How to Write Effective Job Descriptions

Let’s be honest: Job descriptions can be incredibly indescriptive. Some tend to skew toward painfully boring, while others are way too relaxed and heavily reliant on buzzwords or internal language that renders them confusing to anybody outside of the company.

How do you find that middle ground where the job comes across as informative and professional but still stands out as an exciting opportunity? Here are four quick tips for writing effective job descriptions:

  1. Keep it simple and straightforward.

There’s been an uptick in companies that use extra adjectives to convey they have a fun work culture. But clever titles such as “King of Content,” “Rockstar Developer,” or “VP of Evangelism,” may not show up in searches because potential candidates are probably searching for “copywriter” or “web developer” roles. When it comes to job titles, simpler is always better.

The bottom line: Keep the title straightforward, and instead show off your culture and ability to be fun in a separate paragraph toward the end of the job description.

  1. Show them the small and big picture.

Write three to five sentences describing both what’s expected of the role and how the position fits into the overall goals of the company. Once you’ve written that out, list five to 10 bullet points underneath briefly detailing the required tasks that the job is expected to perform. Don’t overwhelm the potential applicant with too many bullet points describing smaller ancillary tasks.

The bottom line: The job description should convey why this position has opened on your team and what your team hopes to accomplish by adding this role. The bullet points should explain what the person will do if they’re hired to join your team. This information should be easy to scan if someone is viewing this job description on a mobile phone.

  1. Be clear about necessary skills and qualifications.

Write five to 10 bullet points letting the candidate know what they absolutely need to be considered qualified, whether that’s at least two years at a previous agency or advanced proficiency in InDesign. It’s important for the candidate to know the prerequisites versus the “nice to haves.” It also makes your job easier in terms of weeding out candidates who may not have the skills necessary for the role.

The bottom line: Being honest about which skills your company requires from the person who will fill this position benefits both the hiring team and the candidates. If additional expertise isn’t required but would be nice to have in a candidate, simply mark those skills as optional in parentheses.

  1. Show off your work culture.

Here’s where you really get to shine and persuade the candidate to apply for the role. They’ve made it all the way to the bottom of your posting, which means they’re qualified. Now, you have to answer the question: Why does a candidate want to work at your company? Feel free to show off a bit and talk about your core values. Tell prospective teammates how your company offers a networking group for women and gender minorities, promotes collaboration with open spaces or encourages employees to question orthodoxy. Tell them a bit about your company’s mission, what you’ve previously accomplished and what you’re seeking to achieve in the future.

The bottom line: If your company has an inclusive and collaborative culture, impressive benefits that promote work-life balance or was named a “Top 50 Startup” by a prominent publication, make sure to showcase those accolades so candidates are excited to apply and potentially come on board.