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, qualified and relevant talent is a little more difficult to attract than ghosts of great baseball legends. Check out the following tips from our experts for writing more effective job postings:

  1. 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 just won’t appear in their search results. Optimize your job titles for search, and save the fun, creative stuff for the description itself. The right keywords will also serve to optimize your job posting for search engines like Google.
  2. Make your ad easy to look at. 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. For example, branded job postings tend to get more attention, and postings that include a recruitment video do even better still. Simply put, 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.
  3. Set clear expectations. Playing coy does nothing but waste your time and the time (and goodwill) of job seekers. Be upfront about potential deal-breakers (such as significant travel time or potential overtime hours) as well as success factors. After all, hiring successful people is much easier when everyone involved understands what success in that particular role looks like. Setting clear expectations with candidates from the beginning will get a better fit in the end.
  4. Cut out the fat. Attention is a precious thing in this day and age. The average job seeker spends fewer than 30 seconds reviewing a job posting. It is crucial for candidates to understand the role and expectations surrounding it, but brevity is key to capturing their attention. Keep the content of your job posting brief and to-the-point by highlighting only the most important and unique pieces of information.
  5. Employ the “real estate rule.” By now you might be frustrated – we’ve basically told you 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 actually 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.
  6. Include your location. Possibly the most important factor in job seekers’ minds – behind perhaps only salary and benefits – is the location of a job. For many candidates, it’s a deal-breaker. So, if you don’t want to waste time and effort chasing candidates who simply cannot or will not be able to make the necessary commute, be sure to 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 (and give it appropriately visible textual real estate), as that could sway their decision.
  7. Don’t ignore compensation. It should come as no surprise that salary plays a major role in a candidate’s decision to accept a job offer or even apply. So, if you know you offer competitive compensation, say so. If you don’t, talk about what you can offer instead – things like benefits, employee perks or company culture. Advancement opportunities, the chance to learn new skills, take on interesting projects, travel and flexible schedules can go a long way in many candidates’ minds.
  8. Don’t forget to sell. The most important step in creating a strong job postings is making sure candidates can identify what the job is, 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 two questions: “What will candidates love about this job?” and “What do employees say they love about your company?” You’ll be able to speak to your audience and get the right fit.
  9. 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 as well – so the work is already half done for you. By just being honest about who you are as an employer and what your company culture is like, you’ll start seeing the wrong candidates weed themselves out, making the right candidates that much easier to spot.
  10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Creating an engaging job ad is not an easy task: Finding a balance of content that is both informational and engaging is a challenge. After all, you have very little space in which 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 in mind, and great candidates will start emerging from the proverbial cornfields in no time.

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