description tends to be a dry recitation of responsibilities. A job posting needs to excite someone about your company and entice them to apply for your open position.
When writing effective job descriptions, keep the following five best practices in mind:
TIP 1 – Keep it Concise and Professional
Many people look at job descriptions on their phones. That could explain why job posts with fewer than 150 words can get candidates to apply 17.8% more frequently than job posts with 450 to 600 words.
Use Clear, Concise Language to Describe Job Responsibilities
- Clearly defining the responsibilities of the anticipated hire will help the candidate envision themselves in the role.
- Use present tense and keep statements short and concise.
- Utilize formatting features like bulleted lists to keep the layout clean.
- Finally, when including descriptions of recurring tasks, including the frequency.
Use Adjectives Wisely
- The adjectives that you use in your job description will help set an expectation for the quality of work to be provided.
- Use adjectives to describe the work environment as well. This will help applicants to consider if they have the ability and desire to meet the needs of the hiring department and manager.
- Try using adjectives in association with specific responsibilities to emphasize the quality of the work to be performed. Such distinctions set an expectation for what is required of the ideal candidate.
E.g. – Rather than simply describing the candidate as a “fast learner,” qualify that descriptor by clarifying that the ideal candidate must have the “ability to quickly learn policies and procedures.”
Eliminate Acronyms and Abbreviations
- With few exceptions, it’s a good idea to avoid acronyms and abbreviations in your job postings.
E.g., Your company’s internal acronyms will likely have no meaning to outsiders and should be avoided. For instance, “M&A” may mean “mergers and acquisitions” to you, but it could mean “marketing and advertising” or “managers and associates” to someone else.
- Even industry acronyms and abbreviations should be minimized to improve readability and search results. One of the few exceptions to this rule of thumb is “IT,” as it’s an acronym that is widely known and understood.
Say, for example, you’re seeking someone with Sarbanes-Oxley experience and only use the abbreviation “SOX” in your job posting. You’re assuming that every applicant with Sarbanes-Oxley experience will type in “SOX” when searching for job listings. Job seekers who search for “Sarbanes” or “Sarbanes-Oxley” won’t find your job posting.
- Abbreviations don’t mean your listing won’t be posted, or that it won’t be searchable. But it will be more difficult for prospective applicants to find you. This can hurt your chances of landing the most qualified candidate.
Avoid jargon, buzzwords, legalese, clichés and slang
- Particularly if you’re hiring for a job that you don’t fully understand, it can be easy to rely on jargon and clichés. However, job postings full of unnecessarily complex, ambiguous, or informal language are a turn-off to potential employees.
- Buzzwords such as “self-starter,” “leverage,” “execution,” “outstanding growth potential” and “viral” do little to explain the position or what a candidate’s life will be like if they work for your company.
- Clichés and slang may also carry unintended connotations or have different meanings to different people. For instance, “fast-paced” may be interpreted as “too much work for too few people.” “Be your own boss” may sound to candidates like their supervisor will never have time for them.
- And job seekers’ expectations of what “highly motivated” means may be vastly different from your own.
TIP 2 – Let candidates know what’s in it for them
Candidates may spend only a few seconds reading your job description, so make sure you cut to the chase. Details like compensation and qualifications were consistently highlighted as the most helpful part of a job description.
Stick to traditional job titles
Some companies create job titles intended to be fun, or that express disdain for tradition. If your business uses titles such as “marketing ninja” and “data guru” in online job postings, it may be at the expense of finding qualified candidates.
Using these types of whimsical job titles may lighten the mood in the workplace. But job seekers will likely search using titles like “marketing director” or “strategic data manager,” which means your posting won’t appear on their search engine results page (SERP).
Unclear job titles are detrimental to SEO. Search engines and career listing websites use algorithms to help choose the most relevant search results. Use a traditional job title that prospective candidates understand and can find when they conduct a search.
Include an Overview of the Position
Start your job description with a clear and concise definition of the primary functions and goals of the position. Be sure to include the required tasks involved, the methods expected to be used to complete those tasks, and the interactions that the position will have with other departments and key stakeholders.
For example, the administrative leaders of Midland, MI begin job descriptions with an overview of the position that helps define the expectations for the ideal candidate. Also, be sure to list the necessary qualifications. I
Proofread for spelling, grammar, and unintentional bias
- Typos and unclear job descriptions will scare away applicants and can harm your company’s reputation. Would you apply for a job opening seeking someone “capable of ruining an office?”
- Spelling and grammar mistakes discredit your company, decrease the readability of your job postings, and make it difficult for your position to appear in a search.
- Your job postings should also avoid words that telegraph bias. Use “job candidate” rather than “he” or “she” – and “leader” or “chairperson” rather than “chairman.”
- Job postings with too many mistakes could be seen as fraudulent and can hurt your brand. Have at least one person in your office proofread your job posting before you make it public.
TIP 3 – Sell your company’s culture and mission but don’t spend too much time talking up your company
- If your job posting is too stuffy or formal, candidates will question your company culture. They may believe it’s a reflection of their future work experience, should they decide to work for you (and be hired).
- It’s equally important to have a strong web presence – and that your job posting and website both accurately reflect your company culture and mission. If you pass the first inspection with a brief, engaging job posting, you must be ready for your candidates’ next move – a visit to your website and social media profiles.
- For many candidates, these are major red flags. If you haven’t put in the resources to have a modern website or update your social channels, candidates may assume you won’t invest in their success either.
- Candidates care about your company; it’s just not what they’re looking for in a job description. They rated company, culture, and mission as less important, rarely highlighting them as helpful.
- Stand out from the crowd by providing specific metrics that your candidates should hit after one year on the job. This can set up expectations and reflect positively on your company.
Include Salary and Benefit Information
Provide a salary range instead of a specific dollar amount to allow for some flexibility. Also provide an overview of the benefits like medical, dental, and vision coverage, as well as more intangible benefits such as a positive work environment and an opportunity to improve one’s community.
TIP 4 – Use gender-neutral terms to encourage gender diversity
Men applied to the jobs that they viewed 13% more often than women. Job descriptions with “masculine” wording can turn away qualified prospects. Using gender-neutral language encourages a more diverse pool of applicants.
Use gender-neutral phrases, or refer to the new hire using “he/she.” Also, avoid vague terms that may make a task seem optional or open to interpretation (e.g.: “May be responsible for occasional payroll duties”).
TIP 5 – Get your job post out there early in the week
When it comes to posting jobs, earlier in the week is better. Most candidates apply on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday – with just 15% coming in over the weekend.
Knowing how to write great job postings is just one of many strategies for attracting and retaining top talent. Learn more by following our blogs on Mintly, a hiring marketplace for jewelry, gems, and the precious metals industry. You can post the Jobs here. Mintly offers Free Job Posting for Small Businesses.