How to write better job descriptions

How to write better job descriptions to attract candidates to apply to job postings, what recruiters need to include

As a Talent Acquisition manager or Recruiter, this scenario is familiar for you. When you get approval to post a job advertisement to hire for your employer, this is what happens.

  • You collect requirements from the team you are hiring for
  • You have a budget for the role
  • You write a job description
  • You find your favorite job board or platform
  • You pull out your company credit card, pay and post a job advertisement
  • Two weeks later, you receive no applications. You write off that job board and vow to never come back.

This is a situation that I hear about from Recruiters and Talent Acquisition managers. It is a hot market out there, one in which good candidates are sought after. Most job positions that do not attract job seekers have one thing in common: An unattractive job description.

Standard Job Description

On an employer's job market, this is how you wrote standard job advertisements.

  • Generic Job Title
  • Company description that sounds like a Press Release
  • Requirements and expectations of your ideal candidate
  • Responsibilities and duties for the candidate
  • How to apply, if candidate should write a cover letter, etc.

Companies that post job advertisements with a vague description do not receive the attention of the candidates. Job seekers spend an average of 10 to 20 seconds skimming the job description for facts that stand out, before deciding to read the rest of your job description.

What is a good job advertisement?

A good job advertisement makes it easier for potential candidates to understand information about your company, expectations and what you can offer to them.

  • Job Title
  • What your company does
  • Location of the job
  • What you can offer to the candidate
  • What you are looking for in a candidate
  • Interview process and what the candidate can expect
  • How the candidate can apply

How to improve a job description

  • Specific Job Title. Use keywords that your candidate will use when searching for a job.

    Include technologies, seniority that you expect (Junior, Mid, Senior, Team Lead, etc.)
    Example: Change "Developer" to "Junior PHP Developer"
  • Remote flexibility. Do you allow candidates to work remotely, either fully or in a hybrid model? Or are candidates expected to work from a particular location? Job searches for remote work are up 460% in the two years.
  • Include Salary Range. Candidates love this. Companies don't. If you have a budget for a role, include it. Offer stock or other compensation? Add it.

    Spending weeks on interviewing your candidate and then finding out your salary ranges don't match is not ideal. You can save time.
  • Visa Sponsorship. Do you hire internationally? Mention it. Use the words that candidates look for: "Visa Sponsorship", "Visa Support". Encourage candidates from abroad to apply for your job.

    Help candidates with getting their visa sorted, or blue card appointments? Great place to mention it.
  • Relocation Support. Offer Relocation Support to your employees? Mention it on your job posting. Whether this is directly from your employee, or through an agency, this makes a big difference for candidates.

    Have a relocation budget instead? Even better!
  • Company Description. What your company does, what it aims to achieve. Explain your product, service, work culture, tech stack (when applicable), etc.
  • English Speaking Job. Is English the official work language? Or do candidates need to know German? Help candidates find your english speaking job easier.
  • Diversity. Encourage candidates from diverse backgrounds to apply.
  • Type of Role. Is it a full-time position? Part-time? Freelance? Contract?
  • Use Standard Language. Avoid language and phrases that is only used within your company.

    If your company has internal levels (I, II, III...), replace them with equivalent standard levels (Junior, Mid, Senior). Make it simple for job seekers to understand the expected level.

    Job Postings in Germany generally use the words "Home Office" instead of Remote. Replace them.
  • Restrict usage of abbreviations and acronyms. Avoid abbreviations and acronyms that people outside of your company, or industry might not know. Candidates can feel discouraged that they are not good enough, if they cannot understand you.
  • Benefits. Is there a training budget for personal improvement? Do you offer work equipment? Reimbursement of public transport? Mentoring or training support?

    Popcorn, foosball table and fruit water? Skip it. Please.
  • Expected number of working hours. Is the candidate expected to work 35 or 40 hours per week?
  • Home office budget and equipment. Provide a budget for home office (or remote) equipment, so candidates can work ergonomically and comfortably.
  • List down the interview process. Give the candidates a clear idea of what they can expect during the interviews. Timeline helps a lot.

    - Initial call with Recruiter (30 minutes)
    - Technical interview (45 minutes)
    - Review and HR call (45 minutes)
  • Avoid Gender specific language.

How long should job descriptions be?

  • Keep it simple, and not several pages long. Should be readable in 60 to 90 seconds.
  • Short paragraphs and sentences.
  • Provide links to resources (Company blog, culture, etc.)
  • Use bullet points and lists
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Does this guarantee more applicants?

It depends. Writing a job description this way improves the chances of getting more applicants. It does not guarantee it. It matters that you choose to post the job advertisement on the correct platform, with the right target audience.

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