3 Awesome Examples of Job Descriptions

If your company is struggling to find new talent, is it possible that your job descriptions could be to blame? It’s a question worth asking, because your “now hiring” advertisements determine, in part, just who applies for your position. Craft your ads the right way and you’ll capture the attention of talented innovators.

Write a generic post, on the other hand, and you may as well head to the nearest street corner and shout, “Who wants a job!” If you’re looking for a little inspiration to up your hiring game, here are three examples of job descriptions that pack a punch. Remember, if you’re going to spend hours of your time asking strangers open-ended questions in the interview phase, you might as well stack the deck in your favor.

1. Clear and Concise

So what’s the most important rule to follow when writing job descriptions? It’s simple: you must speak like a normal human being. Consider chucking phrases like “core competency,” “leveraging assets” and yes, even “best practices.” If you must use business speak, couch the terms in simple sentence structures.

In other words, don’t be opaque just because it’s the norm. Writing professionals agree that it’s not a good trend, and in fact many don’t even consider this type of writing be a valid form of communication (since it seems to do everything but communicate).Additionally, language like this makes it harder for applicants to understand exactly what the job is and what skills they’ll need to apply. The strongest descriptions use language that’s both succinct and concrete. Take this job ad for a T-shirt designer as an example:

“You will be expected to generate your own amazing ideas as well as illustrate subjects provided to you in a style which the ThinkGeek customer enjoys. You’ll also be making web graphics for the products you help create, as well as filing in other design tasks around the office. You must have a great sense of humor and amazing illustration abilities and technique. Can you draw Rancors with your tablet while blindfolded? Good. That’s a start.”

In this posting, the requirements are clear and easy to comprehend. An applicant can quickly gauge the expectations of the company and can decide whether his or her skill set meets those requirements. When it comes to writing job descriptions, a simple and compact style will save you time, because when you’re clear about your needs, you won’t have to interview candidates who simply don’t fit the bill.

2. Packed with Personality

Have mercy on your applicants. Many of them will have spent days or weeks combing through dry job descriptions while slowly losing hope of ever repaying their student loans. Would it kill you to entertain them a bit? Add some wit to your writing and you’ll capture the interest of all the young creatives. Not sure what we mean?

Take a look at this opening paragraph for Woot.com’s posting for an electronics buyer:

“You started out an acoustic buyer. When you made the change, everyone gasped. One called you Judas, another tried to cut the cable with an axe. But you held on, and now you’re a trendsetter, an industry leader, and sometimes called a visionary in your field. You’ve mastered getting deals on all things electric and you’re reading to push the envelope again. Hey, guess what? Us too! Why don’t we go on the road together, man? And by the road we mean you can buy electronics for our website. See, it’s slang.”

Would this paragraph provide the perfect sample job description if it appeared on its own? Of course not, but it does whet your appetite and make you want to read more. The tone matches the company’s personality – and that’s important. After opening with a bang, this job posting unpacks the necessary details, and does it in a truly unique way with headers like “worst part of the job” and “degrees of separation from the CEO.”

This sends a message to potential employees (and the site’s competitors) that the company is one that’s willing to take time on the details in all areas of their business – right down to their job descriptions.

3. A Challenger Appears

If you’ve ever been forced to sort through a pile of applications, you know that many candidates don’t exactly give it their all. They hand in cover letters riddled with spelling mistakes, and their resumes detail work experience that’s just not applicable. Of course you want to invite a wide range of applicants when you’re hiring, but you don’t want to waste time on people who can’t even bother to proofread. The solution? Issue a challenge like this one, used by Reddit in their search for a programmer: “Applications must be sent to S@reddit.com, where:

  • S is a three-character string which, when given a null terminator and encoded in hex, is equivalent to the eight-digit hexadecimal number H.
  • H is the hexadecimal representation of the decimal number N.
  • N = A * B * C * D
  • A is the number of 1 bits in the current serial number on the SOA record for reddit.com.
  • B is the number of seconds in a day.
  • C is the ASCII value of the character that appears 5304 times in *.html files in a fresh checkout of the reddit repository. (It’s also the EBCDIC representation of the \a character.)
  • D is the port that you typically connect to when you need to get an encrypted shell on some remote machine.”

Is it a riddle every would-be applicant could solve? Definitely not – but that’s the point. This creative touch ensures that everyone who does apply will not only have the skill set needed for the job, but that they’ll also be the kind of people who don’t cut corners, who get excited by challenges and who are happy to put in a little extra effort where it counts. Add a puzzle or other creative task to your job posting and discover employees who are up for the challenge.

