Writing an Effective Job Description – How To Get The Basics Right

Whilst the majority of employers have a lot of success using job boards, less successful advertisers often ask ‘Why aren’t my adverts receiving more applicants?’

There can be numerous explanations for this and it is often a combination of more than one factor. In some cases, highly competitive markets and talent shortages can be to blame.

In others, it may just be the job itself that is struggling to attract candidates due to factors such as location, salary and hours.

With so many elements to consider when posting a job advert, employers and advertisers need to make sure that they are getting the basics right.

Adverts

In an increasingly competitive recruitment landscape, employers need to think carefully about how they advertise their roles to ensure they will attract the very best talent to their positions. To ensure a job advert will attract the right applicants, employers need to think like a marketer and write the advert as they would if they were selling a product or service.

In marketing and advertising the acronym AIDA is often used to describe a common list of events that should occur when a consumer engages with an advertisement. This stands for:

  • A – Attention: attract the attention of the customer.
  • I – Interest: generate interest by focusing on the advantages and benefits.
  • D – Desire: convince customers that they want and desire the product or service.
  • A – Action: persuade customers towards taking action

Apply this to recruitment, making the candidate the customer, and you have the foundations for producing an effective job advert. Below are some simple tips to help guide you. The fundamentals are simple here, employers are not simply posting jobs, they are advertising them.

Attention

The most important element to consider. There are lots of variables when it comes to attracting candidates to your job positions. Things to consider include:

Job Title

When creating a job advert this is one of the most important things to get right – make sure the job title clear, descriptive and concise. Steer away from internal/ambiguous job titles and consider what keywords job seekers use when searching for a job? Would they be more likely to search for “Front Line Customer Support Facilitator” or “Call Centre Worker”? Keep it simple to broaden the appeal – avoid using jargon and the job advert will be much easier to find.

Details

Applicants have a number of important decisions to make when deciding to apply for a new position. When searching for jobs online, job seekers will scan job adverts for key information that is important to them. For many, this key information includes salary and location details.

Consider the motivations of job seekers – candidates want to know that their salary expectations will be matched or exceeded before applying. According to a recent report online job adverts that include salary information receive over 40% more applications

Similarly, adverts should be clear on location. A job seeker needs to know if a role is in their preferred location. Including a general location like South East isn’t helpful as this covers a huge area, be specific and name the town or city.  The more clearly these is stated in an advert, the more likely you are to capture candidate’s attention.

Layout and formatting

Large blocks of text can be difficult to read – keep layout clean and simple to make it easier for candidates. Use bulleted lists, short paragraphs and bold important keywords to enable candidates to quickly view the advert and pick out key information. Where possible, keep adverts short and concise – if your advert is too long candidates may lose interest. Readers often scan over your paragraphs, use bullet points to attract their attention, highlighting the most important information, including responsibilities and candidate specifications.

Interest

Opening Paragraph

Write an exciting and compelling introduction to encourage the candidate to read on and apply. Provide a brief overview of the company, focus on why a candidate would want to work there and what you offer as an employer. Try not to start a job advert with a lengthy generic corporate description – if you really must include masses of information about the company, include this at the end.

Style

Getting the tone of the advert right is essential. Avoid buzzwords, jargon and acronyms and write in a language all applicants will understand. Use vibrant language to engage and excite job seekers and try using active rather than passive language to really sell the job opportunity.

When writing your advert you should address the candidate directly, make the advert about them and not the company. Using phrases such as “You will have the opportunity to…” or “Your career here at ABC Company…” personalises the advert, making key points relevant to the reader. Ask questions of the candidate, make them consider what matters to them.

If you are describing the responsibilities of the role, focus on the core tasks and try to avoid too much detail. To maintain interest job advertisements should be kept short and succinct.

Requirements

When writing the candidate specification try to only focus on the key must haves. Listing too many requirements and including ‘Desired’ criteria can detract from the essential skills and experience that are actually required. Strong candidates can be deterred from applying to job where they feel they only meet 8/10 of the requirements. Similarly, unsuitable applicants (who feel they meet 1/10) may feel they are suitable to apply.

Try to list only those things that the business would not be willing to compromise on to make sure the message is targeted in the right way.

Desire

Opportunities

From a job seeker’s perspective, a good job advert should answer one key question – What’s in it for me? As well as highlighting company benefits and perks, talk about opportunities and development. What else does the company have to offer the job seeker?

Is the company successful? Are they growing? Sell the opportunity, make it exciting and attractive. Describe the company culture, if the company has a Facebook page, or a LinkedIn group be sure to mention it so the job seeker can find out more about your company.

Action

This might sound very basic, but once you have their excitement and interest, don’t forget to encourage them to apply. Point them towards the next steps, create a sense of urgency, tell them to ‘apply now’ and explain the differing application methods available. Don’t forget to include a closing date too.

There are a number factors that can affect how a job advert performs – some of which will be difficult to control. The way in which an advert is written can determine whether or not it will be successful. Ensure you are following the steps above to produce an effective advert, giving yourself the best opportunity to succeed.

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Tags: Agency Recruiting, Corporate Recruiting

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