Attracting and retaining employees is becoming more competitive by the day. It’s a candidate’s market, and hiring managers are finding it more challenging to attract top talent. The traditional phrase of “hire slow” is going out of vogue in the fight for qualified candidates. With these high-performing individuals, organizations should speed up their recruiting process if they want to attract and retain exceptional employees.
Revising your job descriptions is one way to hire faster, but not many employers know how to write a good job description that actually converts.
Admittedly, writing job descriptions is not at the top of everyone’s favorite-things-to-do list. However, with candidates reviewing numerous job descriptions—whether they’re actively or passively looking for new opportunities—you need a job description that catches their eye and encourages them to apply for the position. The job description often serves as the initial introduction of your company to potential candidates. Making an excellent first impression is paramount.
According to SHRM, only 8.6% of job seekers on career sites apply for positions. Why is this number so low? Are job descriptions too long? Too generic? Too cumbersome? From reading the description, can a potential candidate pinpoint the opportunity? Having a less than effective job description can hurt your recruiting efforts.
Not sure how to write a good job description? Let’s review some ways to liven up your job descriptions and help them convert job seekers to applicants more effectively.
Be Mindful of Your Language
How to write a good job description starts with being aware of the words you choose. According to LinkedIn data, 13% more men than women apply to a job after reading its description, often due to the job’s portrayal. To create a diverse pipeline of talent, avoid using gender-biased language, like “rockstar,” “ninja,” or “assertive.” By using language that is commonly geared towards males, you’ll limit your number of applicants right off the bat.
On the other hand, don’t include female-sounding language either, such as “nurturing,” “polite,” or “empathetic.” Rather, expand your potential talent pool by using gender-neutral words to convey the job’s attributes and requirements. For example, use words such as “motivated,” “professional,” or “courteous” that are equally geared towards male and female job seekers.
Not only does your word choice boost your diversity and inclusion, but you’ll also emotionally appeal to more candidates. To make sure you’ve created an effective job description, you can use programs such as Textio to evaluate your word choice and tone, and help increase your conversion rate.
Include Qualifications and Responsibilities
When reading job descriptions, candidates want to review the qualifications and responsibilities of the job before applying. However, you don’t want to present a never-ending list of requirements or duties, since people typically skim when reading. Stay away from long-winded paragraphs on the qualifications and responsibilities of the position, and opt for a bullet point list of the top four to six requirements. You want to strike the right balance of providing enough information to individuals and not turning them off with too much. This way, potential candidates can quickly review the position and also get a full idea of what’s expected of them.
As companies like Google, Bank of America, and Apple move away from requiring a college degree, more employers are placing more importance on skills rather than experience. Although skills such as cloud computing or analytical reasoning may be critical to the job itself, you still want your job description to promote soft skills like creativity, collaboration, and adaptability as well. By including soft skills—and not just sticking to a strict script of hard skills—you’re further connecting with candidates. Today, it’s critical to appeal to human traits, not just learned skills.
Describe the Company
Often, employers are focused on what they need and forget about including who they are. Conveying information about the company, such as your mission statement, drives interest. Use this opportunity to educate job seekers on who you are in the job description.
When describing your organization, briefly address your company’s culture. According to a recent study by LinkedIn, only 28% of job candidates wanted to read an in-depth summary of your organization’s culture. A few points highlighting your atmosphere—enough to entice the candidate to visit your website to learn more—is more than sufficient.
However, the same study found that if the tone in your job description doesn’t match your company’s culture, job seekers are 2 to 4 times less likely to apply for the position. If your culture is formal, then a creative, casual job description wouldn’t make sense. However, if you’re relaxed and laid back, neither will an overly rigid description. Having an authentic tone when describing your organization prevents your candidates from feeling like there’s a bait-and-switch when it comes to the job, which raises both their interest and action.
Further, be transparent. 61% of candidates prioritize salary in job descriptions above all else so don’t exclude compensation, benefits, and perks. When changing jobs, individuals want to make sure they can provide for themselves and their families. Candidates also want to make an informed decision. For example, they may take less salary than their current job if a better opportunity presents itself—so don’t leave people guessing. With 87% of both active and passive workers open to new job opportunities, your transparency can drive new talent to your door.
Keep It Short
People’s attention spans are evolving, thanks to the bombardment of information we receive through computers, smartphones, streaming services, and around-the-clock news channels. Due to this overwhelm, people are becoming more selective about the information they want to process, including your job descriptions.
Keep your word count to about 300. Anything longer and you may potentially lose a candidate to another more concisely written description. However, you should still include all the information a candidate needs to make an informed decision. If your job descriptions are brief and packed with enticing tidbits, job seekers can easily them on their phone or tablet and keep you top of mind in their job search.
Promote Your Job Descriptions Early in the Week
Once you write your job description, you need to promote it. Whether that’s on job boards, social media, or your website, you need to let the job seeking world know you’re hiring. LinkedIn recently found that posting on Mondays is your best bet. More than half of all views and applications occur Monday through Wednesday. As the week goes on, people view (and apply for) jobs less and less, with Fridays through Sundays being the worst days to communicate your job opening.
Attracting top talent in this job market is no easy feat. Remember, we live in a digital world driven by keyword searches and first-page Google results. Choose your words carefully by optimizing your job descriptions for search engines. If no one can find you, your ability to attract top candidates will deteriorate. At the same time, don’t fill your descriptions with too many keywords or you risk coming across as inauthentic.
Hopefully you’ve learned how to write a good job description. Spending more time writing your job description can literally pay off. Not only will you attract more candidates, but you’ll attract more quality candidates. And that’s a game changer.