This article is going to teach you the tips and tricks to writing a killer job description that attracts the right talent time and time again. However, before we open Pandora’s box, consider the following:
Did you know that there were more than 2,650,000 jobs posted in the U.S. in 2015?
Good news: That’s a lot of jobs!
Bad news: Only 17% of those hiring managers are satisfied, stating that all, or nearly all, of job seekers lack the necessary skills they are looking for.
“So, what’s the big deal?” you’re probably saying. “I always write awesome job descriptions.”Why do these candidates lack the necessary skills? Is it because the large majority of job seekers in the U.S. desperately throw their resume at random job postings? Or is it because we as hiring managers are doing a pretty bad job at putting together a description that attracts the right kind of talent? **Spoiler Alert** It’s the latter!
Statistically, the poor job descriptions that you’re writing could be costing your business a lot of money, and here’s why:
The Harvard Business Review points out that as much as 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions. And, to make matters worse, the cost of replacing that employee is still going to cost you two times the person’s salary and that comes right off the bottom line.
This doesn’t sound like much, but when you do the math, it can be pretty crazy. These things add up.
Still don’t believe us? Here’s an example…
Your warehouse employs 100 warehouse associates, and your average turnover rate is 25%. You’re paying each associate $25,000.
This means you could potentially be wasting up to $1,250,000 a year on bad hires. You may have a lower turnover rate, but even if the numbers are half of that, then you get the general idea.
It all seems a little doom and gloom, but the great news is that it’s because most people are doing a terrible job. Whether you are looking to attract awesome seasonal workers or hire your next CEO, with a few changes to your approach, you can end up hiring people who love your company as much as this little guy.
Let’s dive in and get you started on learning the secrets to writing a killer job description.
P.S. A lot of what we’re about to teach you is from a marketer’s perspective, which will hopefully uncover a whole host of ideas that you’ve never tried before!
Did you know that more than 124 million job-related searches are conducted each month on Google? That figure doesn’t even factor in other major search engines or job boards. Clearly, job-related searches can have huge implications for your job listing.
SEO makes your job description searchable
Teaching you about how to use SEO won’t help you write a better job description, but we’d wager that 99% of hiring managers aren’t using it. This means that if you get it right, you could increase the number of people looking at your job posting by hundreds, if not thousands!
As we’re sure you agree, having people actually see your job listing is just as important as learning to write an awesome job description. Here’s how to get started.
Step 1: Do some keyword research into job titles and optimize for job boards!
The best place to start is by choosing the right title for the job. Most hiring managers wouldn’t bat an eyelash when it comes to choosing between an admin assistant, administrative assistant or secretary for the title. But, we can see that there is a huge difference among the number of people searching for these terms each month.
By doing some basic research, you can get a pretty good idea for what people are searching. A free tool you can use is Google’s Keyword Planner. As you can see from the example above, job seekers are most likely to search for the Administrative Assistant Job, so make sure that your title includes this.
If you are stuck on how to find different variations for your job title, type in the title into Google and scroll to the suggested searches at the bottom. There you can find a few variations to research.
As you can see, we searched for warehouse assistant jobs, and we also got the keywords warehouse admin jobs, warehouse operative jobs and warehouse associate jobs. Simply add these keywords into Google’s Keyword Planner tool, and you can easily find which one is the most widely searched.
By implementing this simple technique, your job description can rank higher on third-party job sites, which will mean a whole host of new eyeballs viewing your job description and a bigger, better pipeline of candidates.
Step 2: Now it’s time to optimize your job description.
Believe it or not, search engines only really care about the text you have on your job post or description. By using this methodology, you can start to optimize your job descriptions in a way that will help increase your search rankings with Google and third-party job boards.
Along with the earlier work you undertook for your job title, take those related keywords and sprinkle them throughout the description.
This not only helps increase page relevance, but it avoids something that us marketers call keyword stuffing (i.e., adding in the same keyword over and over again to trick the search engines)! By engaging in keyword stuffing, you can actually get banned from Google.
Here are some additional pointers to help you better integrate those keywords into your job description:
- Use bullet points with the keywords. It makes them stand out and breaks up the text.
- The length of your job description should be maximum 250 words.
- Make sure you highlight key terms to make them stand out.
- Make the job post simple and easy to read – that means no jargon!
Step 3: Take advantage of your newfound keywords in your company description.
Most third-party job sites allow you to add a company description or boilerplate on all of your job listings. Make sure you optimize the copy in a similar way to your job description.
Avoid typical “marketing fluff” and focus on the keywords you found from your research to demonstrate how awesome your business is!
Step 4: Build backlinks!
This is arguably the most important aspect of SEO. We won’t cover this in great depth here, but make sure you share the job description in as many places as possible by linking back to the original post.
This will tell Google that your job description has a high level of authority, and it’s worth pushing up the search rankings. A couple of good ways to build backlinks are:
- Encourage everyone in your office to share the link on social media.
- Put links to the job description on different pages of your website.
- Find online conversations that are relevant to the job and post it there. (Industry-specific forums are a great place to start, or even your social channels).
- Put the link into your online bios for platforms like Twitter, Quora, etc.
This was just a surface-level view of SEO for job descriptions. Stay tuned for an in-depth guide in the near future. If you subscribe to the blog, you’ll have it in your inbox in the next couple of weeks.
Now, let’s teach you how to write a killer job description!
Writing a job description is just like writing copy for any blog or ad. You should:
- Know the audience you are trying to target.
- Use the language they understand.
