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How to Write a Job Description: A Guide for Recruiters

February 6, 2024
7 min read
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The world of work has never been less static than in recent years; it’s constantly changing as technology evolves and economic conditions shift. In response, businesses have become more agile, reprioritizing whenever necessary, which means in many roles, job responsibilities are more fluid, too. Have you updated your job descriptions to keep up?

Engaging, accurate, and inclusive job descriptions help you attract and retain the right people for every role. They shouldn’t be too complicated —for recruiters or candidates — but rather easy to understand, update, and repurpose.

Most of all, effective job descriptions shouldn’t be underestimated. They’re often the first piece of the candidate experience, and if they’re bad, the last. People decide within 14 seconds if they’ll read the entire job description.

Keep reading for tips on what to include in your job description templates and best practices for recruiters today. We’ll also share how AI tools can help you write better job descriptions in a fraction of the time —and you’ll get the chance to test it for yourself.

Effective job descriptions are more than a checklist — they're the first step in a positive candidate experience. Find out why they're crucial for attracting top talent🌟💡

6 Key Elements of a Job Description

Every job description includes a few key components, like the role responsibilities. We’ll share how you can take a modern approach to these traditional elements to draw in top talent.

1. Job Title and Department

If you’re like most people, your job search starts with a Google search of your title or the title you want. To help potential applicants find those vacant roles, your job descriptions should start with clear, compelling, accurate job titles. You should also specify which department the role falls under and give a brief overview of the team the candidate would be joining.

While you should avoid inflated titles like “Tech Ninja” rather than “IT Support Specialist,” a Harvard Business Review article points out that sometimes, titles are outdated. Today, roles are often more nebulous, with responsibilities that are subject to change as the business grows. If that applies, you might consider more descriptive titles that encompass how the role might evolve. HBR suggested changing “Customer Service Representative” to “Voice of Customer Lead” to reflect how that position could change as the business increases the use of automation.

2. Company Overview and Job Summary

Begin your job description with a statement that incorporates the company's mission and culture. Your statement should communicate what your company is all about and what makes you so great to work for. You can also include a short job summary, especially for more senior positions. That helps candidates quickly understand the job duties and goals and decide if the role — and your company — is right for them.

In Action at ClearCompany

Take a page out of our book. Here’s how we start every ClearCompany job description:

“Missions are accomplished with people, driving towards a greater purpose. At ClearCompany, our mission is to help our 2000+ clients achieve theirs. When talking to our own team of A players, you’ll find that it’s not only the opportunity to drive this mission forward that keeps us thriving. It’s the freedom, flexibility, and support ClearCompany provides back which contributes to our professional development and the pursuit of our personal missions and passions outside of work. Learn more about our state of the art, cloud-based talent platform and why you should consider joining us here.”

3. Role Responsibilities

Every job description needs to include the basics of the employee’s day-to-day duties and what they’ll be responsible for accomplishing. This is especially important to define in light of the fact that nearly half of U.S. employees don’t know what’s expected of them at work. Define primary, secondary, and tertiary responsibilities, and only include what’s most important so your job descriptions stay concise.

4. Skills and Qualifications

Did you know that one in four recent graduates won’t apply if they don’t have all the skills listed in a job description? Women are also less likely to apply if they don’t meet 100% of the job requirements. That’s a huge portion of the workforce you could be missing out on.

Every job has “must-have” skills and qualifications and some that are “nice-to-have.” To attract a wide range of diverse candidates, keep this list brief and clearly differentiate between which are required and which aren’t.

5. Salary and Benefits Information

Pay transparency laws are on the rise, so there’s a chance your city or state requires you to include details about salary and in some cases, benefits. Not to mention, it’s becoming a nonnegotiable for candidates —44% of job applicants say they didn’t apply to jobs because they didn’t show a salary range. When you provide this information, you manage candidates’ expectations and start establishing trust.

Did you know? 44% of job seekers won't apply without a salary range. Embrace transparency in your job descriptions to manage expectations and build trust from the start 💸🤝

6. Why Employees Love Your Company

Job descriptions are where you sell your company culture to potential candidates. Convince them to apply by telling them what your people love about working at your company. That can include anything from the flexible work hours to your commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB).

6 Best Practices Tips for Writing Job Descriptions

Now that we’ve discussed the main pieces to include in your template let’s look at some up-to-date best practices for writing effective job descriptions.

1. Use Inclusive Language

Written job descriptions leave room for readers to interpret your meaning and make assumptions. It’s not uncommon for them to include language that is gendered or exclusionary, pushing great candidates away. Be conscious of the language you use and ensure your tone is reflective of company culture so you don’t miss out on best-fit hires.

For example, using feminine-coded words like “considerate” or masculine-coded words like “decisive” could unconsciously alienate applicants of different genders. You should also avoid using words that alienate people with disabilities. Take a look at these ADA-compliant phrases for suggestions about what to say instead.

2. Showcase Employer Brand

Employer brand refers to your company’s image as a place to work and tells candidates what your company culture is like. Does your company value collaboration and teamwork above all? Is the environment fast-paced? Are teams remote, hybrid, or in-office?

Answering these kinds of questions helps job seekers decide if they’d be a good fit. You should also talk about your company’s mission and values to draw in aligned candidates —purpose and fulfillment are at the top of the list for job seekers today.

3. Simplify Structure and Format

Organized, uncluttered formatting makes it more likely that applicants will read your job descriptions in their entirety. Use bullet points wherever appropriate to make it easier to read (or skim). Don’t forget a clear call to action at the end for interested candidates to apply, like a button that launches the application.

4. Create Mobile-Friendly Job Descriptions

If you want to reach the majority of available talent, your career site and job descriptions must be optimized for mobile devices. 90% of job seekers use their phones to search for and apply for jobs.

5. Seek Input from Hiring Managers

While you’re an expert on where to look for candidates, hiring managers are the experts on who they need to add to their teams. Before you turn your template into a job description, talk to the hiring manager to get the details. Ask them to review it when it’s complete to ensure the job description helps candidates understand the role accurately and gets their message across.

6. Continuously Improve

Roles change, companies grow, and culture evolves, so your job descriptions and templates should get regular updates to reflect that. Make intelligent improvements by getting feedback from your recruiting and HR teams, hiring managers, and even candidates and new hires. Most importantly, ensure your job descriptions are in compliance with state and federal regulations.

How to Use AI for Job Descriptions

Artificial intelligence (AI) in HR has proven its usefulness for many recruiting tasks, including writing job descriptions. Use AI to quickly transform your templates into tailored, industry-specific job descriptions that resonate with your ideal candidates. The technology can help you optimize descriptions to seamlessly include keywords and phrases job seekers are searching for. AI is also useful for flagging potentially biased language, editing for clarity, and making quick changes based on feedback.

Write comprehensive, best-practices job descriptions tailored to your industry and open roles in record time with our easy-to-use AI tool. Enhance your job postings and watch the impact on your business’s recruiting success.

Start writing better job descriptions now —try ClearCompany’s AI-Assisted Job Description Generator.

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