How to Write Effective Job Descriptions Candidates Can’t Resist

January 27, 2015

Great news! Business is booming and you’ve been approved additional head count to keep up with the demand. Now comes the hard part — attracting the best talent for the job. It all starts with writing strong and effective job descriptions that won’t get lost in the crowd.

Kicking off a new recruiting search can be a daunting task. The key is to have a clear process in place, and to do as much prep as possible up front, so you don’t get caught scrambling to fill an urgent vacancy completely unprepared. While it’s not uncommon for job descriptions to change during the interview process (ex: certain skills transitioning from “nice to have” to “need to have” or vice versa), having strong skeleton job descriptions at your disposal can allow you to get a jump on new searches as soon as they become open.

How to Write Effective Job Descriptions Candidate’s Can’t Resist

One of the most important aspects of creating a compelling job description is being able to accurately depict what skills are needed to perform the job and what exactly the position will be responsible for within the organization. Some of the key areas that you will want to highlight are:

Job Title and Summary

Clearly list the exact title for the position and provide a thorough overview of the responsibilities of the role and how that fits into the company’s larger goals moving forward. Depending on the seniority of the position, this could be an extensive part of the job description. At the very least, it should be an overview for what is needed from the individual and can be similar to the business justification for the position, but described in more detail and broken down to various tasks.

Need-to-Have Skills

This is where you should highlight the core attributes required to perform the role well. This section is also a good place to highlight the eliminating factors for candidates who may be interested but not qualified. You will want to highlight the years of experience needed for the role and what specific experiences are being targeted.

Nice-to-Have Skills

This section is great for highlighting characteristics that are important to the position but are seen as either the “icing on the cake” or “learnable skills” otherwise qualified candidates can pick up on the job.

Department and Direct Supervisor

It is also important to highlight what department the position will fall under within your company’s organizational structure and who the person’s direct supervisor will be. Not only is this great information for applicants to have, it can also be a selling point, especially if the position reports directly to the C-level.

Company Overview

This is a very important part of the job description and the perfect chance to pitch what’s compelling about your company. Take the opportunity to highlight the company’s core mission, vision, and values. Give the candidate enough information to be interested — just make sure it doesn’t monopolize the job description.

Don’t forget to call out the type of employment you are looking for (full-time, part-time, contract, temporary, etc.) and where the position will be located. Location and flexibility are very important to candidates and those will be their top questions if the information is not listed on the description.

Salary Range and/or Comp Package

This section will vary based on how comfortable your organization is disclosing salary ranges. For the most part, neither salary nor salary range will be listed, but you still have a great opportunity to sell your company’s benefits or perks (dental, vision, 401K, health insurance, etc.). You can also highlight your company culture by listing some of your more unique perks and/or fun recent events.

Point of Contact Information

Believe it or not, this is one of the most overlooked parts of any job description. Listing a direct contact provides driven candidates the opportunity to go above and beyond by sending a personalized cover letter email rather than simply applying to the position via your website. Should your decision come down to two equally qualified candidates, it’s that kind of gesture that can sometimes tip the balance.

6 Quick Job Description Tips

  • Be direct and don’t refrain from using bullets
  • Show off your company’s culture and brand by incorporating the appropriate tone and writing style
  • Use present tense so the description is more active and flows for the reader
  • Be cautious of acronyms that may not be well known
  • Avoid gender or age-based language
  • Don’t be afraid to share the description with your team to make sure everyone is on the same page

How do you like to create your job descriptions? I would love to hear other successful aspects that are important to the potential applicant.


<strong>Brandon DeWitt</strong> is a Talent Acquisition Manager at Criteo <a href="">Criteo</a>. Prior to that, Brandon was a Talent Specialist at OpenView, focused on recruiting engineering candidates, and also previously served as a contract recruiter for CVS Caremark where he sourced candidates in a variety of functional areas nationwide.