A lot of companies are moving away from the "Post and Pray" approach, but unfortunately, there is still a fair share of companies out there that are spending too much money on this "methodology".  How many times have you talked to a client and they don't have a job description and expect you to work on the role or send you a job description with a few sentences about needing to be detail oriented? 

If you think of posting a job online, think of it as a personals ad... who are you trying to attract? What does your description say about your company (or you)?  What is standing out in your description to make someone want to respond?

I conducted an experiment. I joined a personals website and posted a very vague ad with poor grammar and misspelled words.  Not surprisingly, I received very few responses, some very funny ones and of the ones that did respond were not even close to someone I would be interested in.  

Next, I revamped my ad and went into specifics about me, what I was looking for.  I essentially painted a picture where the potential "candidate" could visualize and see themself in. The results were much more abundant, fit the expectations, and brought out some creative responses.

Once that was completed, I re-created the same experiment on Careerbuilder and not surprisingly, got the same results.. it's all about your attraction campaign.

Guidelines on what to include in job descriptions has evolved over the years, making it simpler for employers to write them and for potential applicants to read them, however a lot of clients will rely on you to do this for them.   Here are 8 essential details to include when writing a good job descriptions:


Job Title & Summary:

Develop a job title for the position you’re looking to fill — the title and level (assistant, senior, lead, etc.) should accurately reflect the work that the employee will perform. Be sure to choose a job title that reflects your industry’s standards and organization’s culture. Once you’ve defined the position, write a brief description of the purpose of the position and an overview of the position’s main responsibilities. This summary should be short and to the point — one to three sentences should be good.


Key Responsibilities:

List all of the essential functions of the position at hand. Generally, this includes between five and 10 responsibilities. Begin each responsibility with a present-tense, action verb — “research social media trends” or “mock up new UI graphics” are good examples.  This helps applicants form an idea of what a typical day may look like.


Department & Supervisor:

Include details on who the person would report to and where that person falls within the company’s structure.  This is not a person's name.. an example would be: Report's to VP of Marketing within the new product development group.


Skills & Qualifications:

Again, this is where you hook a candidate's interest.  Detail the qualifications that are mandatory, along with those that are preferred. These should include skills, years of experience, certifications, licenses, education level and necessary technical proficiencies.  The more information, keywords and buzz words will attract more candidates.  Remember, candidates search for jobs based on keywords.. if your job description doesn't have any, your job will not show up in search engine searches.


Company Overview:

What makes this company unique and why would someone want to work there?  While it is ideal that a candidate would already know essential details about the hiring company, it is helpful for potential applicants to have a description of the company (as written by the company) at hand. Include information about the company’s mission, goals, industry and headquarters location.



Include details on where the position is located. If travel is necessary, note what percentage of time the employee will spend traveling and where he or she will be traveling.


Type of Employment:

Be very clear about whether the position is full-time or part-time. If the position is an internship, note whether it will be paid or unpaid — be sure that the internship follows the six federal legal criteria if it is unpaid.



If the client has a great Benefit package.. be sure to highlight them.. those can be a make or break perk that draws the candidate in.  Benefits (such as 401(k), vacation days, or medical and dental insurance)

Every job needs a "Teaser" to draw the candidate into read the rest of your job description.  It needs to be concise and to the point with enough details to make the reader keep reading.


Some Great examples borrowed from Zappos:


You’re a master at turning ideas into solid UX deliverables. Whether the initial concepts come to you as a detailed 40 page document or scribbled on the back of a napkin you know what steps to take to turn them into exceptional experiences.

You know there’s no “I” in “TEAM” but there is in “Innovation.” You have a team oriented, collaborative approach to user experience design.

You’re able to communicate ideas and concepts clearly and concisely. You know collaboration is key but design by committee run amok can be the death of a good UX design.

You are more flexible than an Olympic gymnast and able to shift gears faster than this years’ Daytona 500 winner. You know that being part of an innovative culture means rapid and constantly shifting priorities. You live for the challenge of it.

Your real-world experience has taught you that “best practices” can be a dirty word. You understand usability best practice rules inside and out – so that you know when it’s appropriate to break them.

You’re interested in blazing new trails and establishing new practices that work specifically for our unique environment.

You celebrate failure. You know that failure is critical to innovation and you learn more from your mistakes than you do from your successes.

You are able to interpret needs, objectives, and direction from multiple sources of input (you speak both “geek” and “marketing-ese” fluently).

You are so into online shopping and ecommerce that you have completely forgotten where your local shopping mall is.

