How to structure a job description

The job description is your first step in recruiting a new employee and arguably the most important part of the entire process. The job description is effectively a piece of direct marketing collateral and you should treat it like one. It is a direct response tool through which you can sell your business to the perfect candidate. How do you make your job description stand out against the crowd? How do you attract the right candidate and make them want to work for you?
Here’s a few points you should consider next time you’re recruiting:

Be personal

As we have already pointed out, the job description is essentially direct marketing. As such you should treat it that way with the words you use to describe the correct candidate and how you sell your company to that candidate. Focus on using the words like ‘you’ and ‘your’ over ‘the right candidate’. Be conversational in tone so they can easily understand what the company stands for and what the role entails. You need to help the candidate picture themselves in the role so they can really identify themselves fitting in and excelling in the position.
When talking about the company, you shouldn’t be too strict and formal. Try and sell the benefits of working for the company over explaining the ins and outs of your business. The candidate will research you and find out your website anyway so use the job description to sell why an employee should REALLY want to work for you.

Be search engine friendly

When it comes to advertising your position on job sites it’s really important to make sure that your job specification is search engine friendly. You need to make sure that the people you want to hire, can actually find your job! To do that you need to think about a few things when writing your job description to ensure the search engines return your job when someone makes a search.
• Keep your job titles short and sweet and a maximum of 80 characters long. This is the optimum length of a title.
• Avoid using caps or special characters in titles. This will make your title easy to read and rank in search engines.
• Use real life terminology for your job title so the search engine knows what the job actually is.
• Use strategic keywords to help your job description rank well. Look at other job descriptions on job sites that are similar to yours and try and find the type of keywords they are using. Also, include more specific keywords in your description to help the search engine match your job to the candidates search. This will also mean you are showing your job to a better type of candidate.

Be specific

Be specific throughout the document, starting with the job title. Don’t get bogged down in technical internal titles. Be clear with the title so that they can quickly understand what the role entails. Keep it short and easily understandable. For example, if you’re recruiting for a Marketing Manager, say so. Rather than use titles like ‘marketing wizard’ or ‘growth specialist’. Specify years of experience, qualifications and specific skills you’re looking for.
Be clear with what the job entails. Perhaps include a paragraph on ‘Your typical working day’ to help the candidate picture themselves in the role. Using our Marketing Manager example, perhaps the role entails developing and managing the marketing strategy and managing a small team? On the other hand, their day could be 60% focussed on content production. If it does, say so. Use this paragraph to help candidates understand what they will actually be doing on a day to day basis.

Be honest

Try not to sugar coat negative parts of the role. If the successful candidate will end up doing a lot administrative work that may be considered a little laborious, it is perfectly fine to say so. Candidates should have a clear picture of what the job entails so that there are no nasty surprises when they start.
You should also be honest about the key objectives of the role. The job description is your first opportunity to outline any key performance indicators you will be using to measure the performance of the candidate. The candidate should completely understand how performance will be managed so that there are no surprises when it comes to performance reviews in the future.

Be snappy

Try and cut out the waffle. People’s attention span is limited these days and you should make it easy for them to understand your job description.
• Use short snappy paragraphs and bullet points.
• Direct attention with sub headings or bold/italic fonts.
• Avoid buzzwords and corporate jargon, use real life language.
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