When it comes to finding top technical talent in today’s market, the quality of your job description directly determines the caliber of candidates that apply. Especially now, against the backdrop of the pandemic where more top candidates are actively job searching than have been in several years, a great job description can work twice as hard for you. But job descriptions are hard to get right. Too long and candidates lose interest. Too short and you’ll seem evasive. Save yourself the guesswork and consider these three things for writing job descriptions that will attract and retain talent for your team.


Spruce Up Your Title

Think about the last time you actively applied for a job. You probably glanced over five, ten, maybe twenty job descriptions each day, quickly weeding out the ones that weren’t a fit or didn’t interest you. According to LinkedIn, people spend only an average of 14 seconds looking at job descriptions before deciding whether or not to apply. But before you looked at the description, what was it that made you click on the posting in the first place? The title.


The title can make or break your job description. With over 25 million jobs listed on Indeed alone, you need to stand out. Something general like “Software Developer” might show up in a lot of searches, but so will the thousands of other Software Developer roles in your area. Consider including some specifics around the job function or seniority level, and leverage keywords or phrases that are unique to your open role. “Senior Java Developer for Kansas City Startup”, for example, will get you better results.


Alternatively, if you’re too specific with your title, your job description won’t show up in anyone’s searches. Avoid using any internal titles or phrases that aren’t industry-standard, as this will also lower your odds of showing up in search results.


What’s in It for Them?

Indeed suggests that job descriptions between 700 and 2,000 characters see up to 30% more applicants. In those 700-2000 characters, your job description should of course outline the experience needed, the responsibilities and functions of your role, but the piece most often forgotten: what’s in it for them?


Even in today’s unpredictable hiring landscape, top talent is difficult to attract and engage. It can be tough to distance yourself from the role you’re so excited to fill when you’re already dreaming about the workload this person will ease from your team, or the new projects you’ll be able to take on with their help. But this is still a candidate’s market, and as such, you need to put yourself in the candidate’s shoes and ask yourself why the type person you want to hire would want this role. Does your company offer perks? Is this a great launchpad for someone’s career? Will they get to work on interesting projects? These are the questions to keep in the back of your mind and sprinkle answers to throughout your job description.


Don’t Shoot Yourself in the Foot

You can write a fantastic job description chalk-full of buzzwords and perks, but if it’s not accurate to the role you’re hiring for, you’re setting yourself and your team up for failure. The job description is likely the candidate’s first interaction with your company. It sets the expectations for the interview, the role, and everything beyond. If you write job descriptions that are outdated, or worse, intentionally misleading to attract applicants, you’re going to get yourself into trouble.


Not only is the accuracy of your job description important from a legal perspective, it is often an under-utilized tool for performance reviews, bonus qualifications, and more. Think of it as a sort of contract between you and the candidate. If your job description accurately outlines the duties and responsibilities associated with the role, and you find the person you hire isn’t fulfilling those responsibilities, or is fulfilling them beyond your expectations, it’s much easier to have conversations around performance plans or raises down the road.


From a candidate’s perspective, your job description sets the expectations for their role. If your job description boasts autonomy when in reality the team manager has a compulsion for peering over shoulders, or if it talks about a mentorship program without anyone willing to actually mentor the new hire, you’re going to find this position has a lot of turnover. Misaligned expectations can make a candidate feel hoodwinked. Don’t start a relationship off on the wrong foot by misleading or masking the realities of your open role.


When writing job descriptions, these tips will help, but the truth is, the perfect job description doesn’t exist. The perfect candidate for your open role does. Contact us if you’re already following these best practices but still can’t find the right person for your team. We can help!