The moral of the story.... You attract what you put out in the world.. meaning, if you want to attract top talent, make sure your job description/advertisement reflects that.  How can you expect to hire an A player if your job description is a D?

Views: 705

Comment by Raphael Fang on October 10, 2012 at 4:16pm

I always thought that dating is like recruiting.  I actually used what I learn from recruiting and applied to dating after my divorce.  I recruited a great girl 3 years ago and I have promoted her to the position of wife last year.

Comment by Cindy Cremona, CPC on October 12, 2012 at 11:11am

OK - someone please educate me. Why would an employer pay me a 25 or 30% fee (and a retainer) to run an ad they can run themselves to get the same or similar response? Isn't that what HR does? And isn't that precisely why they call us? Because after the ads are run and they go through the myriad of applicants who don't fit, they engage us to recruit for them!

I can see posting to your Linked In network, groups or special interest organizations, a more targeted shotgun approach, be that as it may. But come on folks, what keeps us valuable and able to collect said fees, is our ability to not only seek out talent, but to attract it, influence it and close it. The very basis of our profession hasn't changed. While everyone else is scrambling for ways to 'brand' themselves, 'collect' passive talent, etc., we the recruiters are swooping in, making introductions, building relationships (not lists) and placing candidates.


Comment by Bill Schultz on October 12, 2012 at 12:36pm

@Rafael- Congrats!

@Becky- Sorry to say, the good thing about the Zappos ad is it does not follow your formula,  which excluded any evangelizing of the company or the role.  What the Zappos example is doing is appealing to its audience.  UX is a creative area that craves   the ability to prototype and iterate.  That's what the position sells.  

@ Cindy- Yeah, you're right but some companies write terrible ads.  Sometimes you can attract talent the easy way and why work harder than you need to?

Comment by Edward N. Woycenko on October 12, 2012 at 12:55pm

In my opinion, most "A" players are not reading job board postings etc. Companies that post jobs do not have a sense of urgency. They are participants in what I call the "Volunteer" market.  They are looking for people to volunteer for positions rather than proactively recruit performance oriented individuals.  In the time it takes to write up a job board posting, you could have made several phone calls to top calibre people, if you are an industry specialist and know where these people are.  What is your value add proposition when you do things the companies you are engaging with can do?

Comment by Cindy Cremona, CPC on October 12, 2012 at 1:32pm

Ed, thank you...

and put more succinclty than I - kudos!

Comment by Bill Schultz on October 12, 2012 at 1:57pm

@Edward, you've never placed an ad and gotten a good candidate?  An "A Player" in your eyes?

As far as doing what companies do, we do it better.  I know I can write a better ad than my clients 9 times out of 10.

Comment by Amy Ala on October 12, 2012 at 4:45pm

wow... I think we have to be careful about throwing around these "A" player labels. An "A" player can NEVER be found through traditional recruiting methods! An "A" player is never going to respond to a job ad! Sheesh I hope I never have to proactively look for a new job and do something scandalous like check job postings... Surely my candidate rating will drop dramatically!

Reminds me of the hiring manager that thumbed her nose at us posting her reqs on Craigslist... my boss said "that's interesting. I found my job HERE on craigslist".

You just never know.

Comment by Edward N. Woycenko on October 12, 2012 at 5:24pm


I am a recruiter.  In the 30 years that I have been in business, I have never posted an ad. There has been no need to.  The calibre of individual I am seeking is knocking the ball out of the park for his/her current employer.  IF I approach him/her with a value add propositon that makes sense, he/she will make the move.

Comment by Bill Schultz on October 12, 2012 at 6:09pm


I seek whom you seek, (minus a couple of cliches) and I agree.  But once in a while, you get lucky.  Or, someone sees my ad and refers it to an A player who happens to be in between home run trots.  I admire your persistence and purity to your profession.  

Comment by Becky Franzen on October 15, 2012 at 9:08am

Thank you everyone for the comments.. a lot of great points. I wanted to clarify that this blog post wasn't specific to 3rd party recruiters... it was including ALL recruiters.. corporate, onsite, 3rd party, etc.  A lot of times recruiters are asked to come up with, consult on or write from scratch a job description for a client. This blog was simply some insight into how to make a job posting more attractive and was not saying recruiting = job posting. 

The Zappos example was more to show how a company utilizes it's uniqueness as a teaser/intro.. there are 1000's of examples in varying degrees depending on industry, job function, etc.. I just chose one that was fun.  Have a great week!


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