Writing the Perfect Job Listing: What You Need to Know

Writing the Perfect Job Listing: What You Need to Know

A major responsibility for human resources professionals involves finding the right candidates for open positions within an organization. Of course, there are many methods and techniques you can use when pursuing this goal, but making sure the job listing is optimized is one of the most important. With the ideal job listing, you’re much more likely to find the ideal candidate.

Does your job involve helping the company find new talent? If so, keep these tips in mind when describing new openings to prospective hires.


Learn the Requirements

You may not be entirely familiar with every single role you’ll draft a job listing for. Thus, it’s important to consult with the manager who will supervise the new employee and others in the same department to find out what kind of qualifications and traits the job requires. Focus on both measurable qualifications (a degree, a certification, a certain number of years of experience in a particular role, etc.), specific skill sets, and general qualities that make a person more likely to succeed in the role.

Include these in the listing. You want to make sure you’re only attracting candidates who genuinely feel they have the skills needed to thrive in the position. Yes, this will likely have the effect of driving away some potential applicants, but odds are high those applicants wouldn’t be a good fit for the job anyway.


job requirements


Describe the Company

Applicants want to know about the organization they may work for. They want to know how long you’ve been in business, the products or services you’re most known for, and what your values and goals are. You should also highlight the main qualities of the company culture and work environment. This is particularly important if your organization is small or relatively unknown. By familiarizing candidates with your organization, you’ll have a better chance of attracting those who would fit in and actually enjoy working there.


Focus on Opportunity

In essence, someone looking for a job is looking for an opportunity. They either want to feel they’ll have a chance to grow within your organization, or at least a chance to get valuable experience that will help them advance their career in the future. What they don’t want is a job that will see them doing exactly the same thing five years on.

Granted, you want to ensure the job listing accurately reflects the work and responsibilities the position involves, and you want to find someone who would enjoy this work and won’t immediately leave. However, you also want to give candidates the sense that they are applying for a position that isn’t a dead-end. It can be helpful to emphasize your organization as much as the position you’re recruiting for—think of it as trying to find new talent that will enrich the company as a whole, not just fill one role.


Use Active Descriptions

Using passive language to describe a job will make the role sound boring. For instance, if you were to write a job listing with the phrase “The [job title] is responsible for handling client communications and tracking projects,” the job may come across as dull. On the other hand, if you were to write, “You will actively manage client relations and ensure the success of dynamic, major projects,” the description may be more appealing to potential candidates. It will also have the effect of discouraging applicants who may be seeking roles that involve limited responsibility.




Consider Including an Assignment

Although this step may come later in the recruitment process (and may involve coordination with supervisors), there are instances in which it is a good idea to ask applicants to complete a brief sample assignment as part of the initial application. This helps weed out those who simply don’t have the necessary skills to succeed in the role. It also discourages applicants who aren’t serious enough about the position to complete the requested test.


Use Clear Language

While it’s true that you want to attract intelligent applicants, you also don’t want to intimidate anyone who’s qualified for the job. That’s why it’s a good idea to write in clear language when posting a job. The language can be conversational in tone, if that fits your organization’s brand, but it should still be professional. In any case, complicated sentences and wordiness will only confuse applicants.


Refer to Past Success

As an HR professional, there’s a good chance you’ve written job listings in the past. They can serve as helpful resources as you compose new job listings. Refer back to listings you wrote that attracted applicants who went on to great success in their position. Identify any common phrases, skills, descriptions, or anything else that may be useful to include in your new job posting. One of the best ways to find the right candidates is simply to leverage your own past successes.

It’s important to remember that the initial job listing is one of the most important elements of the recruitment process. That’s because a well-written job listing will make screening, interviewing, and selecting candidates infinitely easier. Keep the above tips in mind the next time your organization has an open position to advertise.

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