Job Descriptions: Words Matter

Unless you are a well known company where employment is sought out with you specifically (i.e Google, Amazon, Facebook…), there is a good chance that your job postings will be the first wave of exposure talent will receive about your establishment while searching for their next opportunity.


Keep it Clean

With that being said, first impressions matter. The way in which you write about your open opportunities can make or break their first encounter. Words are everything! Choice of language, tone, and formatting will either attract the right talent to apply or smother you in unqualified submissions; or worse keep you from getting noticed at all.

Detracting and making it harder to fill positions with talent that are the proper fit. The overall purpose of these job descriptions is to really sell your cause. Working for you is the product and you are trying to persuade the right talent to commit and buy. Therefore it’s important to articulate yourself properly and with meaning.


Reflecting on Experience

From personal experience, we at Alltech can attest to the success of speaking in a language that inspires the right talent to apply. The role we were hiring for was your typical Database Administrator. Everything about this job stood standard in relation to any other DBA position in the field. What made this posting in particular a success for us was how the description was worded.

We posted the description to job boards and we got a hit that really stood out to us. Our lead recruiter felt this candidate fit so well that he didn’t see it was necessary to waste any time going through any technical screening, he was confident that we should just go forth with presenting the candidate. That type of request wasn’t typical of this recruiter, it was routine to always do a technical screening no matter what their resume said. From there a call was setup to speak with the candidate further.

During the call we learned, even though pay seems to be a primary driving force for people to change jobs, the candidates current pay was little to no different than what this position was offering. The component in the job description that stuck out to him that compelled him to reach out to us was the sentence, “We are looking for candidates who have intellectual curiosity”. He saw this as an opportunity for growth.That this role as a DBA for this company would allow him to do more than the typical routine responsibilities he was already indulging in.He was looking for a change of pace, hungry for a challenge.

After coming out of a 4 hour interview, he came out with the offer. The intellectual curiosity this client was in search of required the right talent to manage 30TB of research report data; not only to manage but optimize it. They were looking for the right person to come in, introduce new tools, lower costs, and develop a more efficient way to analyze all of the data.

If you are a small or midsize firm, competing for top talent, using the right phrasing can help top talent see the true value in the job you are trying to fill. Job seekers care more about what you can do for them. You need to be able to convince them you have exactly what they are looking for.

Consistent Is Key

Not only should you be conscientious when listing your open opportunities, you need to be consistent. Displaying a standardization that will ring in favor with search engines all while attracting talent best suited each and every time.

Stick to what works. It’s vital to create job listings that display the perfect balance between depth in the details and keeping it concise. This way candidates can clearly and quickly understand the role in which your company is seeking to fill.

Similar to the majority of content and information that fills the world wide web, talent will only spend a brief and limited time on your posting. So make your mission clear. If talent can’t figure out what you are all about smoothly and quickly, they will have no problems moving on to the next listing. The proof is in the pudding, so don’t give talent a reason to pass your opportunity up.

The Backbone

When it comes to your job description, according to Indeed, it’s best to keep them between 700-2,000 characters. Based on information they’ve gathered, these job listings received 30% more applicants than ones who don’t. To break a description down, there is a list of six core factors that can help you ring in a successful talent hunt.

  • The Job Title - The leading lady of any job description. Even though every piece adds value to a posting, this one can really kill your listing if you stray. If there is one thing you should never do is get unique. As cool as let’s say Data Jedi or Ninja Navigator may sound on our business cards, no one is going to be using those as keywords in their job search.

    If fun names are something your company is into, leave them for later in body of the description when displaying a simmer of personality. Instead choose a title that best fits the position. Put yourself in the shoes of a job seeker and stick to keywords that they will plug in that would increase their chances in discovering you.

  • The Summary - This will be the lure to snag the desired catch for your posting. There should be a great grabber sentence that will hook talent in engaging with the job listing. Here you will give some insight on the fundamentals of the position and a glimpse into the day-to-day of what this role may entail. Refrain from writing a novel's worth of information because too much so soon can confuse the candidate.

  • Reporting for Duty - Utilizing bullet points is the best way to breakdown the core responsibilities for the role in question. This way it is clear cut and to the point. Easy to read and no grey area for talent to question what exactly they are looking at.

  • Skills and Qualifications - Stay far away from uncertain preferences or too harsh of requirements. When you are not specific or assertive enough with your needs, then you will attract a lot of uncertain and unqualified leads. When you are too strict, well that is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

    I am sure there is a  developer out there that can speak 4 languages, do a backflip and write code all at the same time; but are they looking at your job listing? Probably not. Take some advice from Miss G and find your just right. It’s okay to be picky, but it’s also okay to provide some wiggle room for professional development once with the company.

  • Salary and Benefits - Coming from a survey by Careerbuilder, 72% of job seekers look at the salary first when coming across a job description. Weighing in as a major influencer as to whether or not talent decide to engage and apply to your open position. It’s important as a company to provide as much incite into a role as possible.

    If you are uncertain and salary is up for negotiation, adjust and list a salary range. It is also important to list the benefits your potential new employees will anticipate. Whatever key features your company provides during employment can really set you apart from the rest.

  • Who Are You - This is the part when you tell the prospective employee who you are as a company. What are your morals, your core mission! What is your company as a whole trying to accomplish. Including this in your job description can help you zone in on the perfect fit because talent are more inclined to apply to positions from companies whose values also line up with their own.

    With fair warning, don't get too hung up on this one though. According to a heatmap study done by LinkedIn, company information was the coldest spot on the map. Outranked by

Set It and Don’t Forget It

Now that you’ve got a clean and enticing job description, it’s time to share that baby like it’s your job! (Which in reality, it probably is. Especially if you are a recruiter or someone in your company’s HR department) Don’t let all your hard work go to waste! Each time your posting is shared, this adds to the search engines grip on your post.

Shares add to the credibility lifting powers that pull your posting front and center. Helping it to be reached easier buy talent on the prowl. To give it more juice, utilizing multiple and relevant job posting platforms will also increase its reach. So get out there! There is top talent just waiting to discover you!  

As a team, we aim to bring insights, passion and innovation to the recruiting process, offering an exceptional experience for our clients and candidates. When you work with Alltech, we’re with you every step of the way.

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