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April 7, 2020
8 Actionable Tips For Writing Superb Job Descriptions

Like it or not, job descriptions are the frontline of your employer brand—and the #1 determiner of whether great candidates choose to apply. It’s the most important piece of content read by all of your prospective talent. That means they can’t be treated like info dumps or lengthy legal documents—even if those things are important later on in the process.

Here are eight tips for getting yours right.

1. Keep it short. 

Your job description should be just long enough to get the right people in the door. No exceptions. Give people just enough information to determine whether they would be right for the job. Most of the time this can be accomplished in 400 words or fewer. Concerned people won't get the full picture? Don't be. Every data point shows you lose qualified candidates when your job posting is too long.

2. Remove words you wouldn't use IRL like 'ninja'. 

Your job description should sound like someone is speaking to you in real life. Don't use words like ninja or wizard—they come off as corny and often drive gender bias. Remember, every piece of writing is like a one-way conversation. Speak how you would to another human being—without being overly informational or excessively spunky. That means no ninjas, wizards, team players, or rock stars.

3. Do research on titles before posting.

What’s the difference in search volume for terms like Office Assistant and Administrative Assistant? For the former, there were only 4,500 searches. For the latter, there were over 80,000. The lesson: The specific title of your position matters when it comes to reaching the right talent. So, even if it doesn’t match your specific internal title, go for the one that most frequently represents the role which you’re hiring for.

4. Ask hiring managers these questions.

Remember: you only want to include the most necessary and pertinent information. So, ask questions like these: What do the best [insert job title]s have in common? What makes your team stand out from other teams/companies you’ve worked on? What’s a deal-breaker on a resume? What’s something you always look for? These Qs will guide you through the process of making an effective, attractive job posting.

5. Search for top resumes—include what makes them special in your qualifications section.

If you perform a web search for “[insert job title] resumes,” you’ll find hundreds of examples of superb resumes for people in the position you’re looking for. (And if you don’t, that’s a hint to change the job title you’re using.) Pick the best traits the top resumes have in common and use those as a basis for your qualifications section. This might limit the total number of applicants—but it’ll ensure you get the best ones. Plus, their descriptions of the role can help you give writing ideas.

6. Come up with a basic structure for all of your job descriptions.

Having a baseline structure—like company overview, responsibilities, qualifications, and benefits—can help you ask the right questions and gather the most pertinent information. 90 percent of writing is research and preparation, so having a template is a way to ensure you’re doing that major task correctly. Of course, some jobs with different demands will require new sections, but a baseline is a powerful tool when it comes to preventing overly long JDs.

7. Talk about the things that matter to early-career candidates.

Job descriptions are content. And like every good content creator, you need to consider your audience. So, think about the preferences of Gen Z candidates—WayUp has extensive research available for download on this topic. For example: 71 percent of Gen Z applicants want to work somewhere that values diversity. 81 percent want opportunities to work abroad. When picking what info to include, consider your audience’s well-documented preferences.

8. Write a pitch line for each job.

Perhaps the most essential piece of every job description—from both an attraction and a clarity standpoint—is the basic pitch. Here’s a simple outline used by HR expert Katrina Kibben: As our [Job Title], you will help ______ do ______ so that they can __________. While the fundamentals of the sentence may change, you should be able to pitch the job as briefly as this, every time.

Need help writing job descriptions? Our experts can help.

For more information on how to write job descriptions that drive diversity, quality, and positive brand sentiment, get in contact with WayUp’s experts at employerbranding@wayup.com.

Sources: 

A Data-Driven Approach to Writing a Good Job Post, Katrina Kibben - Three Ears Media

Understanding Candidate Interview Preferences: From A To Gen Z, WayUp

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