Knowing how to write effective job descriptions that bring in top candidates is more important in today’s highly competitive recruitment market than ever before.
From helping potential new hires understand what to expect of the company culture, to helping teams narrow down a field of good candidates, writing an effective job description can be a powerful tool.
Our article below shares:
You can also click here to download our job description templates.
Why are job descriptions important?
1. The Job Description Might Be the First Touch Point
The job description is one of the first touch points for any candidate interested in applying to a role.
Poorly written descriptions can turn potential candidates away from a company, even before they begin researching it.
This is especially concerning for smaller companies that do not have widespread brand recognition.
Beyond just failing to provide accurate information about the role, poor job descriptions are an indicator of the candidate experience a company provides.
Research shows that 68% of job seekers believe their candidate experience impacts whether or not they accept a position offered by the company.
So, not only do bad job descriptions prevent interested applicants from learning more about the position, but poor experiences will also discourage them from accepting an offer if made.
2. An Effective Job Description Should Help Set Expectations Early
Having an effective job description is key to a successful recruitment process.
Well-made job descriptions should provide clear and accurate information to potential candidates about the role being advertised, such as required skills, experience, tasks, responsibilities, and salary expectations. In fact, 61% of candidates say the salary range is the most important part of the job description
This way, employers avoid wasting both their own time and the applicants' time when they find out their expectations do not fit with the requirements of the position advertised.
Providing accurate information to potential candidates also allows them to make informed decisions when they choose to go ahead with the recruitment process or opt-out due to unsuitable requirements or salaries.
Having an effective job description helps make sure that only those who meet the criteria enter into the selection process, saving both sides time and effort for all parties involved.
3. Better Job Descriptions Are More Likely to Attract Relevant Candidates
Job descriptions are one of the most important pieces of information that a business has when it comes to attracting relevant candidates for open positions.
Having a well-written and effective job description can make all the difference in whether or not someone is interested in applying for the role.
Good job descriptions should provide enough information to make sure that only qualified candidates will apply while also giving an insight into the company’s culture and values.
Using language that resonates with potential applicants, gives job seekers an understanding of how a particular position would fit into their overall career plans and what they can gain from the role.
Job descriptions should also be written with clarity so they are easily understandable for job seekers to quickly assess whether they have the necessary qualifications or skills needed for this position.
By writing an effective and transparent job description, businesses are more likely to attract relevant candidates who meet their standards.
4. A Good Job Description Helps Businesses Limit Risk
Having a good job description is not only important for your business but it can also help limit risk.
By having an effective job description, businesses can avoid compliance risks related to hiring discrimination, unequal pay, and the designation of non-essential job functions that could disqualify candidates based on criteria unrelated to their abilities.
Job descriptions should clearly outline the required duties and responsibilities of the position and provide precise details on what qualifications are necessary to be eligible.
Additionally, employers need to take special care in avoiding language regarding protected characteristics such as race, gender, age or religion.
Employers must remain aware of local laws when including certain criteria for a position. They should also make sure they spell out any reasons an applicant may be disqualified from further consideration.
Writing a well-thought-out job description is one of the best ways employers can protect themselves from legal action down the line.
Tips for improving your job descriptions
1. Use performance or qualification-based descriptions
Companies can improve their hiring success rate by using performance or qualification-based descriptions. Skills-based job descriptions focus on qualifications that are linked to the capabilities a company wants from potential candidates.
This may limit organisations to a standard candidate profile but it does guarantee that a specific level of knowledge and ability is expected from whoever is hired.
A different option to skills-based descriptions is impact-based, or performance-based descriptions. Rather than seeking out traditional qualifications, these descriptions focus on the past results of achievements that demonstrate a candidate's ability in helping to reach organisational goals.
Candidates may not always have formal qualifications but can still prove themselves through the results of their work. This may even be more beneficial to your organisation.
Therefore, while skills-based job descriptions are useful in certain circumstances, performance-based options might lead to more successful outcomes when employed in the right context.
