Writing job descriptions or (the new term) job ads, is a big part of a recruiter’s day. In fact, I have a candidate contact me recently about this article and point out specifically that the job advertisement or “req” was a huge reason why he would take (or not take) a new position.
His email got me to thinking. What elements need to be in a job description to make it attractive to candidates? Here are some tips to ensure that yours gets read and (hopefully) clicked on!
Start thinking of it as an advertisement. Get your mind away from the term “job description” and “job requirements.” Both sound antiquated and neither is very exciting. Even using the term “requirement” internally dampens any excitement in the position. When you call it an advertisement, you begin thinking of it as one and so do your hiring managers. Consider this opinion from industry leader Dave Martin:
The first two or three paragraphs of almost all job descriptions feel the same. This rapidly becomes noise to the job seeker, who soon learns to ignore them. Ask yourself: what actual value do your job description offer? Are the same buzzwords over used? Does the job description differentiate your role from all the other roles the job seeker is reading? Or is the entire copy noise?
Figure out the “must-haves” versus the “nice-to-haves.” This can be difficult when you have competing interests, but taking a gander at your current employees and what their skills were when you hired them can really help narrow the field. For instance, do you need people who are experienced with a specific skill and can hit the ground running? Or have you had better success training people to use your internal methods? Keep budget and your local market in mind, and your previous history. If you have a ton of applicants for every open position, you can afford to be more selective with your must-haves. If you are constantly searching for people, ensure that your list isn’t longer than five musts.
Consider your educational requirements critically. Look at nearly every white collar job at a mid-level on LinkedIn and you will see this:
“Bachelor Degree Required. MBA a plus.”
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Knock it off. There are some jobs that require advanced schooling. Most don’t. In fact, there are plenty of qualified people working their way through a bachelor’s degree who can absolutely do your organization some good. Ask yourself why you require the level of education you do. Test lowering your educational requirement or not putting it on the requirement altogether and see what happens. And there are very few companies who need a certain GPA.
Brush up on your copywriting skills. Think about the nature of a job advertisement. The goal is to entice someone to apply right? … Hopefully, the right someone so you don’t have to go to extreme measures or hire an external agency to find that right fit. So write it to entice! Don’t tell them, “30 percent of the job requires sitting, standing, or walking.” That is boring. Tell them something that will make your company and the job you are advertising stand out, like the fact that they won’t pass out from boredom because a third of their day will be spent “moving around our state of the art office.”
Lead with the lead. Sometimes you have to include certain verbiage in your job advertisements. Whether it’s the “About Company” blurb that the CEO insist upon or the certifications you have to require for your latest financial position, sometimes you can’t just leave out the boring things. But you can move them to the bottom right? Keep in mind some of the precepts on designing and writing for the Internet, whether it’s through the career site, a job board or portal, or a social network. Some quick tips:
- Get all pertinent info “above the fold.” In Internet terms, this is the headline and two paragraphs. It gets even smaller when you consider mobile. What’s pertinent? Title, responsibilities, compensation/benefits. Contact info is important, but if you’ve done your job, they’ll scroll to get that.
- Create a path or story. This is standard user experience treatment. Imagine a backwards “S.” Then, write or design so the reader’s eyes follow that path. This is especially helpful if you have pictures, call to action buttons, or other elements besides text.
- Call to action. Make very clear what the next step is and set expectations. “Please submit resume and cover letter for consideration” stinks! Instead try: “We knew you’d still be reading. Great. Click this link to email your recruiter Angela with your details. Sell us on you! If you’ve wowed us and we want to make you part of the team (or at least talk about it) you’ll hear from us in three weeks. And don’t wait. We want to meet you!” That tells the applicant a few things: what they need to do, who they are dealing with, and when they can expect to hear back.
As the market continues to shift and change, writing better job descriptions must shift as well. What’s the best job advertisement you’ve ever seen? Here’s ours. Leave yours in the comments!