3 Things to Remember When Writing a Job Description

3 Things to Remember When Writing a Job Description

Recruiting and retention has become a big issue for organizations in 2018. The DATIS 2018 State of Workforce Management survey, which received responses from roughly 400 nonprofit executives, found that ‘Recruiting and Retaining Top Talent’ was the number one priority of respondents for the year ahead. To fully address their challenges and achieve their goals, executives understand the need for quality applicants to join their respected teams.

However, to get quality applicants, organization’s need to put time and effort into their recruiting strategies. Unfortunately, it seems that not too many executives are confident that their organization is reaching the right people. Our 2018 State of Workforce Management survey revealed that 41% of executives believe their organization’s ability to attract top talent is ‘poor’ or ‘fair.’ In fact, only 3% of respondents reported that their organization’s ability to attract top talent was ‘excellent.’ To better attract hopeful job seekers that will make a big impact on their organizations, experts are advising executives to focus more time on their job descriptions.

Anyone can write a job description, but writing a job description that attracts the right candidates, to the right jobs, at the right time is easier said than done.
Writing a job description that speaks to the position, organization, and culture simultaneously takes time, collaboration, and a fine attention to detail. To help you write the perfect job descriptions for your current and future job openings, I’ve included three tips, which I like to call the “The 3 C’s of Writing a Job Description,” below.

Keep it Concise  
When it comes to job descriptions, less is more. According to a study by careers site TheLadders titled “Shedding Light on the Job Search,” over 80% of job seekers spend less than 5 minutes reviewing a job posting. The study went on to reveal that the average time spent on a job posting is between 49.2 to 76.7 seconds. This means that organizations have a small window to explain their opening, educate the job seeker on their organization, and encourage that job seeker to apply. One way to do this is to make this when writing a job description is to reduce, or eliminate, the frills.

This doesn’t mean that all you need is a couple sentences, you’ll still need to include the job title, an overview of the organization, the job’s core responsibilities, candidate requirements, and a list of benefits offerings. With that said, too many job descriptions go overboard with drawn out messaging that dances around the main objective of the posting. However, given that applicants spend about a minute on average reviewing a job listing, this approach can result in important information being skimmed over a missed. Keeping to short, concise bullet points when writing a job description are ideal for today’s job seekers.

Keep it Clean
When it comes to job listings and descriptions, aesthetics matter. When posting a job description to a job board such as Indeed, CareerBuilder, or Monster, it’s important to make sure that the description looks visually appealing and compels job seekers to read through the posting and take your organization seriously. This means avoiding big blocks of texts, removing excess line spaces, using proper grammar and punctuation, and making sure that all bullet points are in line. These tactics make it easier for potential candidates to read through your job description and understand what your organization does, what the role is asking of them, and what they’ll need to be considered.

Unfortunately, when posting to different career sites, it’s not as simple as copying and pasting. Doing so doesn’t always guarantee that formatting will remain the same, and creating your job description within the site itself makes the listing more prone to errors. To really gain complete control over their job listings and descriptions, today’s executives are implementing recruiting software that automatically posts their job openings on to top job boards. Once posted, the ‘Apply’ button links back to their organization’s own careers page, where the job seeker can then complete their application. This approach not only helps keep formatting clean, but also allows executives to include more intimate details about their organization, showing off company culture, including pictures of the office, and so on.

Keep it Consistent
 This brings me to my next and final point, which is the importance of consistency. Having a consistent brand message across all your job listings sends a confident message to potential applicants, and avoids confusion if job seekers were to view multiple positions from your organization. This is especially true for organizations hiring for numerous positions at once. The DATIS 2017 Executive Priorities report found that 72% of organizations are hiring for five or more positions simultaneously, with 47% of organizations hiring for at least ten. Obviously, the responsibilities, requirements, and even benefits may vary from one position to the next, but the organizational overview, culture description, and other static information should remain constant.

One way to make sure that you maintain consistency when writing a job description is to create a template and stick to it for all future listings. You can find simple, easy to follow templates online, like this one found on TheBalance, to help guide you through the basics. Make sure that when creating a template for your organization, that you’re including room for additional information to be added for certain positions. Getting with a inside marketing or communications specialist to review the template will help project the organization’s voice in its messaging.

Writing a job description is an important aspect of the recruiting process. Job descriptions that lack specificity will likely bring in the wrong candidates. This is not only a waste of time, but given the costs of a bad hire, it is also a waste of valuable resources. To ensure that your organization is reaching the right people at the right time, you must follow the three C’s of writing a job description; keep it concise, keep it clean, and keep it consistent.

Written by James Clark