- Have a good understanding of the value they seek.
There is nothing worse that writing a job description for a position you desperately need to fill, posting it online or in a local newspaper (Yes, people still do this) and then getting inundated with applications from people who aren’t suited for the role.
We can’t emphasize this enough. Your job description needs to speak directly to your target audience. If it doesn’t, you’re effectively roaming the streets like a 19th century town crier calling out to everyone in hopes that somebody hears you.
The best job descriptions are not just a description. They’re carefully crafted messages that aim to attract the most qualified candidate for your job.
Think of your job post like a funnel, where you’re casting your net out wide (with the help of SEO). Then, as the candidate makes their way through your beautifully crafted piece of content, they’re either pressing the ejector seat button because it’s not for them, or they are mentally ticking all the boxes.
So, what are the steps to writing a compelling job ad?
Here’s what you need to know.
Step 1: Make your job title stand out!
Make sure you use the job title that you found from your keyword research from earlier, but now let’s make it look a little more attractive.
A great place to start is to ensure your job title has your industry, chosen keyword for the position and location. People generally search job boards by position title, location and field.
By having this information readily available in the title, you set a very clear picture of what you do and whom you are looking for to fill the role. This helps attract a more focused set of candidates for your hiring pool.
You can even take it one step further and try to make your title stand out with the use of emojis, icons and capital letters.
Boring: warehouse assistant
Good: Warehouse Assistant, San Francisco CA
Superstar: 📢 Warehouse Assistant, San Francisco CA
Step 2: Don’t skimp on the essentials.
Now that we’re getting into the nitty gritty details, it’s important not to lose focus! By that, we mean it’s really important to include the fundamentals when you write any job description.
Here’s a list of 6 essential details to include when you write your next job description:
- Key responsibilities: A list of all essential functions of the position, they generally include between 5-10 responsibilities. Be sure to begin each one with a present-tense action verb – “Research Social Media Trends” and “Mock Up New Vector Graphics” are great examples of this.
- Company Overview: Although any worthwhile candidate should have this stuff figured out, it is always helpful for applicants to have information about your company’s mission, goals and industry.
- Location: Make sure you say where the position is located and if travel is necessary. If possible, note what percentage of time the person will have to spend travelling.
- Type of Employment: Be VERY clear about whether the position is full- or part-time or even an internship.
- Salary Range and Benefits: Be sure to give at least give a salary range – if you think it will put off candidates, then your salary probably isn’t competitive! Include the range of benefits plus any other unique perks that can make you stand out from the crowd.
- Recruiter Contact Info: It may seem obvious, but there are so many job listings out there that forget to do this!
Step 3: Nail the short description.
When it comes to writing job descriptions online in particular, you should be aware that on average, four times as many people read the short description than actually click through to the listing itself. So put effort into what you write … even if you only have 140 characters in which to say it.
After all, you don’t just want people reading the short description. You want people to read your the entire listing in all of its glory… and of course, you then want the best candidates to press “Apply Now.”
By the way, you already have enough on your plate, and you probably don’t have time to be thinking of creative ways to come up with awesome short descriptions. Right?
Don’t forget to include your action words here. To help you out, we have put together a list of pretty much every action word and its definition [click here]. You can thank us later.
Short Description Nailed!
Step 4: Talk to the reader
When writing your job description, avoid talking like a robot or a posh 18th century poet. Avoid phrases like “the ideal applicant must” or “the successful candidate will” since this will not only make the reader want to fall asleep, but it also makes your company seem sterile and less approachable.
Instead, say something along the lines of, “In this exciting role you will be…” or “Coming from an administrative background, you will be expected to…”.
Remember, talk to the reader like a real, live person, and use the word “you” a lot!
Step 5: Finally, make data your best friend!
Our Director of Community Kimberly Greenberg is a ninja when it comes to posting jobs. She has posted well over 20,000 job ads and has written countless descriptions. Her number one tip when it comes to writing job descriptions is:
“Make data your best friend. We work with hundreds of different job ads every day, and we found that using analytics to optimize our job descriptions gives us the ability to recruit better quality candidates at a much lower cost.”
If you’re using a third-party website, she recommends becoming good friends with your account manager (AM) because they are the people who hold the power when it comes to getting your hands on this data.
If you ask nicely, your AM will get you benchmarks for any industry, and if you are on really good terms, they can even pull some keyword data for you.
Key Metrics to Use
Now you have this data, it’s time to get a better understanding of the key metrics you should be using to measure success. Below is a list of three key metrics a job site will traditionally hand over and a description of how to improve them.
- CTR (Click-through rate): The percentage of clicks to impressions. Depending on industry, job and competitive nature of the job board, this can vary between 1 – 3%. The key to improving this metric is to use what we discussed earlier in this blog (Keywords in your job title/making it stand out.) In addition, make your short description captivating for the reader to encourage them to click through.
- Apply Rate: The percentage of views of your job description to applications. Here at Wonolo, we average a 16.4% application rate, which for our industry is above average. However, take this metric with a grain of salt because if you are writing job descriptions for a very specialized position, a low apply rate is good because it means your job description is doing a good job of screening candidates.
- Cost per Apply: This is the cost per application. It will vary largely depending on what position you are hiring for. However, if you continue to use the points we discussed in the blog post, you should see this figure shrink throughout the process.
Now that you have all of these tips and tricks on how to write a job description that candidates can’t resist, it’s time to put them into action.
If you have any other tips & tricks to add, make sure you add them to the comments section below!