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6 tips to writing the perfect job description

6 tips to writing the perfect job description

Recently, I outlined what it takes to hire and retain the best talent. It is all about the culture, the job description and the initial screen.

The culture is the most important piece to the puzzle. It determines the style of person that will be successful in your organization. Once you define the culture, you need to do something that will attract them. The job description will give you a tool to do just that, if it is written well.

I’d like to provide you with six tips that will make your job description stand out against all the other out there.

1. Stand out.

The first piece to standing out against everyone else’s ad is to, well, stand out. You need to catch the candidate’s eye. Once you have defined your culture, think about the type of candidate that you want to attract. What appeals to them? Write some direct questions that will appeal to your target audience. For example, if you are looking for an employee that cares about the planet, use a question like, “Do you want to work for a growing company that wants to make the planet a better place?” This introduction is vitally important. It needs to immediately catch your target audience’s eye and explain the qualities that your company has.

2. What is required for the job and what qualities do would you like to see?

There are always certain qualities the successful person must bring to the table. For example, if you are looking for a Director of Human Resources, it might require them to have licensure. But what qualities do you prefer to see in someone? Keep this list short. If you have too many preferred qualities, you might turn away a very good candidate. No one is going to match every single preferred quality that you want. Be open to keeping that list small.

3. Brevity is your friend.

You never want to go over 800 words in a job description. And you never want to be under 400 words. A successful job description should have up to five required competencies as well as the basics: education, licensure, experience and managerial experience.

4. Make the post sound like your company or organization.

The personality and culture of the company need to be infused in the job description. If you are a fun-loving company, then use words that show that. If you are the Centers for Disease Control, you probably don’t want to sound quite as fun. This will help the candidate get an idea of the company they are applying to. Another important piece to this is that when writing it, do not use “we” but instead use “you.” People love to think of things in terms of themselves.

5. Court the candidate.

You are not the only job your candidate is applying to. You might want to think that way, but it would be prideful to believe that. You need to stand out from the crowd if you plan on getting a date with the candidate. Pictures or graphics help set the scene. Make sure you are using proper grammar and spelling. Use bullet points to help break up information and allow an easier transition on the candidate’s eyes.

6. Keep it simple.

The application process needs to be easy for the candidate. If there is an online app and assessment process then make sure the process is simple. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had a client have such a cumbersome application process that 90 percent of the candidates don’t make it through. After a month or so, that client will reach out to me and upgrade the status to “urgent” because they are not getting enough qualified candidates. When the app/assessment process is too difficult, then you will not get the candidates you expect.

Once the culture and job description is written, prepare to have candidates that you are excited about coming to you. Next week, we’ll look at the initial phone screen so that you can make sure that you get only the best candidates in front of you.

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