Some jobs will always be easier to fill than others. The position of “gourmet chocolate taster” for instance, is likely to generate far more interest than, say, “unpaid data entry intern.” When writing job descriptions for some openings, there’s only so much you can do.

But if these creative examples of job descriptions teach you anything, it should be this: it’s not just about what you say, but about how you say it. Paint a picture of a workplace full of wit and enthusiasm and you’ll attract applicants who mirror those qualities. Trust us – if you write it, they will come.

If you liked this article, check out our other writing at http://www.theresumator.com/blog!

Views: 2510

Comment by Amber on August 15, 2012 at 6:28pm

Thanks, Eric! This and a post on here the other day about "JATS" will bring me some inspiration tonight when I write a few job posts.

Comment by Dave Wood on August 16, 2012 at 8:22am

This 'Inbound Marketing Ninja' advert is one of the best I've seen: http://www.northwestwebjobs.co.uk/jobs/view/inbound-marketing-ninja

Comment by Johnny Campbell on August 16, 2012 at 9:34am

Love it. Absolutely love it Eric. Thanks for taking the time and effort to research and write this post mate; most recruiters (99%?) write generic tosh and then cry that nobody replies to their jobs anymore or that job boards don't work. We need to be more like ad-men and less like HR folk (sorry HR folk out there but you started the whole Responsibilities/ Requirements thing). Your point about humanising the language is insightful. I have always maintained that your written job spec should sound the same as if you were describing the role in person. Keep up the good work!

Comment by Tiffany Branch on August 16, 2012 at 9:54am

People don't write ads for jobs anymore, they just post the compensation-approved job description. Before applicant tracking systems, you would take your job description and write an ad to be posted in the paper or even on monsterboard (for those who remember that far back). A few companies I worked for paid a 3rd party firm to write our ads and then we approved them for posting. Now with the ATS, employers just upload the job description. Oftentimes, the job descrip is full of company lingo and acronyms and it doesn't translate to anything to the public.

Comment by Daniel F Ridge on August 16, 2012 at 10:38am

Eric, I am pleased to see this post on this site. I referenced you and this post from your web site on a blog that I posted last week, Get Rid of JATS, Join the Movement! It did get a lot of comments and I feel that this is REALLY something that recruiters could champion and that would have a huge impact on our industry. Job Ads Suck and you provided some great examples of ones that Don't. Thanks and welcome to the Movement! 

Comment by Eric Gaydos on August 16, 2012 at 10:40am

Thanks for the great feedback , everyone! Dave - that's a GREAT description. Covers the job perfectly and I really enjoyed reading through it. Daniel - thanks for the mention, and I loved the article!

Comment by Jennifer Brownell on August 16, 2012 at 10:41am

Our company, Q4B is on a mission to Get Rid of JATS, Job Ads that SucK. One of our contributing consultants, Dan Ridge posted a blog last week on this very topic and mentioned your name. I hope that you read it. I am happy to see this post here so that others will read it and Join the Movement to Get Rid of JATS. Thanks Eric, great post!

Comment by Christopher Perez on August 16, 2012 at 10:47am

Superb post, Eric! I enjoy the writing associated with recruiting (job descriptions, resume tweaks, candidate profiles, persuasive emails, etc.). This is right up my alley and I will be inspired by it as I write up a handful of JDs this week.  Chris

Comment by Sandra McCartt on August 16, 2012 at 4:32pm

I particularly love the suggestion to get rid of the biz-speak.  I just redid a resume yesterday for a friend who had so much biz speak in it that anyone reading it would think she was made out plaster.  Why people think that throwing around stilted sounding language makes them look smart or important is beyond comprehension.  When i see that crap i think, "duck", "arrogant duck".

Comment by Alasdair Murray on August 17, 2012 at 8:38am

Amongst other things, I write recruitment communications copy for a living and the lack of care taken over the typical recruiters job post never ceases to amaze me. The web is littered with cut & pasted dross. And yet, when you think about it, you marvel at the creativity and imagination of product advertisers and their memorable offerings. Recruitment, to a lesser extent, should also seek to have some kind of allure, something that appeals to people's emotions. After all, only surpassed by buying property, getting married and having children, moving jobs is a pretty big decision in a person's life. So why do so many treat it with such a lack of forethought or creativity and ingenuity?

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