3 Steps to Writing Better Job Descriptions

1. Understand who you really want to hire

Generating a list of job requirements is easy. But what motivates the people who fit your needs best?

Think of your job description not as a list of requirements, but as an ad targeted solely at the best fits for your position. What gets them out of bed in the morning? What are their emotional triggers? Do they care more about compensation or meaningful work?

Spend some time talking with your best recent hires about what they value most about working for your company. Your goal should be a list of at least three things that matter most to these people.

2. Frame your job description around what matters most to your targets

Now that you know what your top candidates care about, show them how you will deliver just that - again and again. It never hurts to belabor the point if it’s something people care about!

In general, we recommend hitting one of those selling points from three different angles. For example, if a junior role offers significant mentorship opportunities, you can emphasize the amount of mentorship time, the expertise of the mentor, and the topics involved in the mentorship.

For example, one CTO had no team and wanted to hire her first junior engineer. We emphasized the opportunity to work daily with a top-flight engineer, and quickly found a perfect candidate.

3. Make it readable!

Who’s reading your job descriptions? Maybe a job hunter who’s looking at dozens of job descriptions a day. Maybe someone with a great job who’s got a million other things to do. Either way, busy people don’t read - they skim and scan. Make sure your most important points can’t be missed!

Here are a few general tips to improve scan-ability:

  • Use whitespace to separate different types of information (e.g. a list of perks and a blurb about your company’s history). The eye easily jumps from chunk to chunk, but if the page looks like one mass of text, people can get lost.
  • Use lists!
  • Keep sentences short where you can.
  • Never use a small font.
  • Use headings and subheadings to show readers the structure.

For (much) more information, check out “Letting Go of the Words” by Ginny Redish. It’s focused specifically on web writing of all kinds, but where else would your job description be?

Not getting enough applications? Move beyond job descriptions and incorporate Active Sourcing!