Writing an Ad that Sells: How to Create Effective Job Descriptions

  • workforce insights
  • July 24, 2013
  • Job Hunting
  • Hiring
  • Job Interviews

Have you ever posted a new job listing online and dealt with thousands of applications flooding in?

Sifting through waterfalls of resumes and cover letters is a daunting task that can take eons. With so many choices, what if the perfect candidate slips through the cracks?

The answer to finding the right employees isn’t only in the way you filter, it’s in how you explain the job to begin with. There are other ways to engage applicants outside of creating a specific, readable, well-formatted posting; describing the company culture, benefits, and what it’s really like to work there will draw in qualified candidates.

Step One: First Impressions Matter
First impressions matter; candidates judge job posting books by their covers. The first step to writing a great job post is defining the work right out of the gate with a descriptive title and summary. Titles should accurately reflect the job seniority level (assistant, senior, etc.), and one to three sentence summaries should provide a snapshot of main responsibilities. Be clear about whether the job is full time, part time, paid internship, or unpaid internship.

Step Two: Be Exact, Use Strong Action Verbs
With great power comes great responsibility. List five to 10 key responsibilities using strong, present tense action verbs (“coordinate X and Y teams” or “coach new hires”). Illustrate exactly what percentage of time specific duties will take so applicants have a good idea of what each day will entail.

Step Three: State What You Want; Don't Ignore Salary and Benefits
Be precise about qualification requirements, and don’t ignore salary and benefits. Headline which qualifications are required and which ones are preferred. This includes computer knowledge, industry experience, education, certifications, licenses, and any other technical proficiencies.

Whenever possible, include information about salary range, health benefits, savings benefits (401k), flexible work options, and vacation time.

Step Four: Share Basic Info About Your Company
Who will they be working for? Use a short paragraph to outline some basic information about your company, such as industry, size, goals, and headquarters. You can also list the number of states and countries where the business has presence. Include a few details about who the candidate would report to, such as where they stand in the corporate structure, and whether you have a mentorship program to help them connect and grow.

Finding the right fit for your culture boosts engagement. According to Randstad’s Engagement Study, employees who mesh with their organization’s culture are happier and more productive. In April 2013, 74 percent of workers were proud to work for their organization. Those who were content were also more engaged; nearly the same number, 76 percent, felt inspired to do their best. You can convey culture by describing it outright or by wording your overall job posting with a corporate, inspired, or personal tone.

Salary and day-to-day tasks matter, but giving your job description a little personal flair to reflect what a company is really like to work for will attract candidates who can’t wait to be part of the team. After all, isn’t getting a handful of stellar applications better than sorting through thousands of duds?