A special guest post from Melissa Martini, Editor at Three Ears Media
Do you remember back in school when teachers would assign books you just weren’t into? For years I was asked to read books like Jane Eyre and The Grapes of Wrath, but after a couple pages, I was bored to tears. It wasn’t until I got to college and really learned to understand what kinds of literature I liked that I was able to enjoy reading again, diving into genres that were engaging and attractive to me.
Now, I’ve basically majored in reading and writing so clearly, something went right.
I can’t help but think most job descriptions are no different. You’re assigning the same old stories candidates have already heard a million times before. A description of something you’re going to do for 75% of your time shouldn’t be like reading a book you just aren’t that into. It should be like the first time you picked up Harry Potter back in the day and were so immersed that you finished the entire book in one night. Candidates should be excited to work for you and have a clear understanding of what kind of a job they’re applying for.
But most companies just don’t do that, which leaves a lot of room to stand out.
After working on job ads and our latest ebook for the last few weeks, I’m starting to think there’s a formula for what makes a great job description.
There are 2 buckets: Format and Content. And I’ve researched the heck out of both just for you.
Length and detail: Be concise, but specific. The job title should be something that is clear and recognizable by the industry, not just your employees. Also, there is a sweet spot for job ads. The ones that are between 700 and 1100 words get 24% more applies.
Tone and organization: Use short, conversational sentences that address the candidate directly. This helps them visualize working with you. When it comes to different sections of the job description, create original headings and separate lists of “must haves” and “nice to haves” with few bullets. Less than 5, ideally, or you’ll turn off female candidates.
Language and creative content: Avoid using buzzwords that might leave the candidates confused and lost. Alongside your job description, include photos and videos of the work environment. Did you know that job posts get 36% more applications if they’re accompanied by a recruiting video?
So, we know there are five big considerations job seekers take into account before accepting a job offer. That’s what you want to put in your job ad.
Salary, compensation, and benefits: Include details on compensation packages and benefits packages. 52% of candidates feel that competitive compensation packages are the most attractive detail to include in a job description. Remember: candidates need to know how a job will benefit not only their work, but their lives.
Career and company growth: Not only do candidates want to know what the future plans are for your company, they also want to know how they can grow while working at your company. 31% of candidates consider the most attractive job perk to be growth and advancement opportunities.
Work-life balance: It’s good to include information regarding work-life balance. It sends the message that your company understands that life doesn’t revolve around work when companies accommodate different productivity and work styles. With 85% of employees / job seekers expecting their employer to support them in balancing their life between work and personal commitments, it’s worth a sentence, don’t you think?
Location and commute: Not only should your job description include an exact location so that it appears higher in search results, you should mention any work from home options. Talking about the commute is important, too, since 21% of candidates consider ease of commute to be the most attractive info to include in a job ad.
Company details, culture, values, and personality: A job description should also include a description of your company to grab a candidate’s attention – what makes your company unique? Include basic company information because 37% move on to another job if they can’t find info on the company, so including that info yourself saves them time and provides them with what they want to know.
From the format and style to the actual content of the job description, there are countless ways to make sure your description is great. With 72% of hiring managers say they provide clear job descriptions and only 36% of candidates agree, there’s definitely some room to grow.
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.