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: 2520

Comment by Tiffany Branch on August 17, 2012 at 9:20am

If I look at it on the flip side, does it really make a difference? I haven't seen a shortage of candidates because I used a "dull" job description. People are still applying.

Comment by Alasdair Murray on August 17, 2012 at 9:24am

Can you be sure they are the very best quality people though? Most ads will attract some kind of response but often, just as in any decision in life that is emotion based,  attracting the best people takes a lot more than just a cut & pasted job description. You need to appeal to what it is that inspires and motivates them. Make them really want to explore this new opportunity because it might just be the best career move they've ever made. A list of duties alone cannot do that.

Comment by Tiffany Branch on August 17, 2012 at 9:36am

I get what Alasdair is saying, however, I really haven't seen a difference in the quality or quantity of applicants now (boring descriptions) vs the past (when we "marketed" jobs). I think that if people are looking for work, they may not care how good/bad the description is as long as it states the duties. Again, I am playing devil's advocate. Are "we" putting more thought into it than the audience? It would be an interesting study.

Comment by Daniel F Ridge on August 17, 2012 at 2:22pm

But you are not just going after people who are "looking for work" If you believe what most companies say that they are looking for the "best talent" for their positions then writing and posting job ads that suck (JATS) and just listing all of the job duties is never going to attract the "best talent". Look at some of Eric's examples above. Well written, clever job ads should yield fewer responses but better quality and this would allow recruiters to spend their time further screening, interviewing and presenting a slate of qualified, interested and available candidates all of whom could do that particular job. It also stops the constant whining from inhouse recruiters that they have TOO Many unqualified candidates responding to their ads.

Comment by Tiffany Branch on August 17, 2012 at 2:26pm

No, it's not just people looking for work. When I reach out to the passive candidate and they say "send me a description," I've never had anyone turn me down because of a "stale" or "boring" description.

Even when I am presented with an opportunity, the most important aspect of the description to me ARE the actual duties. It can be a very exciting and inviting description but if overall, the duties are something I'm not interested in, I move on. Again, I do believe the descriptions can be written better, but I'm just not sure how much it really matters to the audeince.

Comment by Alasdair Murray on August 17, 2012 at 2:38pm

Of course it matters to the audience. Would you buy a car from someone who just posted a bland specification online? Would you book a holiday or buy many of the products you see advertised every day on tv, in posters in the street etc. if the seller made no effort to market their goods? You may well get adequate response at the moment, but surely you can see the sense in an enhanced message having the potential to attract a better calibre of person - someone who may not even have been thinking about moving jobs but was driven to apply because they liked the sound of what they read in your job ad? No?

Comment by Christopher Perez on August 17, 2012 at 2:41pm

We don't always know the outcome that we'll get when we push the envelope beyond the status quo. The innovations that result may be completely unanticipated and may have gone undiscovered if we hadn't experimented. That's the aspect of Eric's post that resonated with me (whether or not it was his intention). I think that the group's reactions to this topic are probably a reflection of personality, type of practice, volume of workflow, and what's always worked in the past. I happen to be a tweaker by nature and my industry focus allows me the chance to try new things. YMMV.

Comment by Alasdair Murray on August 17, 2012 at 2:46pm

In the past, when everything was print based, recruiters actually made more of an effort. It's only in the last, what, 15 or so years that it has become easier and easier for recruiters to be lazy and just cut & paste a bland job description and call it a job ad or post. The basic principle that human emotion is stimulated by alluring messages has always been there, it;'s just that many of the modern breed of recruiter fail to see that because, during their working lifetime "we've always done it like that". As I  touched upon, each one of us is motivated in some way by advertising, be it cars, drinks, holidays, insurance or whatever. Recruitment should be no different. There should be a sell in each and every ad, but sadly, all too often, there isn't. A simple test would be, rather than cut & paste dull text into a box and press send, before you place a job post, ask yourself a simple question "Would I be motivated to apply for this role if I were qualified to do the job?" Well, would you?

Comment by Tiffany Branch on August 17, 2012 at 3:13pm

To Alasdair's point about enhanced messaging, etc. I do think some of it has to do with the company as well. I have worked for very prominent, branded companies and we got bombarded with resumes whether we posted or not. Clearly, those companies are still around and doing well so I don't think we were missing the target on attracting great candidates. On the other hand, when I worked for a company that no one knew of unless you were in the industry, we did have to be more creative and enticing with our postings.

 

I will agree that many folks are swayed by "advertising" and some of us are not. I'm a Benz girl and I don't care what type of ad BMW runs I'm not switching.  I'm only concerned with the color and if the coffee cup holder is a comfortable reach for me. LOL

 

All jokes aside, is someone able to post two descriptions (one good and one bad) same job of course, and see the # of responses? I would if I had access to a free site.

Comment by Daniel F Ridge on August 17, 2012 at 3:15pm

In 99.9%  of the cases you would have to say No because there is no sell, no motive to respond at all other than the fact that from the candidates perspective they see a company with an opening and are saying to themselves "even if I don't fit this job, I will be in their system and surely they will reach out to me for a job that I am qualified for." This is the system that we as recruiters have created or at least have had some responsibility in implementing, managing and maintaining. ATS systems have in general made for lazy recruiters. They have also been the reason that so many job ads suck and are just a laundry list of duties and responsibilities. The solution is to turn over the writing and posting of job ads to the marketing department or bring in someone like Alasdair. The job ad is ADVERTISING and should be considered as such. The job of recruiters is to source, screen and select the best talent for a given position.   

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