If you’ve decided to post your job on a job board, writing a solid job description is a must. Job descriptions can intimidate, or they can uplift and inspire. For most job seekers, the job description is the first time they hear about your company and your brand, and first impressions count.
The goal of a job description is to set up clear expectations and attract the right talent. But unlike employers spending hours on perfecting a job description, candidates spend about a minute to decide if they want to apply. Here are some tips that can help you craft a job description that will attract strong candidates.
Table of Contents
How to write a perfect job description
Think like a candidate
To write an effective job description, you have to think like a candidate. When job seekers research their options, compensation details and benefits come first. LinkedIn ran a study in 2018 where they showed a job description to 450 members and asked them what parts of the job description would make them more likely to apply. The result was this heatmap below:
This heatmap gives you lots of hints about how to optimize the job description structure. Compensation, location, years of experience, and a number of reports need to be immediately available, while technical skills and job responsibilities is something candidates scan through quickly. Job seekers pay attention to how success in their future role will be measured.
Careerbuilder completed a similar study, and the results were quite similar. Job seekers wanted to see:
- Salary – 74%
- Total Benefits Package – 61%
- Employee Ratings – 46%
- Contact Info of Hiring Manager – 40%
- Work From Home Options – 39%
- Description of Work / Life Balance – 35%
- Photos / Videos of the Work Environment – 31%
- Descriptions of Team Structures and Hierarchies – 27%
- Number of People Who’ve Applied – 25%
While tricky, sharing a salary range could be the simplest way to stand out from the crowd. It helps builds trust and shows to underrepresented candidates that you’re committed to equal pay from the get-go.
When it comes to job titles, don't be special
Effective job descriptions have clear and familiar job titles. It might be tempting to make the job title unique but niche titles leave more room for interpretation. The goal of a job description is to attract the right talent but the talent needs to be able to recognize themselves in your future role, starting with the title. If you’re starting a new category with your job title (like a “No-code operator” or “UI Engineer”), then this is absolutely acceptable but calling a “Frontend Engineer” a “Coding Guru” makes your job less discoverable in search results and less attractive to job seekers.
Make the job description scannable
Help your prospective candidates make fast good decisions. This means that they should be able to find everything that they are looking for in under a minute. Don’t be afraid to bold out some sections, use cursive and other ways to style your text. People read with their eyes, and job descriptions are not an exception. Here is a simple structure you can use:
- About the company and team
- Draft a short intro that includes a brief description of what the team is trying to accomplish. Consider including how this hire will help the team achieve your goals.
- Job requirements
- This section helps you set up expectations. An ideal candidate would want to work on an exciting new problem so the more you can share the better. This is especially true for larger companies that have a good reputation and lots and lots of teams. Clarify exactly what team this hire is going to be joining, and preferably who they will be reporting to.
- What will the day-to-day look like for this hire?
- What teams will they collaborate with?
- Is this a management or IC role?
- Outline what skills are required but don’t go overboard. This includes a degree, years of experience, and the list of skills or technologies that this hire needs to have.
- Perks and benefits
- Hiring process
Now that you’ve got the basics down, let’s talk a bit about the tone and inclusive language.
Describe the day-to-day
Writing job descriptions is art and science, and it should start with talking to colleagues that already do this job. Ask them to describe their day and be specific. Help applicants picture themselves in the role and share detatils about what the job will actually entail. Here are bullet points from job descriptions that did a good job outlining the requirements:
UX Content Strategist
- Collaborating closely with design, product, and research teams to build delightfula user experiences and shape the product roadmap
- Offering UX writing perspective throughout the product development process, improving the overall experience and ensuring consistency
- Creating and advocating for an approachable style of language that best communicates our mission externally
- Developing frameworks, guidelines, and processes to help define and improve UX product content at Robinhood
- Working cross-functionally to deliver necessary content to empower internal teams, including Marketing, Communications, Compliance, Engineering, Operations, Legal, and Customer Experience
- Balancing customer experience and business impact with speed and quality
- Incorporating user research into content decisions for product experiences
- Assuring high quality of content for our products in terms of: simplicity, education, and delightfulness
- Contributing to our Help Center and developing customer support content
- Sharing your work with other Content Strategists and providing feedback during weekly Crit meetings
Senior Account Executive
- Define and execute on a territory attack strategy
- Develop a sales pipeline; manage sales pipeline according to best practice (detailed account plans; SFDC hygiene)
- Drive new client acquisition, revenue and market share in a defined territory or industry vertical to meet / exceed quota
- Contribute to Affirm’s overall go-to-market strategy and direction.
- Help build out resources for team scale and efficiency
- Help develop the sales culture and provide mentorship
Staff Product Designer
- Ideate: Work with Product, Engineering, Research, and Operations to design and visualize the future of our end-to-end customer experience.
- Research: Partner with User Experience Research to conduct user interviews and determine common pain points, product improvements and priorities. Conduct light-weight research independently to inform design decisions.
- Create: Design information architecture diagrams, wireframes, flows, and high-fidelity mock-ups for your features.
- Communicate: Showcase your vision and rationale behind design decisions to stakeholders and your team.
- Collaborate: Work closely with Product, Engineering, and Operations to validate the feasibility of your work and to ensure high-quality implementation.
Why are you hiring? Give candidates context.
Good job descriptions reference the team structure and describe briefly what problem the team is trying to solve. Your ideal candidates are passionate about the problem you’re solving so don’t miss an opportunity to showcase what your company is buildling to attract the right talent. Here are some snippets from featured job descriptions that can help you get started:
Describe what growth looks like at your company
- Leveling & Promotions Square has a robust program in place to ensure that as an engineer you’re always learning, growing, and increasing your impact within the company – regardless of if you’re a new college graduate or a senior engineer with 10+ years of experience. If you want to learn more, check out this post on our engineering blog.
Once you join, Wealthfront will:
- Pair you with a 1:1 mentor to guide you through our structured onboarding program
- Encourage you to lead projects which match your professional goals
- Support your professional development by providing feedback during weekly 1:1s and during our bi-annual reviews
- Give you autonomy so you can be a happy and successful member of our team
What We Offer You:
- A constant stream of new things for you to learn. We’re always expanding into new areas, bringing in open source projects and contributing back, and exploring new technologies.
- A set of awesome hardworking and dedicated peers, all the way from engineering and QA to product management and customer support.
- Growth and mentorship. We believe in growing engineers through ownership and leadership opportunities. We also believe mentors help both sides of the equation.
- A stable, collaborative, and supportive work environment.
- Balanced work environment and workload. Flexible and adaptable work practices to meet the challenges of 2020 and beyond.
Use inclusive language in your job description
Your job description vocabulary matters more than you might think. Here is what Elad Gil says about incorporating diversity language in your job descriptions: “You will never have a diverse employee base if you do not ensure diverse candidates in your funnel. Building a diverse funnel means not only sourcing a broader spectrum of candidates, but also thinking through the language in your job descriptions, how employees are represented on your website, and other factors that will impact who applies”. Multiple studies show that gender-specific words can reduce the number of women applicants. Tools like Textio can help you identify keywords and professional jargon that are hurting your conversion.
In addition to using neutral inclusive language, include a disclaymer highlighting your commutment to diverse non-discrimnative recruiting practices. Here are some examples from the most loved tech companies:
Create a job posting that inspires
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While Anna cut her corporate teeth on the product team at Airbnb, it was her early-stage startup experience that really introduced her to the world of recruiting. While she was growing the team there, she realized how painful, arduous, and challenging recruiting really is. That is, until you find a stellar recruiting team. Today, she leverages her deep recruiting experience as Betterleap’s co-founder and visionary.