2. Keep it simple and informative
Recruiting for any role can be a time-consuming process. It is important that recruiters take the time to create a short and informative job posting. Too much information in a posting can be overwhelming for potential candidates, making it hard to find the key points of the job requirements.
Keeping job postings concise will help to maximise efficiency during the recruitment process and make it easier for applicants to identify which skills, qualifications and experience are necessary for the role.
It is also useful for employers to provide clear and understandable job descriptions as this saves both parties valuable time throughout the recruitment period.
A concise job description should include all relevant information such as position details, responsibilities, qualifications required, and other key points without making the description too long or cluttered.
Well-structured postings with short descriptions improve user experiences when searching through available roles. This lets applicants easily explore their options and find suitable positions more quickly.
3. Focus on growth and development
As a way to attract and retain top talent, businesses must focus on providing support in areas such as professional development opportunities and long-term career progression.
By prioritising growth and development initiatives within the organisation, companies can turn a casual job candidate into an empowered employee with greater knowledge and understanding of the company’s values.
To fully capitalise on the benefits of this type of strategy, training, and resources should be provided at all levels within the company.
This can range from short skill-building courses or internal seminars for current staff to external seminars from industry experts for leaders.
Companies should also look at ways to invest in building relations with their workforce by conducting regular performance reviews that focus on developing strengths within individual roles rather than simply assessing deficiencies.
By providing relevant coaching or management guidance, employers can foster a culture of self-improvement that enables employees to feel motivated through every stage of their careers.
4. Write clear explanations of the role requirements
By providing applicants with an in-depth look at every part of the role, you can efficiently weed out applicants with skills that don’t align with what your company needs.
You can still keep the job description short. Employers should provide bullet points listing essential duties and required qualifications. This allows candidates to make a more informed decision on whether or not they have the necessary skills to be successful in that role before applying.
Additionally, it can also give recruiters a better sense of which candidate is a possible match as well as help companies advertise roles in ways that attract quality talent.
How traditional job descriptions get it wrong, mistakes to avoid
A report from HR Dive found that 72% of hiring managers think they provide clear job descriptions, while only 36% of candidates felt the same. This discrepancy shows a need for more accuracy when writing job descriptions - so that applicants know exactly what they're getting into before they apply.
At the same time, employers need to be prepared to update their description if it isn't bringing in qualified applicants.
That applies particularly when it comes to positions with flexible or creative titles; a "Customer Happiness Driver" could mean any number of things depending on the company and industry it's being used in!
Don't be afraid to rework your existing job descriptions if you find yourself overwhelmed with under-qualified applicants or no applicants at all. A few targeted changes could make all the difference.
1. Generic descriptions could apply to any company
Generic descriptions are a common temptation for small businesses, yet they fail to excite candidates and provide a compelling case for what the company has to offer.
Generic postings don’t tell potential employees anything special about why they should choose your company over another.
They may be satisfactory on the surface, but will ultimately fall short at delivering the full picture of how working with your company is more than just a job; it’s an opportunity to make a real difference.
Without the personalised elements tailored specifically towards your organisation, generic content will never be able to accurately share all that you have to offer. It can't accurately represent the exciting projects you have in store or the importance behind your mission.
Great candidates are looking for more than just a basic job they can copy/paste from any other employer; they want something special and specific that speaks directly to their skillset and engages them enough to apply.
Put in a little extra effort and show off why your company is worth investing in.
2. Clichés and buzzwords = skeptical candidates
Recent research has found that nearly a quarter of job seekers are skeptical about the promises companies make regarding job expectations, benefits, perks, and culture. This skepticism is often due to the excessive use of buzzwords becoming so common that they lose all meaning over time.
To prevent creating doubt in a candidate’s mind, employers should consider presenting honest and direct job descriptions to ensure potential hires have a realistic expectation for what the position can offer them upon applying or interviewing.
Avoiding buzzwords gives candidates a fresh outlook on the company and its potential employment opportunities while also giving them insight into the actual values of the culture a company may offer.