5 keys to writing a powerful job description

You may have a clear vision of your dream employee, but how do you capture those thoughts and form them into an accurate and enticing job description that attracts the right candidates? Here are five tips to help you write a better job description. 

1. State your business. 

Interviewing and hiring new employees takes time, energy and money, but you can minimize outputs by being clear about your company’s industry, size, age, location and culture to ensure that you attract candidates who are interested in being a part of a company like yours. Think about aspects that affect daily operations: Is the culture innovative, formal, relaxed or high-pressure? Does your team comprise younger employees or more seasoned ones? Are you in an industrial office park off the highway or on the top floor of a downtown high-rise? Do you serve B2B customers, consumers or both? All of these factors contribute to employee experience and paint a picture for potential candidates. 

2. Think keywords.

Many online job-search websites (e.g., Indeed) scour the Web for open positions then syndicate them to a broad audience. Likewise, candidates who visit your company’s hiring portal usually have the option to search terms to find openings. To help the right candidates find your position, write the job description to include specific skills required, as well as location, job title and salary range. When you describe tasks, stay away from company-specific jargon, and be mindful that job titles can differ based on the company or industry. Choose keywords that are clear and concise.

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3. Identify the goals.

A job description should clearly state the objective for the position, the primary roles and responsibilities, and the must-have skill sets a candidate needs. To succeed on the job takes more than simply delivering on the basic expectations. Beyond the bulleted list of duties, consider the “how” behind the “what” to ensure that you attract candidates with the right personality, temperament and life phase for the job. For example, if the person in the role will be tasked with securing new customers, detail how he or she will go about developing such relationships, including required travel and use of prospecting and technology tools. If the purpose of the job is to maintain an existing project or account, does it include managing others, working with cross-functional teams or both? If you require specific education, licenses, experience and skills, include those, too.

4. What’s in it for them?

Despite the bleak news surrounding unemployment numbers, your job description should sound like an exciting opportunity. Include your company’s benefits, such as flexible work hours, vacation time, sick leave, maternity and retirement packages, and any remote work options. Beyond the financial aspects, include intrinsic motivators: If a potential candidate will work with a major brand or corporation or have impact on the industry at large, the company or the community, say so in the job description. But don’t get too carried away. Kevin Wheeler, president and founder of Global Learning Resources, says the downside to being overzealous in presenting the job is that new hires may quickly move on if the hype is not reflected as truth.

5. How will you make your decision? 

Provide clear direction for the candidate. List exactly what you want to see in the application, particularly if you’re looking for examples of past work or require the person to complete a skills test. If you don’t want to receive follow-up phone calls or contact by social media, be blatant. Limiting contact will not only make the selection process more manageable, but it can also gauge how well a potential employee follows direction and how interested the person is in the job, based on the effort put forth.