Clean and Quick: Improve Your Job Descriptions and Get Better Applicants

By Charlie Losche

You’re a great employer. I know it, and you know it, but the person that’s searching job board after job board for their next role has no idea who you are.

Improve Your Job Descriptions and Get Better Applicants
Unfortunately, this is true for almost every company out there. Unless you’re as big of a name as Google or Facebook, chances are the first time an applicant hears about your company is when they read your job listing. It’s vital that you share what’s great about your company, and why your position is perfect for the right candidate, but a 3 page-long overview of your company, the job, and a laundry list of expectations will get glanced over in an instant.

With a record 7.3 million unfilled jobs in the US, you need to make sure your job description is both exciting and informative, without writing the next version of War and Peace. After reading thousands of job descriptions, all of us at The Hiring Engine have identified 5 key parts of a job description, and developed best practices for each.

1. High-level overview of the position

 Vanessa Bakewell, client partner for film and music at Facebook and Instagram, said that you only have “three seconds” to grab someone’s attention. People are “scrolling so quickly and under-25s scroll faster than everybody else!” This applies to your job description just as much as it applies to digital marketing, though we can help you with that too!

The first thing the applicant reads should explain what the job is, cover why it's awesome and someone would want it, and define what type of person would be great at it. All of this should be done in as few words as possible, like the examples below.

Driving Position:

Are you looking for a great paying local driving job with benefits that doesn't require past professional driving experience? 
  • They specify that the job is primarily a driving position (what the job is)
  • It’s a great paying, local gig (why it’s awesome)
  • The job doesn’t require past driving experience (what type of person can do the job)

Customer Service Position:

We're looking for a Customer Service Representative with some Inside Sales experience to start a new career in Auburn, MA.
As a member of our Customer Service/Inside Sales team, you will be challenged to quickly build rapport in a competitive environment without making a single cold call.
  • The job is a customer service position that will involve sales (what the job is)
  • The job is challenging, and doesn’t require new hires to cold call (why it’s awesome)
  • The job needs applicants to have past sales experience, and applicants need to be located near Auburn, MA (what type of person can do the job)

2. Who you are

This is your elevator pitch. In one sentence, what does your company do and why are you the best at it? A single, engaging statement that defines the features that set your company apart is all you need to catch the eye of your next hire. Anything beyond that is just fluff, and should be on your linkedin page or your website if they want to learn more.

When you think through what to include, highlight what makes your company unique. Do you have a specific mission that you are working towards, or a business model focused on supporting the common good?

Guild Education, an education startup based in Colorado, uses a specific formula to highlight their business’ success and increase applicant interest

Guild is increasing economic mobility for working adults by partnering with the largest employers in the country to offer education as a benefit to their employees via our marketplace of nonprofit universities and education institutions.

Their pitch works because it:

  1. says who they are (Guild Education)
  2. Highlights their unique goal (increasing economic mobility for working adults)
  3. Covers why you might want to work there (a chance to partner with the largest employers in the country to offer education as a benefit)

You may have a business in an entirely different field, but this formula can work for you. Additional aspects you could emphasize include:

  1. If you’re a family-owned company
  2. If you’re an employee-owned company
  3. Your Company’s recent achievements - new growth as a company, business awards, etc.
  4. Why YOU like working there - great atmosphere, amazing coworkers, supportive managers, etc.

3. What they will do in the role

Always be realistic about what the job entails and what the primary responsibilities of the role are. Retention issues can appear if someone goes into a role expecting to lead company strategy, when they’re only responsible for the shop room. You want to provide detail, but don’t go too in depth here. This section should only touch on the types of work that are likely to come up in an average day.

It’s up to you how you want to share this info, but a bulleted list is both clean and concise. Since you want to maintain interest on the part of the applicant, try and isolate the main 5-6 responsibilities that are unique to the job. As soon as you start including duties that might come up, you’re not really describing the core job anymore

4. Experience and Qualifications for the position

As an employer, you likely care about an applicant's qualifications more than anything. At the same time, a great employer can recognize talent and hard work, and is willing to cultivate it in their employees. Qualifications and Experience should act as a baseline for what you hope to see from a strong candidate, not outline the perfect applicant. Investing time and effort into training a new hire that meets your baseline can pay off in spades, especially when it comes to retention and morale.

These qualifications and experience should be easily defined, typically as “hard” skills or a necessary level of education to be competent at the job. What skills and experience does an employee need to have? Do the need an accounting degree, a specific license, or a required number of years of relevant experience? Define those, and list only them.

Once you’ve bulleted the “need to haves”, think through what “soft” skills are helpful for the role. Drivers need to be hard working, payroll specialists need to be organized, and general managers need to be able to stay calm under pressure. These can help you understand what you are looking for from a candidate, but very rarely will someone decide to apply solely off of this. Very few people think they aren’t organized, or will admit that they fall apart in stressful situations.

5. What you can do for them

Eighty-two percent of those surveyed agree that benefits are a huge part of what makes an organization competitive in today’s job market. Job-seekers need to know what they’re going to be doing in a new role, but their incentive to click apply comes from knowing how you will serve them. This is your moment to let loose. What are all the great aspects of your company? Great health insurance? Tell them just how good it is! 401k retirement plan? put it in bold! Allow dogs at your office? the people want to know!

Even if you don’t offer a 10% retirement contribution or have an on-site gym, you should always mention salary. Including your hourly or annual rate will benefit in two ways: it makes job boards push the position higher, increasing the number of people that see your job, and it weeds out candidates that are expecting a different compensation package from what you are offering.

More than anything, be honest about what you provide your employees, and get job-seekers excited about how you can help them. A short job description that really demonstrates why the company is a great place will be more effective than anything else you can do. Once you have the applicant's interest and their application, you need to maintain the momentum. The Hiring Engine provides multiple services, like automatic outreach, to keep you at the top of a candidate’s mind. If you want to learn more about how The Hiring Engine helps companies higher more high quality job seekers, click here.