How to Write a Job Description that Actually Gets Ideal Candidates

Happy Monday Leaders! It’s a new month which means it’s time for a new series – HIRING 101! (PS – if you missed last month’s series on Generations in the Workplace check out our rundown on Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z here).

From my own experience, and those of many leaders around me, I truly believe that one of the biggest mistakes we can make as leaders is making the WRONG hire. It wastes TON of our time, costs an insane amount of money, and is painful as a leader and painful for the person that you hired that just wasn’t the right fit. So with that in mind, we’re focusing all of July’s blogs on hiring right the first time.

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This week we’re starting with our dos and don’ts of writing a job description and in the weeks following we’ll touch on screening tools, interviewing, assessments, and discrimination. So let’s dive in!

Don’ts of Writing a Job Description

Don’t just copy and paste something you found off of the internet

As I say this you’re probably realizing it means I’m not providing a template! Here’s why – your job description is the first impression of your business to your potential candidates and it needs to uniquely represent YOU. Use your own branding, set it up in a format that makes sense to what your priorities are, and show your brand’s personality. If you copy and paste someone else’s description, you will attract the candidates that are right for their company – NOT YOURS.

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Don’t fill the job description with a ton of jargon

SERIOUSLY. You lose amazing candidates so quickly by adding in unnecessary jargon, because candidates are immediately confused and therefore don’t feel qualified. Here’s the deal, you can TRAIN for jargon but you can’t train for the attitude, personality, and strengths makeup of your ideal candidate. So don’t scare off great candidates before you’ve even had the chance to screen them.

Don’t overdo it on your minimum qualifications

It’s so easy to turn your minimum qualifications section of a job description into a dream wishlist of the most perfect candidate EVER, but don’t do it! Again, when you do this you screen out amazing candidates that might not have every technical qualification (which you can train for) but are the BEST fit due to their ability to learn quickly, their positivity, their can-do attitude, etc. Also, if you say it’s a required skill and then you end up finding the right candidate but they don’t have those required skills you could get yourself into hot water with other candidates you passed over who did meet your minimum qualifications. Talk to your attorneys about that one.

Dos of Writing a Job Description

Do write your description in your own voice

If you’re a casual, down-to-earth workplace then write conversationally. If you’re a very formal, suits everyday, structured workplace then write in a formal, structured way. This will immediately attract the right personality for your workplace (and immediately repel the WRONG candidates) without your candidate even realizing it. If I’m a suits everyday, show up everyday 20 minutes early, keep my personal and professional lives very separate type of employee that values professionalism and structure above all else I am going to GAG at a conversational job description that is full of personality and vice versa.

Do utilize an online application system

I’m personally a fan of Indeed, and I’ll tell you why. Utilizing an online system allows you to keep everything organized and allows you to screen out candidates using questions and other amazing tools we’ll talk about next week. You also want to ensure that your candidates have basic computer and internet skills to get through an online application process. Even if you post the job on your own website, in print sources, through email lists, on social media, on Youtube, etc. you still want to direct all applicants to apply through your online system. Trust me – this organization is going to save your HOURS of time in the hiring process.

Do include a realistic description of the position’s day-to-day experience

I’m a big fan of starting a job description with a couple of paragraphs about the workplace environment and the typical day-to-day operations of the position. Bonus if you add a short paragraph on the personality and strengths of the ideal candidate in this description. Starting with this means that your candidates don’t have to guess at what kind of workplace they’re walking into, and they don’t have to read between the lines of the duties and requirements to understand what the day-to-day might look like. This will save you from bringing in the wrong candidate and wasting time in an interview process with the wrong fit.

Do include salary and ALL benefits information

So many companies are hesitant to share salary and benefit information in their job descriptions, and for good reason. I get the fear of your competition stealing all of your competitive salary and benefits information but I believe the benefits of being upfront about this information outweighs those downfalls. When you don’t at least share a salary range, you are going to get the wrong candidates applying FOR SURE. Which means added time of screening resumes of folks who aren’t going to be interested in the job anyways, and potentially even interviewing and offering the position to someone who isn’t even close to your budget. Who has the time??

And without sharing all of your benefits, your missing the opportunity to compete for the TOP talent in your industry. If you have great medical, a great 401k matching program, flexible work schedules, great vacation, time off to volunteer, etc. share it ALL. These benefits are going to get the RIGHT candidate SO excited about the opportunity of working with you that they’ll pour their all into the hiring process.

So, What Now?

I challenge you to pull out your most recent job description right now and read through it with this new lens. Does that job description give a clear description of the workplace and day-to-day operations? Does the job description show your brand and your company’s personality? Is the job description enticing? Does it speak to your dream candidate? If not, how can you spruce it up? Share with us in the comments one way you’re updating your job descriptions after reading today!

Talk soon,

Nikki