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Job Description Dos and Don'ts.

  • 07.22.2021

According to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2021, there were 9.2 million job openings while total hires were only at 5.2 million, causing a large gap in labor supply and demand. What does this mean for you and your business? In this post-pandemic economy, it’s more important than ever to define your employer brand, market your company through the most effective recruitment channels, and attract top talent within a highly competitive landscape. 

Candidates have more choices than ever, and many times, the first ‘introduction’ to an opportunity comes in the form of a job description. These seemingly simple descriptions not only positively impact the quality of your new hires, but also improve and streamline your overall hiring process, ensuring that diversity, equity, and inclusion are factored in from the beginning.

Below, we’ve rounded up the most effective best practices for job description creation to help your organization achieve its HR and business goals and discover the right talent for your business needs.

Dive Into Employee Brand and Benefits

Writing job description best practices should always include the benefits of working for your company and the unique ways in which your brand stands out. In other words, infuse your job descriptions with the highlights of your employer brand. This includes your company culture, environment, and history. Many prospective employees aren’t just looking for a quick paycheck. They want to work for an organization that aligns with their ideals, offers some perks, and provides a fun work environment. 

Be sure to highlight the areas in which your company excels.  What makes your organization a more interesting place to work than other companies hiring for similar roles? Do you offer unlimited vacation time? Gourmet food in the cafeteria? Allow pets in the office? Let employees opt for remote work if they choose? Consider your most appealing workplace perks and develop more ways to sweeten the deal.

Create Winning Job Titles 

Job titles are the first introduction that candidates have to your job, so they need to be engaging. When writing a job title, consider what will be most attractive to your ideal candidate, followed by the keywords that must be included for that specific job. For instance, it might be tempting to title a job something clever like “Marketing Guru” or “Publicity Wizard,” but those titles won’t rank nearly as well as if you include the actual name of the role, i.e., “Marketing Director” or “PR Manager.” 

Candidates like job descriptions that highlight their specializations, so try to get specific with your titles. Include something relevant about the job in the title itself, such as “Social Media and Digital Communications Manager.”

The job title should also contain the most commonly used and accepted title for that role, even if your company’s specific needs make it a little different from other roles. You want to make sure that qualified candidates find it in a search, and without the common role named in the title, it can get lost in the noise of online job postings. 

Avoid the Third Person

Try incorporating more “we” and “you” statements into your post. Listings that use the third person tend to feel more formal and stiff. Right now, job listings that talk more about the company than the applicant are performing the best with candidates. This means using plenty of “we” statements. Candidates, especially Millennials and Gen Zers, are showing a huge interest in a company’s culture and values, so it makes sense that they want to feel like you’re speaking directly to them and their individual talents.

Avoid Jargon

Don’t clutter your job descriptions with industry or technical jargon. It’s not interesting to read, and it ends up making your post seem like a cookie-cutter description instead of calling out what is unique about you. This language may also turn potential candidates away from applying who may not have industry experience, but who check other boxes that are important for the job. To avoid this, use a conversational voice that’s upbeat and accessible. The personality you exude and demonstrate in your job description can help set your job apart from all the other postings out there. Try to maintain a personable and friendly approach. 

Keep It Brief

When you’re hiring for a certain position, it can be tempting to use a related job description and simply tack on any necessary additions. Unfortunately, this practice tends to produce lengthy, outdated, and somewhat jumbled job descriptions, and research shows that descriptions that are 300 words or less perform far better than those that are much longer. In other words, a job posting should be just long enough to cover all the necessary information, but short enough to hold a candidate’s attention. 

Show a Commitment to Diversity

Diversity, equity, and inclusion have never been as important as they are right now. Job descriptions that specifically highlight a commitment to fair hiring practices have higher sharing and engagement performance.  Highlighting inclusive benefits, like ERGs or accomodations for disabled employees, will ensure that a broader group of candidates feels comfortable applying. The most progressive companies – and the ones that tend to see the biggest improvement in their hiring – go beyond declaring themselves an “Equal Opportunity Employer.” Create a compelling and personalized message with strong, reasonable accommodation language that represents your company’s hiring fundamentals.

To concretely demonstrate, not just discuss, your understanding of and commitment to DE&I, also make sure to use inclusive language in your job descriptions. This means avoiding gendered language, such as “manpower,” and words with gendered connotations, like “aggressive” and “dominant,” which may discourage women from applying. 

Use Bullet Points

Bullet points are a great way to break up big blocks of text and make a job posting more digestible. However, you don’t want to overdo it. Bullet points are a good choice for listing out firm requirements, giving candidates a visual aid to skim and determine their interest. You can also use bullet points to highlight a few of your benefits and perks. 

Nailing the perfect job description makes hiring faster and easier and helps organizations find the best talent. If your organization could benefit from expertise in this area, especially as rehiring begins to skyrocket, don’t hesitate to reach out.

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