How to write better job descriptions

How To Write Better Job Descriptions

The "if you build it, he will come" mantra may have worked for Kevin Costner in "Field of Dreams," but, as many hiring managers know, drawing in unique, quality talent can be more difficult than attracting ghosts of great baseball legends.

Check out the following tips for how to write a job posting.

Choose relevant job titles and keywords

While advertising for a "Sales Rock Star" or "Software Ninja" may seem like a fun way to make your job posting stand out, it's actually more likely to get buried in organic searches. Most job seekers aren't going to be searching for whatever creative job title you've come up with, so your posting won't appear in their search results. Optimize your job titles for search, and save the fun, creative stuff for the description. The right keywords will also optimize your job posting for search engines like Google.

Make your ad easy on the eye

Fun or unusual job titles don't do much to draw job seeker attention, but that doesn't mean there aren't ways to attract those eyeballs. Branded job postings tend to get more attention, and postings that include a recruitment video do even better. Job seekers are looking for just about anything other than long blocks of text so make sure to present things like job requirements, desired skills, and benefits in the form of bulleted lists.

Set clear expectations

Don't waste your time and the time (and goodwill) of job seekers - be upfront about potential deal-breakers (such as significant travel time or expected overtime) and success factors. Setting clear expectations with candidates from the beginning will get a better fit in the end.

Cut out the fat

Attention is a precious thing in this day and age. The average job seeker spends less than 30 seconds reviewing a job posting. Candidates must understand the role and expectations surrounding it, but brevity is essential to capturing their attention. Keep the content of your job posting brief and relevant by highlighting only the most important and unique pieces of information.

Employ the "real estate rule"

By now, you might be frustrated — you're reading to include all relevant information while keeping it as brief as possible. While the two ideas may seem slightly at odds with one another, they are not mutually exclusive.

With so much to say in such limited space, location of text is everything in your ad. Put the most important information at the top of the ad, followed by pertinent details about the role itself. The most engaging and interesting content should fall above the fold to capture candidates' attention and compel them to read further.

Keep the content of your job posting brief and relevant by highlighting only the most important and unique pieces of information.

Include your location

Possibly the most critical factor in job seekers' minds — behind perhaps only salary and benefits — is the job location. For many candidates, it's a deal-breaker, so let them know where the job is located right away. However, if you're willing to let them work remotely or offer work-from-home days, be sure to mention that, as it could influence their decision.

Don't ignore compensation

It should come as no surprise that salary plays a significant role in a candidate's decision to accept a job offer or even apply. If you know you offer competitive compensation, say so. If you don't, talk about what you can offer instead — like benefits, employee perks, or company culture. Advancement opportunities, the chance to learn new skills or take on interesting projects, travel, and flexible schedules can go a long way in many candidates' minds.

Remember to sell

The most important step in creating a strong job posting is ensuring candidates can identify the job, where it is, and whether it's in their desired field. Once those basic facts are covered, it's time to sell them on the opportunity and the company. To write engaging verbiage for your ad, ask yourself these two questions:

  • What will candidates love about this job?
  • What do employees say they love about your company?

You'll be able to speak directly to your audience and get the right fit.

Don't try to be something you're not

A perfect fit for Dell or IBM might not necessarily be a good fit at your company and vice versa. Luckily, finding the right cultural fit is a big part of most candidates' job search process, so the work is already half done for you. By being honest about who you are as an employer and your company culture, you'll start seeing the wrong candidates weed themselves out, making suitable candidates much easier to spot.

Don't be afraid to ask for help

Creating an engaging job ad is not an easy task, and finding a balance of informational and engaging content is a challenge. After all, you have very little space to include a lot of information, and on top of that, you want it to be interesting and engaging for the reader. Learn more about all of CareerBuilder's recruiting solutions to help you optimize your job posting tactics.

Keep these tips on how to write a job posting in mind, and great candidates will start emerging from the proverbial cornfields in no time.

More information on job postings and best hiring practices:

Check out more suggestions on how to write job descriptions that stand out from the rest.

Get better results on job postings by making job postings mobile accessible and following more tips like this to attract the next generation of workers.

Ensure your recruitment strategy is effective by using employee referral programs to find ideal job candidates.


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