Your Questions Answered: How Do I Craft a Job Description To Grab My Ideal Candidates?

In this series, we answer questions sent in to Recruiting Hacks by leaders who responded to our 2012 hiring research survey. Do you have a question for the Recruiting Hacks team? Send it in!

writing a job description


Writing a good job description is an art. It’s easy to know a good one when you see one, but when you’re staring down the blank computer screen trying to craft one yourself? Not so simple.

Luckily, there are things you can do to make it easier.

One of the first – but most commonly skipped – things to do is identify the candidate you want to hire. Really think about it, and write down what qualities and experience you’re looking for in a candidate. Writing it down for yourself helps you clarify who you’re talking to when you compose your job description. Being able to speak directly to your candidate helps you craft the right language to grab their attention and filter out people who don’t match your needs.

Be as specific as you can so candidates know what they’re getting into and what your job is all about. It’s really easy to slip into writing the same old job description as everyone else if you’re not careful; think about the description from the candidate’s perspective and answer the questions they likely have. What does their average day in the office look like? Who will they work with?

[And when you’re listing requirements, be sure the things you say are required really are. If 5 years of experience in cloud computing is ideal, but you’d accept a candidate with 3 years experience plus some other awesome work under their belt, say so. Otherwise, you risk turning away qualified candidates who assume they’d be rejected for lacking requirements.]

Incorporate fun and personality wherever you can so candidates who love your culture get excited. Job descriptions can quickly become boring lists of “The ideal candidate will have X, Y, and Z. Your tasks will include A, B, and C. Don’t be afraid of words like awesome, amazing, genius, outstanding, etc. Let your culture come through in the job listing, and the candidates who match your culture will know they’ve found the right place – and, just as important, candidates who don’t match it can move on.

It’s also a great idea to include photos to bring your team and work to life. Include a team photo on your About page or at the bottom of your job description, and highlight your awesome office space (think: cool conference rooms, ping pong tables, huge server rooms – whatever your ideal candidate will find appealing!). Even just candid shots around the office help make your job seem more real in the eyes of candidates.

Make a specific ask for their application. Instead of just asking candidates to send in a resume and cover letter, also ask them to include a brief answer to a question like this one used in a recent Director Of Content position from Portent: “If you were given $1,000 to spend on your content/social teams in a single day, what would you do?”. Give candidates an opportunity to wow you, so you know who you really want to talk to more.

The most important thing about writing a job description is getting inside the head of your perfect candidate. The more honest you can be, the better candidates will filter themselves so you get more of your kind of candidate and fewer people just applying being the position is open. Invite them to get excited about the role and encourage the right candidate to get you excited about them too.

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