How to Write a Killer Job Description
by Ryan Kohler
We’ve talked a lot about how to write jobs ads the “right” way by maximizing the job ad title while strategically placing keywords in the body, and finally, using language that appeals to your audience (aka job seekers), so it’s time that we discuss its counterpart since it’s one of the most misunderstood pre-employment mediums in the HR world – job descriptions. Sure, they seem harmless enough; after all, they’re everywhere and yet, outside of them ticking some legal boxes, they mean very little in the recruiting realms. Not capitalizing on the recruiting and hiring optimization potential of well-written job descriptions to attract qualified candidates is a huge mistake in my experience and it’s the primary drive for my post today. I’m going to walk you through a few key job description dos and don’ts.
Make the First Paragraph Count
Did you know that most applicants only read the first paragraph of your job description? You may be thinking so what and what does that have to do with me? Well, if you’re trying to draw stellar employees to you, then you shouldn’t just focus on trying to sell your job to candidates in the job ad, you want to elaborate and solidify their interest in the job description by including much of the pertinent information in the first paragraph.
Sell the Company Perks
If you’re trying to attract a certain caliber or personality to apply, then only include organization specifics/benefits that are sure to appeal to your target demographic. For instance, if your company uses lower salary in favor of flexible schedules, be sure to sell that in your job description. The same can be said for growth potential – if you promote from within and your future employees are likely to climb the career ladder fairly quickly, incorporate that incentive in your job description. Also, one of the best ways to really tap into selling your work climate is to ask your current employees what drew them to your company in the first place and what keeps them there.
Keep the Legal Speak to a Minimum
I know that this last point will be met with some resistance from HR folks, especially those of you that are heavily entrenched in compliance, but I’ve witnessed the detrimental effects of having a legally infused job description firsthand when my clients complain of not having a very large pool of applicants for their positions that include a 20 page legal dissertation. I always advise to save the legal description for later on in the hiring process or to include a separate link in the job description that will direct candidates to a more specific explanation of what the job duties entail. I know this approach may seem “dangerous,” but I can guarantee you that there are only a handful of applicants who actually read the entire description, and if you’re already using an intuitive hiring software like ApplicantPro. to create screening questions that strategically weed out unqualified applicants, this is a non-issue.
I’m sure you’re noticing a trend in all of my posts, and that is to maximize the number of applicants you have apply for your openings because this ensures that you have the most potential for finding that “diamond in the rough” employee. Encourage as many people to apply as possible and then rely on your applicant tracking system to filter that number down to those that are qualified with focused screening questions.
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