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6 tips to optimize your job descriptions

With 10+ years’ experience as a recruiter, I had to read hundreds of job descriptions and had to convince talents to read it as well… and I often had to call them afterwards to motivate them to apply just because they haven’t found what they were looking for in it. Today some of them are working in positions they wouldn’t have even considered if I wasn’t there to explain them what the job exactly is.

Probably before any other piece of content, your job descriptions are the key to convince top talents to join your company. By reading a job description, a candidate is reading what he will spend the whole day doing if he decides to apply and get hired!

Not everyone is born a copywriter but writing a good job description is not rocket science if you consider a few elements and put yourself is the candidate’s shoes. It’s all about common sense, structure and content.

1. First thing first, the job title.

Your job title is the first thing potential candidates will read, be to the point, don’t overcomplicate it and seize the occasion to give relevant information such as seniority level, specialization, etc. It might determine whether or not people will continue reading.

Avoid using some coolish job titles such as “Marketing Guru” or “Javascript Wizard”, finding a new job is a serious thing and your readers want to know as from the job title if it might be an opportunity for them. What is a Marketing Guru by the way? Is it a graphic designer, a digital marketeer, a Marketing officer, a Marketing Manager? Is it a senior role or an entry position?

2. Say who you are!

Start by introducing yourself to candidates and do not assume everybody knows your company. Well, if you are a fintech company recruiting developers, your candidates will probably come from the fintech ecosystem and should know your company. But still, it might be a good idea to re-introduce yourself, especially when it comes to recruit “industry agnostic” positions (f.i. System Engineers, Finance, Webmaster…).

If your Corporate boiler plate might not be clear to people who are not familiar with your industry, create a new one for recruitment purpose to make sure everybody understands what you do. For instance, “MyCompany creates the future of digital lead generation marketing” might sound clear to Marketing professionals but if you use “At MyCompany, we develop an extensive range of innovative tools allowing companies to collect and manage data from potential customers” anyone can understand it.

Just pay attention not to be too long to limit the risk to lose readers along the way. Limit yourself to the core mission of your company, give an idea of its size (number of employees, offices worldwide) and some of your most renowned customers. It is also important to give the exact location of your offices, being easily accessible will definitely be a plus for your company.

3. Provide only relevant information and structure it.

People are overloaded with information so if you want to be read you have to remain as short as possible, this is even more true when it comes to reach passive talents. So maybe starting with a short executive summary is a good idea to engage potential candidates as from the beginning. Shortly describe 3 main tasks and 3 mandatory skills to generate interest (in addition, this will sort candidates and improve the quality of the CVs you will receive).

Then start with key tasks to be performed in the position and give a time weighting to it. It is probably not worth mentioning all these tasks that won’t occupy your employee for more than 5% of his time. You can also avoid bulleted lists by describing a typical day at work in the position for instance.

Same rule applies while listing the skills you want, there are most probably mandatory skills for the position and some you would like the candidate to have, but you can skip commodity skills such as “organized and able to work under pressure” if you recruit a 10+ years’ experience Project Manager.

4. Clearly state what you have to offer.

Ok, now your readers know exactly what the position is all about and what kind of person you need to fulfil it. It is time for them to know exactly what you have to offer.

“We offer you a challenging position with young talented colleagues in a fast-paced environment” doesn’t say much about what the employee will get! Even if you don’t give figures about the salary, list all the elements of the package. There might be elements there to attract candidates such as the latest smartphone, a nice company car, extra-legal days off (give the exact number) or a good health insurance.

According to the LinkedIn Global Talent Trends 2016, 43% of talents leave their current job because of a lack of opportunities and advancement. Given this fact, it is also interesting to give some details about the future opportunities for the person who will take the position.

You can also mention any element that have an influence on the employees' comfort or their work-life balance such as home working options or information about accessibility, parking or commercial area around. Always keep in mind that talents (especially passive ones) will always compare what you offer to what they currently have and that sometimes a detail can make the difference.

5. Enrich your job offers with content.

If you must be to the point while providing key information about your company, the role and the profile you are looking for, you can enrich your jobs descriptions with employer content.

Once the reader has finished reading the essential information, he might be interested in getting more information about your company as an employer. So why not offering him information that could have an influence on his decision to apply or not.

Just keep in mind that there is already enough text on the page, so try to use other formats.

You can add videos with testimonials from your employees or about the work life in your company, pictures from the team members with a mouseover giving one or two hobbies or funny facts for each of them or links to white papers related to the position.

6. Make it easy to apply!

Don’t overcomplicate the process and skip all the unnecessary steps. You want a CV, a cover letter, the candidate’s name, phone number, email address and LinkedIn profile? Just build a simple form that the candidate can fill in within 2 minutes and link it to a button on the job description.

Think of what you would be doing while buying online, if the process is too complicated you abandon your basket. You want this pair of jeans, the price is a really nice opportunity and it might no longer be available tomorrow but if it is too complicated you just stop the process because in the end, the ones you have are ok. That’s the same in an online application process, especially for passive talents since they are not especially in demand.

There are (fairly priced) tools that help you improve your application process and manage your pool of candidates efficiently.

Well, as I said at the beginning of this blog post, none of this is super complicated as long as you consider the digital world we are living in, overloaded with information coming from everywhere and that most of the talents are passive talents who are not especially demanding a new job. What you need to do is to put yourself in the candidates’ shoes while writing your job description, gathering all the information he wants to read and might make a difference in one single page and delete all the rest.

Do not hesitate to contact me if you want more information about job description optimization or any other inbound recruiting topic.

All the best in your future recruitments!


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