Steps 1, 2 & 3 for a better JD

Photo by AndreyPopov/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by AndreyPopov/iStock / Getty Images

So, you’re ready to hire… but where to start? How do you get the applications to come rolling in? It all begins with a great job description – a snapshot of the role, the company and the culture you’re offering. This document should answer an important question: why, of the dozens of other opportunities a candidate is entertaining, is your role the best?


We all know the job market is shifting in favor of job-seekers, as unemployment rates continue to decrease and reviews on companies’ cultures, leadership and performance become more transparent with sites like Glassdoor and Indeed. The job description is often a jobseeker’s first introduction to your company, and it’s a great chance to sell them from the get-go.


So, how do you write a killer JD?


1.     Provide a snapshot of a day-in-the-life. While it’s important to outline what you’d like a candidate to bring to the table, it’s just as important to give a candidate a sense of what he/she/they would be doing once sitting at that table. What could they expect in a hypothetical day at Company X? Help paint that bigger picture to give a sense of who they will interact with daily and how they’ll do so.


2.     Explain where the position sits within the organization (and where an employee can go). As previously mentioned, you’re not only selling a role with a job description – you’re selling the company. By giving candidates a sense of the career trajectory within your organization, you allow him/her/them to picture what a career with the company could look like longer-term – this will not only be attractive to them during the hiring process, but will also sow the seeds of longevity once they are up and running in the role.


3.     Use language that is inclusive. The job description should use language that allows a candidate to imagine him/her/themself into the organization and role. This includes using unbiased, neutral and inclusive pronouns and descriptors. For example, rather than saying, “The Account Executive will maintain contact with his clients to develop relationships.” Instead, frame responsibilities along the lines of the following: “As an Account Executive, you will maintain contact with your clients to develop relationships.” Not only does this small tweak avoid exclusive language, it also allows the candidate to step into the role by addressing him/her/them directly.


4.     Only include the necessities. We’ve all seen it – the job description for an entry-level role with 25 requirements. How is this entry-level exactly? Unfortunately, the reality is that any unicorns that are able to tick off each box on these extensive req lists are extremely rare, and you usually can’t afford them. Studies have shown that women are less likely to apply for jobs if they don’t meet 100% of the “requirements” compared to men, who are more willing to apply to a role for which they are (on paper) only 60% qualified. So a long reqs list is likely to ensure a homogeneous candidate pool. When thinking through what a great candidate would look like for your role, consider (and differentiate between) the necessary requirements and the nice-to-haves.


5.     Include your perks! Why do you love working at your company? The JD should highlight the intangibles or non-job-function-related benefits that your employees value. Do you have team happy hours? Cool views? An office dog? Including these benefits is a great way to showcase your company’s work environment and overall personality of the firm.


CFW ProTip: When listing benefits, you want to consider the different types of candidates you want to attract. Consider highlighting (and offering) a more well-rounded package beyond the beer and kick ball league. For example, flex hours could be important for a working parent (Check out this study on the most “family-friendly” jobs in the US. Hint: sales!), while wellness classes might intrigue a more senior candidate. Having a well-rounded benefits package will make – in real life and on paper – you a more inclusive and welcoming employer.


6.     Provide additional resources. You can’t say everything you want or need to say on a job description – again, you’re giving candidates an impact-filled snapshot here! Still, you want potential applicants to leave the JD feeling like they have a good sense of who you are as a company, and who they would be within your company. This is where providing additional links and resources comes in handy – examples include articles on your company, trends in your industry, blog posts from current employees, or a snapshot of your product offerings.


Besides its functional purpose, your job description is an often-untapped opportunity to toot your own horn and market your organization. Taking this opportunity by the horns will enable you to surface top, diverse talent and portray your positive work culture, building the strength of your employer brand.