How to Write a Killer Job Description

Ever have a job opening that you’re so excited about that you envision piles and piles of resumes coming in? Then….crickets. What gives? You have an awesome practice culture, there are plenty of qualified candidates out there and you’re hiring, so why aren’t they biting?

There are plenty of reasons why certain openings don’t garner enough attention from job applicants. Sometimes the listing isn’t on the right job boards. Other times, it’s a matter of timing. More often than not, though, it comes down to the job description itself.

A job description is like a sales pitch. You’ve got to make it intriguing enough to capture a candidate’s attention and interesting enough to keep them engaged.

The good news is, the economy is improving, which means you’ve got a growing pool of prospects available for your hiring needs. Here’s how to make your job opening compelling enough to reach more of those qualified individuals.

Skip the buzzwords.

A few years ago, terms like “ninja” and “rock star” were all the rage in job descriptions. Today, not so much. They’ve simply run their course. In fact, these buzzwords that once helped hiring employers stand out amongst the competition now make job seekers roll their eyes.

Rather than relying on cool words or hip terms, try approaching your job descriptions from the perspective of the candidates you’re trying to reach. Serious job seekers aren’t looking for terms like “vet tech guru” or “front desk wizard.” They’re using real search terms to find employment opportunities that they’re well suited for.

When you’re crafting your job descriptions, try to focus on the real keywords your target audience is using. Do some research to determine which keywords align with the kind of candidates you are looking for and then incorporate those into your listings.

Be honest and realistic.

Some hiring managers struggle with finding good candidates simply because their job descriptions are unrealistic. For instance, if the list of responsibilities is so long that it could easily be divvied up amongst two or three employees, it’s not going to get candidates excited. In fact, it’s probably going to send them running the other way.

When you’re writing a job description, it can be infinitely helpful to have someone who has already worked in that particular role take a look and provide their feedback. If it’s a brand new position, check out similar job descriptions to get a better idea of what you should be targeting.

Taking these extra steps can help you set more reasonable expectations and determine which qualifications are absolutely necessary and which could be shaved off the list.

Be as detailed as possible.

Another common reason hiring managers struggle to get good applicants is not being detailed enough in their job descriptions. Obviously, you can’t address every possible skillset, but you also don’t want to be so vague that you turn people off.

Ideally, you should aim for a job description that is between 700 and 2000 words in length. That may seem like a lot, but it’s really not that difficult if you follow these pointers:

  • Paint a picture of the daily responsibilities of the job, breaking down tasks by percentage.
  • Provide insight into how the role in question plays into the big picture.
  • List who the candidate will report to and be in regular contact with (i.e. managers, direct reports, colleagues, clients, etc.)
  • Provide a list of required and preferred skills and experience.
  • Include a salary range. This will help you avoid wasting your time and that of your candidates. It will also make negotiations easier and more straightforward when the time comes.
  • Emphasize what makes your practice unique.

Also, be specific in the title of your job descriptions. This will increase the likelihood of the right candidates clicking and the wrong ones moving on.

Focus on the future.

Candidates want to know where your practice is going, not where it’s been. Listing out all the awards you’ve received or other past accomplishments isn’t going to serve you well, at least in terms of hiring. Instead, job seekers are interested in what opportunities lay ahead. Use your job descriptions as a chance to show candidates what their future might look like if they choose to work with you.

Tell them what’s in it for them.

What you ultimately want to find out about the candidates you’re thinking of hiring is what they can do for your practice. What will get them to click on your job description and apply, however, is what you can do for them. What do you have to offer that other practices don’t? Whether it’s outstanding benefits, a flexible work schedule, free catered lunches or something else, showcase what’s in it for them and they’ll be more likely to throw their hats into the ring.

Creating killer job descriptions is as much an art as it is a science. You want to stand out and show your uniqueness, but you also want to adhere to a certain set of standards. The above tips should help get your creative juices flowing and improve the outcome of your next hiring experience.

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