Amidst all the hubbub over targeting the best talent for your organization through social media recruiting, developing your career website and creating employee referral programs, recruiters can sometimes lose sight of a key component of the process – the job description.

With so much emphasis placed on reaching out to qualified applicants, the significance of the job description can be underestimated. Your career site is a major way to engage with candidates, but the ultimate goal of the flashy graphics and branding messages is to direct visitors towards your job listings. And it’s their descriptions which stand between you and a better applicant conversion ratio.

After doing all that you can to grab the attention of potential candidates, the job description is your final shot to reel them in. This is especially true with regards to passive candidates. Generally employed, and therefore less-inclined to actually submit their resumes, they need to be convinced that a position at your company would be the best professional opportunity for them.


Perfect the Art

So how can you perfect the art of the job description?

1. Take a step back and consider what it is that makes this position at your organization unique. If you want to see candidates clamoring for the opportunity to work with you, step into their shoes. From the perspective of passive candidates – what do you offer that their current employment does not?

2. Don’t be afraid to name-drop, whether it’s your renowned clients or well-known employees. Telling a potential candidate that the Albert Einstein of their industry works at your company is a great way to enhance the description, and provide a taste of what they could achieve with you. (“If so-and-so works there, this company just might be the right place for me to advance my career!”)

3. When describing a position, don’t get bogged down in the standard skill set requirements. Candidates, especially top-talent, are already familiar with this – and they most likely have it. Instead, focus on the job’s interesting and challenging tasks.

4. Touch upon the immediate job benefits and perks, while ensuring that this is not the focus of your message. You want to attract candidates who will value a position on its own merits, not because of a few extra vacation days.

5. A polished writing style is a must. This description is going to be read by (hopefully) hundreds of professionals – make sure that it is written well. Ask someone in your company’s marketing department to take a look at the draft and give you some pointers. Cut out the wordiness and hype up the sharp enthusiasm.

In closing, remember that the art of the job description is the ability to sell the position to the most qualified, best-fit candidate. It should provide answers to the “who/what/where/ how” – and above all, the “why”. It’s this “why” which sets your positions apart from those of your competitors’. Make it clear why candidates should consider working for your company, why you have an edge over your competitors, and why the position will help them develop their careers. Instead of throwing together a basic, ordinary job description, use the tips above to help you capitalize on this space.

Has your company published a really great job description? Tell us about it below! 

Views: 614

Comment by Paul S. Gumbinner on July 24, 2012 at 9:17am

Surprisingly, most HR professionals and hiring managers have no idea how to write a job description or job spec.  Most that we receive are a wish list of attributes (e.g. College graduate, x number of years experience, good leadership skills, etc.).  I do corporate lecturing and tell people that the most important part of hiring is about construction of an actionable and measurable job description which contains all the things, including personality, that will affect the hire.

There is one key point.  If, while interviewing candidates, a person is rejected for a reason that is not in the job spec, then the job spec is incomplete and needs to be re-written.  A recent candidate was rejected for being, "too upbeat" (I kid you not).  A second was rejected as not being aggressive enough.  I told the client that they needed to add these attributes to their job specs and if they did, they would save themselves a lot of time since as a recruiter, I could screen based on this criteria.  The third candidate I sent got hired.  The HR person actually thanked me for teaching her a lesson.

Comment by Assaf Eisenstein on July 24, 2012 at 10:52am

Thanks for your comment, Paul. This is definitely an issue worth addressing (and what a crazy story about being "too upbeat" - what could be wrong with that?). 

Comment by Peter Ceccarelli on July 24, 2012 at 3:55pm

I've started giving my job postings to our marketing copywriter who does a great job jazzing them up, but also staying on point of what it is we're looking for.  Most of us in HR and Recruiting we're not educated to be consumer marketing experts, therefore ours are dry and always too much to the point.  Great article!

Comment by Assaf Eisenstein on July 25, 2012 at 2:59am

Hi Peter, thanks for sharing!


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