Writing job descriptions

A job description is a candidate’s first look into your company. Because of this, your description should be compelling, informative and inviting.

The goal of a job description is to inspire the top candidates in your talent pool to apply to your open position. However, a lot more goes into creating a job description than simply listing your vacancy.

Creating a perfect job description should assist in attracting talent, improving candidate experience, boosting your employer brand and speeding up your recruitment process. You can do this by performing a job analysis, optimising for SEO and mobilisation, selling your company culture and removing bias and discrimination. Keep reading for all of our tips and tricks on writing the perfect job description.

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Perform a Job Analysis

Before you can create the perfect job description, you must first take the time to fully understand the position that you are writing the description for. In order to do this, you should involve everyone who has contact with the position, such as the supervisor, the department manager and employees who are currently in that position or department.

According to Indeed, you should always have your job description reviewed by someone who has already worked in the position that you are hiring for. These employees have first hand knowledge about day-to-day life in this position; this means that they will know what skills and qualifications are necessary for success.

Perform a job analysisGathering expansive knowledge about your vacancy will help you create a more accurate candidate persona. Your candidate persona is a representation of your ideal new hire, with all the characteristics, skills and qualifications that would best fit the position.

It is essential to write a job description that targets this specific candidate, as it will help you stand out to qualified candidates while also narrowing down the number of irrelevant applications that you receive. According to a poll by DeVry University’s Career Advisory Board, only 17% of hiring managers say that all, or most, of job seekers have the necessary skills that they are looking for. Attracting the limited number of candidates that do have the necessary skills will help save you time sorting through hundreds of CVs.

Like this job description for a Full Time Sales Assistant on Indeed, your description should target your candidate persona with information that you gathered during your job analysis. This information should include:

  • Specific day-to-day tasks (“Using our POS system, managing customer enquiries & orders on a day-to-day basis, both by telephone and in person.”)
  • Required skills, qualifications or experience (“Retail experience is essential”)
  • Necessary soft skills (“The candidate must be creative, innovative and have a keen interest in working with customers in a busy retail environment.”)

 

Optimise for mobile and SEO

Optimise for mobile and SEO - IndeedAccording to research by Indeed, 78% of Millennials have used mobile devices to find jobs as of 2016. Many of these searches began with search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. Because of this, you need to optimise your description for a digital world.

Start with a straightforward, concise and easily searchable headline. This headline should clearly describe the position with language that a qualified candidate would search for and understand. In the example to the right, the first job posting is more effective than the second because the headline immediately explains the open position. More qualified candidates will search for and click on “Recruiter, Sales” than “Team Member” because they automatically know whether or not they have the skills or experience necessary for the title.

The body of your description should also be concise--according to Indeed, descriptions that range between 700 and 2,000 words receive up to 30% more applications--but there are more ways to optimise for mobile devices and search engines.

Optimise for mobile and SEO - Glassdoor

 

Make it skimmable by keeping paragraphs short, adding bullet points and including subheadings. If candidates are searching on the move, you want to make it easy for them to determine whether or not they are qualified enough to apply. In the example to the left, which was posted on Glassdoor, the company uses headers such as “Responsibilities” and “Desired Experience,” as well as snappy bullet lists and short paragraphs. This description also utilises multiple tabs in order to break up its information about the salary, location and benefits.

Consider the keywords that your ideal candidate will be searching for and naturally include them throughout the description’s body, headers and title. This will help your SEO, allowing more candidates to find you during a search. Find appropriate keywords with tools like BuzzSumo Keyword Tool or by examining competitor job postings. The description to the left includes keywords such as special purpose vehicles and client services that explain the job duties while also optimising the post for searches in this industry.

 

Sell Your Company

While job descriptions must explain job responsibilities in order to help a candidate determine whether or not they are qualified, they should also make your company sound compelling enough to inspire qualified candidates to apply. You want to ensure that your company stands out against competition, because you want top talent to choose you.

Sell your companyAccording to a Glassdoor survey, 76% of candidates want details about what makes your company an attractive place to work. What’s more, eye tracking research by TheLadders found that candidates spend around 30% of their time reading about the company itself when browsing a job description. Give candidates what they are looking for by showing your brand personality and exhibiting your company culture.

Start by putting key information at the top of your description in order to hook candidates right away. This information should include job title, location and salary, as well as a brief and welcoming paragraph about the role and the company. This description from Monster, for example, begins its post by clearly defining the job title, “Support .Net Developer,” then immediately follows with a section about the position's salary and working hours. 

Your description should also include a list of the benefits and features that make your company culture unique. This will give candidates a better idea about what it’s like to work for you, and it will set you apart from competitors. The example from Monster lists the company’s stand-out benefits, such as “22 days holiday” and “permanent health insurance” before even going into job responsibilities. This is an effective technique as job seekers spend an average of 49.7 seconds looking at a job description before dismissing it as a poor fit, and 76.7 seconds on a description that matched their interests and skills, according to theLadders research. Keep candidates’ attention for longer by highlighting the perks of applying.

 

Reduce Bias and Discrimination

We talked with Fiona Donnelly, CEO of Nexus Consulting, about unconscious hiring bias. According to Fiona, “It’s important in terms of employment equality, corporate ethics, inclusion and diversity, that we see beyond biases and we try to make the hiring process as impartial and objective as possible.” Watch the entire interview here.

Reduce bias and descriminationIn order to ensure that your description attracts qualified candidates, you must exclude any language or phrasing that would discourage certain people from applying. The simplest way to do this is by replacing the phrase “ideal candidate” with “you.” This is a direct and personal way of addressing the candidate, and it can apply to any candidate. In this example from Glassdoor, the company frequently addresses “you” with phrases such as “You might guess” and “What you'll do.”

You should also avoid any exclusive language, whether it excludes people from specific genders, ethnicities, age groups or education levels. Huppert recommends eliminating gender-coded words such as “ninja” and unnecessary corporate speak or jargon. You should also keep your requirements to just the must-haves or deal-breakers, as asking for over 10 years of experience will exclude younger candidates. Additionally, a Hewlett Packard internal report found that men are likely to apply to jobs for which they only meet 60% of the requirements, while women won’t apply unless they meet a full 100%.

The description above uses inclusive and gender-neutral language throughout the entire post. When describing the role, they mention that they call their kitchen team "Pizzaiolos." This name is inclusive of all genders, ethnicities and age groups, and it helps the company avoid using any exclusionary pronouns. The responsibilities and required experience are also kept to a minimum, with the company instead focusing on training opportunities. This welcomes a variety of candidates to apply.


A good job description may be the factor that either encourages top talent to apply to your company, or sends them on the next company’s posting. Keep your ideal candidates interested and excited by designing your description around a candidate persona, making it mobile and search engine friendly, selling your unique benefits, and including all qualified job seekers.

Once you’ve perfected your job description, BidRecruit is here to do the rest. Our recruitment software helps you post your description to 16+ job channels, and our A.I. technology adds screening questions as well as helps you sort through CVs and schedule interviews. Your recruitment just got easier, faster and smarter thanks to BidRecruit!

Visit our website at www.bidrecruit.io to get started for free today, and subscribe below to get more of our recruitment trends, tips and tricks sent straight to your inbox.

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