How to Write a Job Description
In a recent webinar where we delved into the Effects of the Great Resignation on the AM Hiring Landscape, we discussed how recruitment would play a big role in rebalancing the hiring landscape, part of which starts with how to write a great job description.
In fact, one of the biggest questions that comes up time and time again, is “How to write a job description that will get me the talent I’m looking for”.
Now, we’d often say that, that really depends on what you are hoping to achieve with a new hire – whether it’s diversifying your workforce or looking for an Executive-level hire, there are lots of nuances to consider when advertising a role.
In this guide, we will be taking you through our best advice for writing a job description that will get you the ‘right’ talent, covering the following topics:
People don't buy what you do, but why you do it
Writing the ideal job description starts with understanding how to convey your organization’s purpose and values. As Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do, but why you do it”, so you can imagine that purpose and values plays an important role for candidates when deciding whether to work for your business (or not).
So consider the following:
- How do you present your organization in a job description?
- What will make you stand out?
- What is your Employee Value Proposition?
Now, we’re not suggesting that you write a thesis on what your organization does – it’s quite typical for candidates to research your business before interviewing – but come up with a short snappy line that sells your business to candidates. For example:
Alexander Daniels Global is a fast-paced, high-growth, boutique recruitment company specialized in the innovative fields of Additive (aka 3D Printing) and Digital (aka IoT) Manufacturing .
We believe that these technologies will change lives and our mission is to enable the revolution in those industries through Talent.
This is a great way to introduce your advertised job as it can really set the scene of where the candidate could be working.
We Still Want to Attract the Right People & Skills
As important as it is to sell your organization to potential candidates, we still want to make sure that we are attracting the right people with the right skills – this typically starts with having a clear acquisition plan in place so that you know what you’re looking for, and the job description in an advertisement should then take care of attracting the appropriate candidates.
This should follow a layout like this:
- Start with the company
This is the sell – the hook that pulls the candidate in (see above).
- Move into the role description
This should include features such as job title, job purpose, job duties and responsibilities, required qualifications, preferred qualifications, and working conditions, and should explain to the candidate what their responsibilities would look like and how their skills and experience could support them.
- Cover the role requirements
Job requirements are the skills, education, experience and traits that an employer expects someone to have to be successful in a job position. Hiring managers include job requirements in the posting to decide which candidates they will contact for an interview.
- Don’t forget to tell people how to apply!
This seems obvious, but it’s very important – is there an email address that candidates should send their applications to? What would you like them to include in an application? – a cover letter or will the CV suffice?
If you are posting the job on a job board, direct them to apply through the site where the job is located? or let them know if you would prefer them to apply through LinkedIn.
Writing a Job Description for Retention Hiring
We will always say that retention hiring is the way forward – and most of our clients would agree. Recruitment is a lengthy, time-consuming and costly process – it is an investment which you would hope has positive returns! Therefore, we find hiring for the long-term the best way forward.
This is something we discussed in our recent webinar on The Effects of the Great Resignation on the AM Hiring Landscape.
In the webinar, Nick Pearce (Founder & CEO of Alexander Daniels Global) highlighted the importance of approaching a recruitment process with the long term goals in mind as it fosters a positive workplace culture and ensures both parties, the employer and candidate, get off on the right foot.
We also discussed the benefits of retention hiring on a business, which can be found here.
What about writing job descriptions for diverse hiring?
Since our 2022 AM Salary Survey Report covered Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as our spotlight topic, we decided to run a webinar on the data we collected.
During our conversation with Sarah Goehrke, we covered some key pointers to think about when writing job descriptions for diverse hiring.
- Consider the pronouns you use
- use subjective pronouns so you don’t involuntarily exclude males, or females from applying. It’s a small nuance, but it can make a subconscious impact on a candidate.
- try to consciously use the ‘they’ pronoun when referring to what the successful candidate can expect from the job.
- Be critical of the skills, traits or experiences that you list in the ‘required characteristics’ section of the job description
- Statistically, women will apply to job description where they meet 90-100% of those requirements, where men will apply to a role where they only meet 60% of those requirements
- If you look at the tips above on how to write a job descriptions, you’ll notice that the role description and job requirements are outlined as two separate sections – use them as such.
- Pay attention to how you are promoting the job listing
- Try to diversify the different channels that you are using to list your job as this will help you to widen the reach of your potential audience.
- Try to readdress your preconceptions of what the ‘ideal candidate’ looks like.
- Try to eliminate unconscious biases when writing job descriptions, especially when it comes to outlining the types of character traits that the successful candidate should have.
- Perhaps the ‘ideal candidate’ doesn’t match the traits of your pre-existing team members, but offers the missing piece in your team.
If you are interested in learning more about diverse hiring, you can read our Diverse Hiring Best Practice Guide on our blog.
Writing a job description is a simple task – once you’ve got a good process in place.
You can break writing a job description down into 4 key points:
- Start by selling your business with a strong proposition delivered in a short one or two sentences.
- Move on to the job description – this should include what they can expect from the role, the responsibilities and the characteristics that will make a candidate successful in the role
- Outline the role requirements next – this should include the skills, experience or knowledge that is absolutely essential to success in the role.
- Remember to tell your audience how and where to apply for jobs!
If you want to attract more diverse candidates to your roles, the trick is all in the way you write the job ad – this can look like using neutral pronouns, paying attention to the level of necessity of the required characteristics in the description, and readdressing your idea of what the ‘ideal candidate’ looks like.
If these simple steps are followed, and job ads are written with attention also on the details, there is no reason why you shouldn’t attract the candidates to your role, that will make the difference.
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