How To Write Job Descriptions in the Most Effective Way To Attract Top Talent

by:
on April 25, 2019

Thirty-six percent of job candidates say that job descriptions aren’t clear, while 72 percent of hiring managers believe that they provide clear job descriptions. That’s a striking divergence of opinion, and, here’s what this data tells us: Your job descriptions are likely depriving your talent pipeline of quality candidates.

With a severe skilled labor shortage meaning fewer active job seekers, it’s harder than ever to make strong hires. And of that small pool, most are put off by the large amount of jargon-laden, novelesque, and ambiguous job descriptions out there.

To attract top talent, hiring managers need to know how to write job descriptions in the most effective way, and this means writing them for job seekers, rather than the employer. Refocusing job descriptions to the job seeker audience will result in a higher amount of quality applicants and subsequent strong hires.

In this article, we’ll explore a few areas where hiring managers can improve their job descriptions and win top talent as a result:


Rethink Buzzwords, Jargon and Corporate Lingo
Too Long; Didn’t Read: Tell Candidates What You’re Really Looking For
Inject Life Into Your Job Posting

Rethink Buzzwords, Jargon and Corporate Lingo

“Ninja,” “rockstar,” “genius,” and “guru” were among some of the most common yet weird job titles gracing job descriptions in 2018. While Chief Fun Officers and Customer Service Ninjas may sound quirky and appealing to certain personalities, the truth is: you need to stop using buzzwords.

Firstly, no job seeker is going to be searching for this type of role, so you’re breaking rule number one of job description SEO. Secondly, this vocabulary can be off-putting to a variety of candidates for a variety of reasons—they don’t know what the job entails, they feel the ad is aimed towards men, or don’t think that they can take the company seriously.

How to write effective job titles:

This one’s easy, but isn’t obvious for many hiring managers. Keep job titles short, succinct, and relevant to the position, and make sure they’re unabbreviated and specific. Instead of “Talent Ninja” think “Talent Acquisition Specialist.”

Now, let’s talk corporatese. “Corpora-what??” is what candidates are thinking when they read job descriptions laden with buzzwords and jargon (corporatese means “corporate jargon,” FYI).

A jobseeker’s patience is finite. If they’re an active job seeker, they’re likely reading through masses of job adverts on a regular basis, and it’s your job to cut the jargon so that they can understand exactly what position you’re advertising for. Phrases like “blue-sky thinker” and “thought leader” don’t reveal anything of substance about the role.

TapRecruit job description editor

TapRecruit’s job description editor provides data-driven suggestions for job description content (Source)

Augmented writing tools such as TapRecruit allow users to input job descriptions and receive data-driven analysis and suggestions on content and language. For example, TapRecruit can suggest improvements to job titles and estimate how many more candidates will discover the job by using an alternative. It can also suggest replacements for common jargon, and highlight discouraging language.

Too Long; Didn’t Read: Tell Candidates What You’re Really Looking For

It’s often said that we’re a generation of scanners rather than readers, especially when it comes to the internet. We have the tendency to scan text for relevant information, and get bored easily when it comes to large blocks and passages of text.

The same is true for job descriptions. The click-to-apply (CTA) ratio is hugely affected by the length of your job descriptions. A study conducted by Appcast revealed that job descriptions that contained:

  • Around 1,100 words achieved a CTA ratio of only 3.9 percent.
  • Of only 100 words achieved a CTA ratio of just 3.4 percent.
  • Of 300-800 words achieved CTA ratios five times higher than very short or very long descriptions.
Achieve the optimum job description length:

While the length of job descriptions will differ by each role, bear in mind that job seekers are generally looking for the following key information during their first glance:

  • Salary and compensation
  • Necessary qualifications
  • Job/role details
  • Performance goals

What job seekers aren’t so interested in reading:

  • General information about the company
  • Company culture information
  • Information about the company’s mission

You’ll draw more attention to your job postings by avoiding generic language, favoring bullet points, and sticking to the information that really matters to potential candidates when writing job descriptions.

Job Grader job description tool

Job Grader rates job descriptions by comparing them to other job descriptions in the same industry (Source)

However, if you want to make sure that your job postings are gaining more traction than your competitors, you can run your job descriptions through tools such as Job Grader.

This tool allows you to input your company name, the job role you’re advertising for and the job description itself in order to compare it to similar job descriptions in similar industries. It’ll then grade you on buzzwords, length, grammar, and gender appeal, with handy suggestions for improvements.

Inject Life Into Your Job Posting

Okay, although this is less of a writing tip and more a design tip, optimizing your job posting is the last piece of the puzzle. Naturally, job seekers become fatigued with scrolling through the same text with the same font, the same layout, and the same website over and over again.

As much as your company’s website is a powerful marketing tool, a branded career page is a powerful recruiting tool. No matter how job seekers end up on your company’s website, whether it’s through a job board or through social media, once they’ve decided to check you out, you need to catch their eye. That means you need to have up-to-date details on open positions, company information, and a means of getting in touch.

But more than that, your career page needs to have a strong employer brand. Your career page needs to embody exactly what your company represents, your company’s personality, and how it’s different from the millions of others out there. Job seekers are attracted not just to open positions, but to company culture, too.

Jobvite employer branded career page

Example of Jobvite’s employer branded career page (Source)

Many applicant tracking systems come with career page builders so that companies can easily launch their own with minimal effort. This includes the ability to brand the page with your own logo, branding, design, and information.

Tips for creating a branded career page:

This is where you showcase what you’re about as a company. Involve your current employees in collecting information for this page—what do they love about the company? Employee testimonials are a strong way of demonstrating what it’s truly like to work at the company.

Also, be sure to describe the benefits and perks of working for your company: this will help filter the people who don’t want to work in a pet-friendly office, or don’t feel comfortable with a large amount of corporate social events.

How to Write Job Descriptions in the Most Effective Way

When job seekers are faced with generic lists and jargon, they’ll often exit the job posting or your careers page—your job description hasn’t interested or excited them, and they’re almost definitely not going to return again. The more you treat job descriptions as a shopping list for your employer, the more you’re going to lose candidates before they even apply.

how to write job descriptions in the most effective way

There are tons of tools out there that can help you write job descriptions, but once they’re crafted, you’ll need different tools to help you post them in the right places, and track the lifecycle of your applicants.

Once you’ve adjusted your job descriptions, you’ll naturally see a rise in the amount of applicants to your open positions. Applicant tracking systems are robust recruitment and hiring tools that help businesses organize large numbers of applicants.

Our friendly software advisors are ready and willing to help you with the info you need to make an informed decision on any software you might need. For a free 15-minute phone consultation, give us a call at (855) 998-8505.


Note: The information contained in this article has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. The applications selected are examples to show a feature in context, and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations

You may also like

8 Tips for Improving the Online Candidate Experience

How to Write a Terrible Job Posting in 5 Easy Steps

Your Competitors Know the Importance of Hiring the Right Employees—Do You?

Compare Applicant Tracking Software