How to write a job description – actionable tips to attract the right candidates

What to include to attract your ideal candidate, and things to avoid when writing a job description

Carly Chalmers

Crafting a compelling job description is vital for getting the most qualified candidates in the door. It should be engaging, inclusive and urge the right people to apply. A job ad is also where you market your company and showcase your brand. And first impressions are essential.

Keep in mind that the more detailed a job post is, the easier it is to rank higher on Indeed. With more than 25 million jobs listed there, a job description needs to be eye-catching and have accurate details. Of course, the same applies to any other job boards that you use as well.

Below are some pointers for you to consider when creating an effective job description.

The best candidates are already in demand - why should they apply?

Rather than getting a high volume of applications, you want the best-qualified candidates to apply. The job ad should be both professional and relatable; that’s why you should create it with your ideal candidate in mind.

Grab their attention by highlighting the positives of the job role and the company as a whole. What are the main benefits? Great work environment? Flexible hours? Ability to work from home? If you’re unsure, ask your employees for help.

Include wages in your ad

One of the most common frustrations people have when searching for a job is the salary not being displayed in the ad. Qualified candidates are looking for opportunities that will match their salary needs. There’s no reason to conceal the salary; doing so only suggests that you’re paying less than the industry standard.

You don’t need to include exact numbers, but if you add the realistic pay bracket your ad will immediately be more compelling.

Your ad is a reflection of your company

Create a more compelling ad by using the right words and phrases. A job ad that’s poorly written will be off putting to many job seekers. If you’re not confident in your writing abilities, get someone to help. Here are some quick tips to enhance the writing:

  • Don’t bore the reader with a wall of text. Keep it punchy, clear and descriptive. Break the text up into paragraphs, so it’s easier to read.
  • Use language that reflects your company and brand voice.
  • Be inclusive and attract diversity by stating that you’re hiring applicants who are BIPOC, LGBTQ, or may have a criminal record.
  • Read through the ad many times (preferably out loud) to find inaccuracies and grammatical errors.
  • Make sure the job title is precise and clear, with key phrases that describe the role. Avoid using internal lingo or non-traditional titles (such as "rockstar engineer" or "copywriter unicorn," etc.)

Include only the critical information

Candidates generally skim job ads, looking for what’s most relevant. By only including and listing necessary information, your ad will be much easier to read and understand. While it can be tempting to add countless qualifications and requirements, try to keep the list concise. Relevant things to include may be:

  • a strong and appealing job summary, including an overview of the company and the expectations for the job role
  • the exact location of the job
  • a clear description of the position, including responsibilities and duties
  • a list of the hard skills and soft skills you’re looking for in a candidate. Hard skills can be technical knowledge or other easily defined and measurable skills, often gained by training or education. Soft skills are more about personality traits and habits that shape how you work, such as effective communication, creativity, problem-solving, etc.
  • qualifications, like required or preferred job experience and education

Tell a story that excites

While you want to keep the writing concise and to the point, a captivating story will give a spark to an otherwise dull job ad. It can be an excellent way to provide background information and show off the creative side of your company.

By using storytelling, you’ll also paint a clear picture, helping the applicant visualize what it would be like working for your brand. Highlight what makes your company unique – how would you sum it up in a few words? You can also include things you do as a team to create a pleasant atmosphere.

What to avoid when writing a job description

Using clichés and business lingo

A job ad scattered with clichés will come across as uninventive and generic. On top of that, they aren’t very descriptive, leaving the applicant unsure about the position and what it entails. If you stick to using everyday language, you’ll end up with a more precise and exciting job ad.

Promising more than you can deliver

It may be tempting to entice candidates by stretching the truth a bit to make the job sound extra appealing. While focusing on positives is a good thing, overpromising on what you can deliver is a big no-no. Applicants will find out eventually, and you risk having to start the hiring process again.

Being too mysterious

A bit of creativity and originality in a job ad can go a long way. It means you stand out from the crowd and grab the applicant’s attention. However, don’t push it so far that this affects the clarity of your ad. Applicants should never be in doubt about what they’re applying for.

Discrimination

To ensure you’re inclusive and fair in the job ad, consider adding an Equal Opportunities Employer Statement (EEO). You also need to use language that reflects the EEO, so it’s not just an empty statement. Unconscious bias can easily sneak in and make qualified candidates feel excluded. Aim to have gender-neutral and unbiased language to show that your company truly stands for equal opportunities.