How to write a job description that works

How to write appealing job descriptions

In today’s hyper-competitive job market, knowing how to write a job description that attracts the right candidates is the first step to successful hiring. The second step is keeping those job descriptions updated for all your current employees.

It may seem obvious, but in this fast-paced hiring environment, it is easy to get a little lax when it comes to promoting your open positions. But, without clear, up-to-date, and attractive job descriptions, you run the risk of losing out on the best candidates.

Below are helpful tips for writing effective job descriptions that will attract candidates, and keep you competitive in the hiring race. Plus, we include ways to keep your job descriptions up to date (even when you are busy).

How to write a job description

1. Be clear and concise about the position. It’s time to drop the jargon. There is no better way to confuse or frustrate a potential candidate than by using a string of words that ultimately make no sense at all. Yes, it’s fun to say things like “rock star,” but does anybody know what that means? Consider how candidates are going to perceive your company and the position when writing the job description.

Bottom line: clearly explain the position, as well as duties and experience needed to be successful without the fluff. This will not only help potential candidates when assessing whether or not to apply, but it will also save you time by not having to weed through unfit applications.

Not sure if your job description is clear enough? Have a coworker from a different department read it. If they can understand what you are looking for, then you are good to go.

2. Be transparent about the position. This is a follow-up to tip #1. Make sure all requirements are spelled out clearly and that the duties for the position make sense. Include information about the location of the position: is it in an office, remote, or a hybrid? Make sure potential candidates have all the necessary information upfront to know whether they should apply or not.

Don’t forget to include perks the candidate may enjoy, such as gym membership, parking stipend, etc.

3. Sell your organization. With so many open roles out there, you need your job description to stand out. One way you can do that is by selling your company to capture the attention of applicants.

What makes your organization stand out? A generic “About Us” no longer cuts it. Really paint a picture of your company culture and the impact you make on the community.

Hot tip: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a HUGE selling point for millennial and Gen Z candidates. Research shows that “millennials want companies with CEOs who express political opinions (44%, according to a study by Shandwick) and hold positions on social issues such as immigration and diversity (47%).”

Your “About Us” should include general information about the company, your CSR strategy, and what role the position will play in contributing to the culture of your organization.

4. Cast a wide net. Don’t just focus on expertise or education. Consider potential candidates who show intelligence or an eagerness to learn through their lived experiences. This allows you to look at a wider pool of candidates and possibly find a good employee that you may have accidentally overlooked.

Write your job descriptions in a way that encourages both those with the necessary credentials as well as those with the curiosity or some experience to apply.

This is your chance to get creative with your job description. Challenge the candidates to demonstrate a learning experience at a past job or talk about what excites them at work.

5. Include the salary range. This one is a touchy subject for many employers, as it’s tempting to leave salary range off a job description. Employers are often afraid candidates will expect the higher end of the range or that current employees will feel discouraged if their salary is lower than what is being offered for this similar position.

However, knowing the salary range upfront is helpful to a potential candidate. According to a study by LinkedIn, 61% of those surveyed said compensation is the most helpful part of a job description. A candidate will know right away if the job is truly what they are looking for in terms of salary and if it’s worth the time to apply. It also gives them an idea of negotiation power, should they not receive the top of the range.

If you are uncomfortable giving a salary range in your job description, at least supply enough information that a candidate can research and have an idea of market value compensation for the position.

Bonus: Looking for more help with job descriptions? Check out this breakdown and guide.

Keep those job descriptions updated

Now that you have a killer job description, the next step is to keep it updated. What does this mean? The simple answer: review your job descriptions often and make updates as the positions change.

A few additional tips to keep you on track:

  • For positions that you are hiring for on an ongoing basis, we recommend reviewing and updating the position quarterly.
  • If posting for a job you haven’t hired for in some time, it is best to do a complete review and overhaul to ensure it is current and modernized to hit the points we mentioned above.
  • Create calendar reminders or set tasks to ensure that you review and update job descriptions regularly.
  • Have employees review their job descriptions once a year during the annual review cycle.

Need help with job description writing and maintenance? We can help! At Compensation Works, we work with all different types of industries to help them create the best possible hiring and compensation strategies. Contact us today for a free consultation.