n July 2022, there were 11.2 million job openings in the United States. August saw an additional 315,000 new jobs being added to this roster. These figures are a testament to the wide variety of job opportunities available to job seekers today.
As a hiring manager, crafting a stellar job description is a stepping stone towards attracting great candidates to your company’s job vacancies over those posted by the competition. However, job descriptions created using outdated job posting strategies don’t do justice to the vacant position and often end up misinforming or driving away good candidates.
An unbiased, optimized job description will not only improve your recruitment efforts but also ensure that top candidates apply for the role. It should include organizational priorities, required skills, duties and responsibilities, and salary range.
In this article, we’ll highlight the importance of job descriptions and show you how to write effective ones. We’ll also offer some tips on accelerating the recruitment process, which will help you create job descriptions that attract a wide range of candidates.
Why are job descriptions important?
Job descriptions are the first point of contact between you and your prospective employee. A well-written job description eloquently communicates your company’s needs to candidates, painting a realistic picture of the role. It helps candidates assess whether their background matches the job profile, making the hiring manager's recruitment process easier.
Attract the right candidates
You can attract the right candidates for the role with a succinct and accurate job description. If the job description clearly states what qualifications, experience, and skills are expected of the candidates, only the ones whose profiles match these criteria will apply, which will help hiring managers filter out unsuitable prospects much more quickly.
If your job description is poorly written, whether verbose or too sparse, most job seekers will not continue with the application process. Not conveying the job profile accurately can cost your company high-quality talent.
A well-constructed job description will help set the right expectations for all candidates. Only prospects that understand your company’s requirements will apply, which helps ease both the hiring and onboarding processes.
Let’s say you're hiring a software engineer. Your job description only mentions the qualifications you prefer but does not detail the daily responsibilities of the role. You hire someone with the right educational qualifications, but during the role-specific training process, they realize that they can’t envision themselves taking on the role's daily responsibilities, so they quit. Such occurrences waste not only the hiring manager’s time but also the company’s resources. Writing a detailed job description that sets the right expectations can help avoid such situations.
Prepare for the interview
The interview is perhaps the most important part of the recruitment process. During the interview, the hiring manager and recruitment team have the opportunity to assess the candidate, and the candidate gets a chance to understand the job requirements in depth.
A job description can help both your team and the candidate prepare for the interview process. The candidate will be in a better position to answer any questions you have about the relevance of their professional experience if they understand the requirements of the role from the job description.
For instance, if you're looking for a UX designer, and your job description mentions the design tools your firm uses, the candidate will be aware of the software they should be familiar with and come prepared for the interview. By mentioning the tools you use beforehand in the job description itself, you and your hiring team can ask specific questions about the software to assess candidates’ knowledge and filter out those that are better suited for the role.
Simplify the talent search
As a hiring manager, your aim is to ensure that your company has access to a top-notch talent pool, so you try to recruit as many candidates as possible, regardless of whether they are actively looking for a job.
Most candidates are passive job seekers. A well-drafted job description that includes salary, benefits, and other perks can help you grab the attention of such passive prospects, inviting them to apply. In this way, you’ll get a wider range of applicants, making it easier to find the right fit for the role.
How do you write a job description?
The key to writing a successful job description is including the necessary details. A well-written and comprehensive job description will prompt more candidates to apply for the position.
An effective job description contains the following components:
Duties and responsibilities
Your job title should be as concise as possible. Most desktop and mobile browsers display the first 50 to 60 characters of a title tag. If your title is under 60 characters, it’s more likely to be properly displayed in the SERPs.
You should make the job title both short and specific. A targeted and succinct job title will always grab job seekers’ attention more than a generic one.
For example, if you're looking for a graphic designer specializing in brand or visual identity, mention “Visual Identity Graphic Designer” as the title of your job description instead of just “Graphic Designer.”
A job summary should provide an overview of the role and highlight your expectations for the position. After summing up the position in 2 to 3 lines, you should also mention how it adds value to your company and brand.
To help your company stand out, you can also touch upon any benefits and perks that might get prospective candidates to choose you over your competitors.
Duties and Responsibilities
In the duties and responsibilities section of the job description, you should expand on the information in the job summary. While the job summary gives a bird’s eye view of the position, the duties and responsibilities component gives a detailed description of the tasks assigned to the role.
You can start by outlining the main responsibilities that the position entails, then describe the daily activities and tasks of the role in detail. It’s best to use bullet points as they make the duties and responsibilities section easier to review. Bullets communicate information effectively by drawing attention to important content that might otherwise get lost in a long description.
You can divide the required qualifications component into three sections: education, experience, and skills. The education section should cover the educational qualifications that your ideal candidate should possess. It can include a list of degrees or certifications as well as areas of study. For instance, the educational requirements for a user experience writer’s role at Google are “Bachelor's degree in English, Communications, Journalism, Technical Writing, UX, HCI, or equivalent practical experience.”
In terms of experience, identify what the role requires and include the minimum number of years you expect the candidate to have worked full-time, as well as the type of work experience you prefer they have. For instance, Microsoft’s Business Manager, Operations Finance position requires candidates to have “2+ years work experience in program management, process management, process improvement, or equivalent experience.”
The skills component can include anything else necessary for the candidate to succeed in fulfilling their duties and responsibilities, such as technical or language skills. Make this section as comprehensive as possible by including areas of expertise as well as working knowledge that you expect the candidate to have.
A 2021 study has shown that getting a competitive salary is one of job seekers’ top motivations. If you want to expand your candidate pool, include the salary range in your job description, regardless of whether your competitors do so.
Disclosing the remuneration structure in your job description improves transparency and cultivates trust between you and the candidate. It also dissuades candidates whose salary expectations are outside your range from applying, which saves your company time and money.
Tips for writing an effective job description
Writing a successful job description that draws diverse and qualified candidates takes practice. Here are a few tips to help you with the process of writing job descriptions:
Keep it short: The key to getting more applicants is keeping the job description brief. While there is no magic number of words that is optimal, try to write job descriptions that are between 300 and 700 words. If your description is too lengthy, you run the risk of losing candidates before they read the entire text, so it’s best to ensure that you convey all the necessary information in under 700 words.
On the other hand, a job description cannot be too short - it’s not an employment ad. It needs to be long enough to adequately highlight the functions and responsibilities of a job.
Pay attention to the language: A job description should use straightforward and simple language. Avoid jargon that candidates might find difficult to understand. It’s also important to be to the point for greater readability and clarity.
Remember to avoid gendered and biased language. Instead, actively use inclusive language when writing a job description.
Use a clear format: For an easy-to-read job description, use bullet points for the duties and responsibilities and required skills sections. Bullets help draw readers’ eyes to important content and capture their attention.
Ensure that your job description is easy to view on multiple devices like desktops, phones, and tablets. Use a font that improves readability for people with learning disabilities. Helvetica, Courier, Arial, Verdana, Sans-serif, and Roman are good options.
Maintain a positive tone: Using a positive and friendly tone in the job description will help you persuade more candidates to apply for the position. Replace negative or demanding words with positive and encouraging words. For instance, instead of writing “must-have,” consider writing “good to have” if that particular trait, experience, or qualification is not a strict requirement.