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Hiring? Write a Better Job Description for Better Applicants

Hiring? Write a Better Job Description for Better Applicants
Credit: Gonzalo Aragon/Shutterstock

Wondering why you're not getting great job applicants? You might want to take a closer look at how you write your job descriptions.

As an employer, you should focus on attracting the right talent, and your job listings are critical to recruiting quality workers – you don't want to fill them with cliches or fluff. In fact, just a few minor changes to the wording in your job posting can improve the size and quality of your applicant pool, according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Business and Psychology.

So how do you create a more effective job description to attract the right candidates? Don't scare potential employees away with too much information. Business owners and career experts outlined the basics.

A good job description goes deeper than a typical list of skills and requirements. To attract the highest-quality and best-fit applicants to your position, give them a feel for your company culture, said Jean Cook, a former business coach for The Alternative Board.

Rebecca Barnes-Hogg, founder and CEO of YOLO Insights, shared similar views, stating that quality employees will invest in businesses that reflect their own interests and values.

"They want to understand your products and what you stand for," she said. "Your ad needs to tell them that. The first few sentences need to capture the candidate's attention. Like any effective sales pitch, make it about them and their interests."

Jaynine Howard, founder and career strategist at Strategic Success Formula, recommends being upfront about salary in a job description. Many applicants will turn down an offer at the last minute after being informed of the pay, she added. Clearing this up from the start will prevent you and your applicants from wasting time.

Michael Lan, senior resume consultant at Resume Writer Direct, recommends including directions for applying that contain a specific call to action.

"This serves as a built-in screening process, as you will be able to weed out applicants who are not able to follow directions and demonstrate a clear lack of attention to detail," he said.

When you sit down to write your job description, you'll want to use a tone that represents your company's brand, said Joseph Terach, co-founder of Resume Deli. For instance, if you're searching for creative employees, make your job posting quirky and amusing.

However, you should avoid using jargon. Even great candidates don't always know the ins and outs of your business before reading your job description, said Shayleen Stuto, human resources and business manager at TechnologyAdvice.

"Don't assume that they'll know industry lingo or abbreviations," Stuto said. "Spell those things out and provide plenty of context about what your company actually does."

Since many people are distracted and rushed today, they will likely respond better to listings that are easy to read or scan, especially on mobile devices. Don't overwhelm your candidates with useless information or lengthy paragraphs. Steve Dempsey, COO of staffing firm Aquent, recommends organizing key responsibilities with bullet points and separating sections with descriptive headers.

"Most job seekers are scanning," he said. "They are on the hunt for the right job and will look at a job post and scan the details before deciding to apply, or to ignore it."

Additional reporting by Brittney Morgan. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.


Sammi Caramela

Sammi Caramela has always loved words. When she isn't working as a Business.com and Business News Daily staff writer, she's writing (and furiously editing) her first novel, reading a YA book with a third cup of coffee, or attending local pop-punk concerts. Sammi loves hearing from readers - so don't hesitate to reach out! Check out her short stories in Night Light: Haunted Tales of Terror, which is sold on Amazon.