How To Write a Job Description That Wins Top Talent in 7 Steps
A hiring manager circles a top candidate on board, discovered by writing a good job description.

Attracting top talent should be a priority for any company. The job description is one of the most important tools that can help achieve this goal. A well-crafted, compelling job description can pique the interest of qualified candidates and encourage them to apply to your organization. 

Of course, writing an exceptional job description is easier said than done. Let’s talk about some key factors to keep in mind as you develop a job description that will attract top talent.

Key Elements in a Winning Job Description

1. Be clear about job duties, requirements, and responsibilities.

The main purpose of any job description is to do just that: describe the job! Therefore, you must be very clear about everything the posted role involves, including day-to-day duties and responsibilities, as well as any requirements that employees must meet (such as using specific equipment or platforms, working conditions, and so forth).

Also, make sure that the purpose of the role is clearly stated. For example, if you’re hiring a project manager, highlight why they’re being brought on board (e.g., to oversee a specific project, implement a new program, etc.).

2. Highlight your company culture.

Cultural fit can be a major factor in a candidate’s job search. It should also be a major component in your hiring strategy. New hires that closely align with your company culture are likely to be more productive and stay with your organization longer.

With that in mind, ensure your job description highlights some key aspects of your culture. For example, does your company encourage volunteering in the local community? Is there an emphasis on work/life balance? Do your team members regularly enjoy “community days” with one another? Consider including these or similar points in your job description to attract the right talent, culturally speaking.

3. Be transparent about the role’s salary and expectations.

Transparency in your job description is absolutely essential for attracting top talent. Logically, one of the first questions that a prospective employee will have about any job posting is: “What’s the salary for this role?” Make sure your job description clearly answers that question, if not with a specific hourly or yearly wage, then at least with a salary band. Be careful not to artificially inflate your salary band with “potential earnings” that employees rarely see in the real world (e.g., unrealistic commissions and bonuses).

Apart from the role’s salary, set clear expectations about what tools or technologies the employee will use. Define what success in the role would look like. Also, “connect the dots” by explaining how the role relates to the company’s mission statement and values.

4. Answer the question “Why?”

To be more specific, answer the candidate’s question: “Why would I want this job?” You’ll need to highlight offerings that are important to candidates, which may include hybrid/remote work, flexible schedules, opportunities for internal promotion within the company, in-depth learning and development courses, etc. 

In addition, consider including employee testimonials as part of your job description. This type of social proof can go a long way in showing why someone would choose to work for your organization.

5. Be concise.

After reviewing the previous sections, you may think that a job description needs to be at least three pages long to be effective. Actually, the opposite is true. The more concise your job description is, the better. Long job descriptions can easily intimidate candidates and drive them away. Short descriptions that cover the main points are much more likely to attract talent to your company.

6. Focus on “must-have” skills rather than “nice-to-have” ones.

For any open role, odds are you have several skills in mind when you think of the “perfect” candidate. However, in your job description, it may be best to narrow down that list of skills to the essentials. It’s very unlikely that you’ll land a candidate who checks every single box on your “ultimate wishlist,” and if you include too many skills as requirements, you run the risk of eliminating several qualified candidates. For example, one study found that men tend to apply for jobs when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, whereas women tend to only apply to jobs when they meet 100% of the listed criteria.

To attract candidates who possess those “nice-to-have” skills, you may want to write two lists for applicants’ consideration. For instance, you could call them Essential and Preferred. That way, you won’t be unnecessarily eliminating qualified candidates from pool but will be showcasing what’s important to you in the context of the role.

7. Add key questions that candidates could use to evaluate their own suitability for the role.

As one final suggestion, consider incorporating opportunities for self-analysis within your job description. For example, you could include questions like:

  • “Am I a motivated self-starter willing to meet deadlines under limited supervision?”
  • “Am I a team player who promotes and facilitates meaningful communication with my co-workers and managers?”
  • “Do I have the following technical skills needed to succeed in this role…?”

The purpose of such questions is to allow prospective candidates to determine whether they’d be a good fit for the job. 

Breathe Life Into Your Job Description and Attract More Candidates

Remember that whenever you’re looking for a new hire, you’re not just posting a job — you’re looking for the right talent to join your team. The more you can “breathe life” into your job description (as opposed to just bullet points on a screen), the better candidates will understand your expectations and preferences, along with the benefits of working for your company. 

Granted, writing a compelling job description can take quite a bit of time and effort. However, it is well worth it. If you need assistance writing or reviewing a job description for your business, contact our hiring experts at The Doyle Group today. We have years of experience helping clients craft a job description that will stand out and attract top talent.

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