How to Write a Job Description that Works to Find You Great Candidates
Hiring an employee for your business doesn’t have to be stressful. Just follow these tips for writing a job description, and you’ll be on your way to hiring an A+ employee.
By: Catherine Conlan
Your business is growing, and now it’s time to hire! First, congratulations are in order: Every new employee represents a major step forward for a business.
You may feel like you know exactly what you need from this new hire, but developing a formal job description will help you more fully understand what you’re looking for—and that will help you find the right person to fill that role. A good job description will even do some of the hiring work for you by encouraging candidates who aren’t a good fit for the job to self-select out of the process.
That’s a big plus for time-strapped companies. “As small-business owners, we don’t necessarily have a big HR department that can run through 400 resumes—time is money. The more clarity you have on the front end helps ease the entire process,” says Mori Taheripour, principal at MT Global Strategies, a business consulting group based in Washington, D.C., and a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, where she teaches negotiation and conflict resolution.
Use these steps to create job descriptions that attract people who will be as committed as you are to taking your business to the next level.
Cover the Basics and in the Right Order
Much like a menu, your job description needs to be simple and clear. This will increase the likelihood that job seekers will read it from top to bottom and come away with a clear understanding of the job. Include some mouth-watering details, and follow a logical format, starting with the job title and ending with a call to action. Monster’s hiring experts recommend that you structure the information in the following order:
1. Job Title
Avoid “made-up” titles that include uncommon words which will negatively impact your job’s ranking in search results. When you post a job on Monster, the job title field will prompt you with recommended titles to help you make the best choice.
This is your opportunity to communicate your company’s value proposition. What exactly does your business do, and what makes you special? Cater your pitch to your ideal candidate so they can imagine what it will be like to work for your company.
Think of this as a high-level overview of the job’s main responsibilities that will help the job seeker know if the position is right for them. Include relevant keywords to help your posting be found in search results.
Requirements are the “must-haves” for the applicant to get the job; preferences are the “nice to have” qualities. Providing both will help candidates gauge how their own skills and experiences measure up to your vision of a superstar employee. Be specific about the skills and education that are required for the role and where there’s some flexibility.
Include primary benefits (healthcare, 401k, etc.) as well as secondary benefits that are unique to your company (flexible work options, child care support, etc.) These will help set your company apart from the competition.
6. Call to Action
Make it super easy to apply to the job by including a direct link to the application. This will encourage users to apply and make it easier for you to track applicants on Monster. With a Monster job posting, the apply button is pinned to your job in both the desktop and mobile view so the seeker always sees it.
To get the basics right, check out Monster’s Sample Job Descriptions, and also search for actual ads on Monster with the same title. Specifically look for ads in the same field or location as yours. That way you can have a sense of what your competitors are seeking.
Bring Your Job to Life
As you write your job description, keep your ideal applicant in mind. Provide enough information and description to help him or her visualize themselves in the position. The better you can articulate the desired characteristics and experience you want, the more targeted potential candidates will be, Taheripour says. And that will help simplify and potentially shorten your recruiting process.
Candidates want to know what they will do from day to day in your job. Why not feed their curiosity with detailed, colorful descriptions? “It’s important to be as accurate as possible about what the job will entail so the candidate can understand a ‘day in the life,’ ” says Christina Boudreaux, owner and senior talent consultant at Talent Made Simple, an HR consulting firm in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Include information about who the position reports to, who they would work with daily, what tools they will be expected to use and what their output should be. If there’s a training period, explain how long it will be and what it entails.
And if you’re looking for someone to wear multiple hats, note that as well. “Sometimes with small or startup companies there is a lot that can fall into the ‘other duties as assigned,’ ” Boudreaux says. That can be a plus for enterpreneurial-minded Millennials who are hungry to know how business works. If that’s the case, be open about this opportunity to let interested applicants know that they need to be flexible and adaptable to succeed in this role, she says.
Finally, as a small business, you may not be able to compete for talent with larger companies on pay so think about what aspects of your culture might be appealing to a candidate and talk about those in the job description. For example, if your management style is such that you give employees a lot of ownership of their work or you allow for a lot of flexibility in schedules, say so.
Define Success at Your Organization
Your company is a unique community of people and values. Be sure that your job description reflects those unique characteristics to help set seekers expectations, says Jodie Shaw, chief marketing officer at The Alternative Board, a peer advisory board service headquartered in Westminster, Colorado.
As you start jotting down the attributes of the job, Shaw recommends describing your ideal candidate, “not just with the experience, education and skills they possess, but also with the behaviors they will need to fit into your culture. For instance, if your company’s culture places a value on people who don’t take themselves too seriously or have a work-hard/play-hard value, spell that out in the job description.”
To really make your job description shine, include some details about how the candidate can advance in six months to a year. If applicable, include specific metrics that the person in the role should accomplish, as well as information about potential growth opportunities for greater autonomy or leadership. This type of detail is likely to get the attention of career-driven Millennials and Gen Z job seekers and signals to them that your company promotes from within.
An engaging job description will go a long way to help you attract the talent you need to grow and sustain your company. But there’s an added benefit: Besides making a great impression on job seekers, your ad will enhance your company’s brand and reputation with potential future customers.
Now that you've mastered how to write a job description, why not get started? A Monster Job Ad makes it easy to post a job online. You’ll also receive up to 20 recommended resumes from Monster’s extensive resume database, helping you find the talent you need more quickly.