Writing Job Descriptions that Convert
When it comes to contract and direct hiring, recruiters have a unique set of obstacles in today’s day and age. Between the low unemployment rate, competitive job market, and ever-changing technologies, staffing professionals have their work out cut out for them as they work tirelessly to find the right candidates for their clients.
Job seekers today are drastically different than they were 20 years ago. Modern candidates aren’t just looking for a way to spend eight hours and a paycheck. Instead, the majority are focused on finding a meaningful career with a company that aligns with their personal and professional goals. If you have noticed that your organization’s conversion rates have been dropping, it may be time to review the first step in your recruitment strategy – how your team crafts job descriptions.
Yes, the seemingly simple job post plays an enormous role in your overall hiring process. You may think you are merely outlining the position responsibilities to help job seekers determine whether or not they may be a fit for the job, but there is actually much more involved. You are doing more than just filling a job slot; you are bringing qualified, sought-after candidates together with companies eager for top talent. Consider yourself a career matchmaker.
Writing a job description is both an art and a science. It requires a whole lot of personality paired with considerable research (not unlike online dating profiles.) The perfect career match will include a clear understanding of what job seekers are looking for as well as thoughtful preparations. Let’s start with the big picture by reviewing best practices.
Job Description Best Practices
Describe how the position fits within the company mission:
Remember how we mentioned that candidates want to find purpose within their careers? Use this piece of know-how to your advantage by aligning the job description with the company’s goals. Studies show that employees with a strong sense of purpose are both happier and more driven in their careers.
Include items that candidates care about:
In addition to providing candidates with traditional role responsibilities and necessary qualifications, job descriptions can also act as powerful recruitment marketing assets. Cater to the needs of the candidates by including pertinent information that will impact their career moves. The Harris Poll and Glassdoor recently conducted a survey that found the top factors job seekers look for within a job description:
- Commute Time
- Employee Reviews
Including absolutely everything could get incredibly lengthy. Although there is a lot to cover, nothing turns job seekers away faster than a wall of text. Many will read through the lines and assume the company is either overbearing, filled with a group of micromanagers, or both. Shoot to find a happy medium between providing adequate information and being concise. Data collected from Indeed found that job descriptions between 700 and 2,000 characters typically outperform others.
Take a conversational approach:
If you had to pick a word that best describes your job description, would you say, “boring?” Long gone are the days of static job descriptions that sound like everyone else’s.
Each company is unique, so each job description should follow suit. Rather than monotonously spewing industry jargon, use language that real people would use in real conversations. Using the word “you” rather than “ideal candidate” can also make job seekers feel like the description was written specifically for them. Remember to write the same way you speak.
Your job descriptions should be a reflection for your company’s brand. If the company is considered a fun workplace, be sure to illustrate how the organization keeps the good times rolling. Meanwhile, if your company is always striving for the next level of innovation, use words to inspire a candidate’s entrepreneur from within.
Format for mobile:
Mobile recruiting is not a new phenomenon in staffing. For years, we have been listening to thought leaders telling us that a lot of job searches begin on a mobile device, but just how many is “a lot”? Glassdoor recently conducted a study that found over half of all searches are taking place on their phones, and 35 percent admit that applying on a mobile device is their preference.
Another reason to keep your job description short and concise is that massive blocks of text look especially intimidating on a mobile device when compared to a desktop monitor. Keep everything clean by including appropriate headers, and use bullet points whenever possible. Always keep in mind that we live in a world where the average attention span is only 8 seconds. That doesn’t give you a lot of time to make a memorable first impression.
Now that you know the inner workings of how and what today’s job seekers are looking for in their quests for true career love, let’s pull everything together with the must-have elements of the job description.
Anatomy of a Job Description
Clarity should be the #1 focus of the job title. Rather than posting a position for “Accounting Ninja,” stick with “Financial Manager.” Avoid terms like “guru,” “magician,” or “hero.” While creativity is admired and appreciated, people still look for more traditional roles when job hunting, and will be more likely to click on the listing with the more well-known title.You’ll also want to stay away from internal lingo that may not resonate with the job seeker. Most people will not understand the “II” or “V,” that immediately follow a title. Stick with universal terms like “Junior” or “Senior.”
The job summary is your chance to win the attention of your reader. Accurately describe the expectations of the role and include a bit of information about your company. Identify what makes the company unique and define the culture, but don’t drag on and on. For bonus points, you’ll want to include the job location to optimize for proximity-based searches.
Roles & Responsibilities
Clearly outline the role, but don’t get too hung up on the specifics. Consider that those you are attracting have done the job before. At this point in the game, it’s not imperative to describe each person the role will report to or how often reports are prepared each week. Touch on a few activities involved for the day to day tasks and leave the rest for the interview.
Skills & Qualifications
When creating your list of skills and experience, separate them into what is absolutely essential, and what would be nice to have. In this section, you can also include any specific education requirements as well as character traits that will mesh well with the current team structure. After developing the list, pare it down – then do it again as it’s easy for these lists to go over the top and get out of control.
Remember to be mindful of the seniority level. For instance, if you are hiring an entry-level position, skip the cumbersome requirement list. Chances are, an industry newcomer is not going to have tons of experience. Avoid setting impossible standards, which is not only bad for your brand, but will likely limit your candidate search.
Although this is an area that many recruiters would rather shy away from, including a range will give your company some serious competitive advantage. Recruiters need to realize that earning potential is at the forefront of job seekers’ minds. Fulfill their need for salary expectations by providing a general range or include a “based on experience level” statement.
For recruiters looking to increase the number of conversions on your job descriptions, the best advice we can give you is to be honest. The companies that both attract and convert job seekers are those who have a solid understanding of the role and what the ideal candidate is looking for in their job search. The biggest challenge will be in differentiating the position from the competition. With a little time and research, companies can work to develop a branding strategy that gets results.
If you’re looking to put your best foot forward, contact the team at Staffing Nerd to take your employer branding to the next level!