Want More Talent? You Need To Write Better Job Descriptions

Want More Talent? You Need To Write Better Job Descriptions
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If you take the time to read through online job descriptions, you'll soon realize that they all begin to blur together. Their wording is boring. Many sound exactly the same, even if they're for different types of positions. They do very little to get the reader excited about the position. And that will cost you great talent.

Truly effective job descriptions not only provide job seekers with clear information about the role and the company, but they also encourage them to apply for the job. When your listings fail to do that, they limit your talent options, making it hard to find and hire the best employees.

In order to get more -- and better quality -- candidates, you need to stop and think about what aspects of your job descriptions might be pushing people away. Here are five tips on how to write job listings that will attract the job seekers you need:

1. Look at it from a job seeker's perspective

Many companies write job descriptions with only their own needs in mind. They list skills and experience requirements in an impersonal manner that makes it difficult for job seekers to imagine themselves actually in the position. Instead, consider what a candidate would want to know before applying for a job.

For example, a CareerBuilder study found that 76 percent of job seekers want to know what their day-to-day tasks would be like. Listing skills like 'be able to work in a team' is too vague. It doesn't paint a picture of what that would actually entail. Would they be working with people from different departments? Would the teams be large or small? Writing job descriptions that answer those types of questions allows job seekers to better visualize the job and decide if it's truly the right fit for them.

2. Write job ads with mobile in mind

If you haven't yet, it's time to optimize your job descriptions for mobile viewing, in order to improve talent acquisition. This is especially important when you consider the fact that 26 percent of all adults have used a smartphone to look up information about a new job, according to a 2015 study from the Pew Research Center. That means you could be missing out on reaching one out of four job seekers if your job descriptions aren't written with mobile viewing in mind.

How exactly do you write mobile-friendly job descriptions? It takes more than using a job site that offers a clean mobile design. Keep job descriptions short and sweet, make the text easy to read (e.g. break up text with bullet points, use a larger font, keep paragraphs short), and include a link to your application, video interview platform, etc. so candidates can easily apply from their phones.

Take the time to see what job listings look like on different mobile-friendly job boards. This will let you know if job descriptions look as great on mobile devices as they do on a desktop.

3. Avoid gendered words

Different words have different connotations. While it's obvious you should avoid using words or phrases that have negativity associated with them, you might not know that many words also carry gender biases. Research from ZipRecruiter and the American Psychological Association found that many words commonly used in job descriptions actually have a gender bias.

These are words that are typically associated with male or female stereotypes. For example, words like confidence and logical are typically thought of as masculine traits while emotional and understanding are feminine. Whether you believe the stereotypes or not, they do send signals to job seekers about the type of candidate you're looking for. And that can limit the number and variety of applicants you receive.

The research from ZipRecruiter found that job listings with gender neutral word received 42 percent more responses that gendered listings. If you want to make sure you're getting more candidates, make sure your descriptions aren't unknowingly scaring talent away based on gender bias.

4. Sell your location

Sometimes the right candidate doesn't live in your area. Taking a job with your company would mean uprooting their life and moving to a new city. Convince job seekers that the change would be worthwhile for both their professional and personal life by sharing information about your location.

Include a description of your city in your job descriptions as well as a brief explanation of why you think it's a great place to work and live. You can also add links to the city's chamber of commerce or other sites that can provide a better idea of what it would be like to live and work there. Convincing candidates who would have to move that your location is great allows you to reach a whole new group of job seekers.

5. Give them a person to contact

Questions often arise during the hiring process. But it can be difficult for job seekers to know who they should get in touch with to get answers. In fact, the aforementioned CareerBuilder survey found that 81 percent of job seekers want to know the contact information of the person who posted the job. Unfortunately, most of the time, job seekers' best option is emailing an anonymous address where countless types of company inquires go and are forgotten.

Do better for your candidates by providing an actual person to reach out to. That will make the entire interview process easier for them, and for the company, since you'll be receiving better prepared and informed candidates.

If you want to stop limiting the number of applicants you get for open positions, you need to start with writing better job descriptions. By taking the time to stop and think about what your listings are really saying to job seekers, you can write them so they are more appealing to a wide range of candidates.

What are some other tips for writing job descriptions? Share in the comments below!

Josh Tolan is the CEO of Spark Hire, a video interview solution used by more than 2,000 companies across the globe. Connect with Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter.

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