How to Write a Job Description that Attracts Top Candidates

Posted on 01-15-2020
how to write a job description to attract top candidates

If you’re hiring an executive in 2020, it’s critical that you learn how to write a job description that will grab the attention of your industry’s top talent.

With unemployment reaching a 50-year low in late 2019 it’s important that employers recognize that they’re no longer in the driver’s seat when it comes to hiring; a key part of attracting the best candidates is learning how to write a job description that works.

Do Your Homework Before You Start

A good exercise before you start writing a job description is to perform a mini internal investigation to see what role or roles are missing from your company.

Talk to employees in the departments with openings to see what they need from these missing positions. Oftentimes, a company will think they only need one position filled, but the job description they write out is actually for the work of two or even three people.

Remember, there is no such thing as an employee unicorn. You are not going to find a person that is an expert in data analytics, design thinking, event planning, and has a master’s degree in graphic design. And even if you do, they will likely burn out very quickly. So, as you are performing your internal research and writing out your job description, make sure you are only looking for one candidate and not more. 

After you have determined the exact position you need to fill, it’s important to do some research into the types of keywords that candidates looking for this type of job will search for. Keyword research is a crucial step in helping the right candidates find your job.

Keyword research is a crucial step in helping the right candidates find your job posting. A simple way to do this is to perform a quick search for similar jobs on LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, Monster, or other online job boards, and try to identify common words that show up across these ads. Then, try to incorporate those words into your job description.

It’s also helpful to do a LinkedIn search for candidates with the job title that you are trying to fill to see what types of qualifications they have listed and try to incorporate those into your description as well.

Write a Job Description That Is Easily Searchable

Good marketers know that if your company’s website doesn’t pop up on the first page of Google’s search results for a particular keyword, then you’re not going to get much traffic to your site. This same logic applies to attract qualified candidates to your job listing. If the job description isn’t easily searchable, then people aren’t going to find you. So, what do you need to do to improve your job opening’s searchability?

First, make sure the job title is clear and describes exactly what you’re seeking. For instance, if you are looking to hire a data analyst, don’t title the job “Data Guru”. While cutesy titles like this were popular for a brief time a few years ago, that is no longer the case. No one gets a master’s degree in IT Ninja Skills and they certainly don’t search LinkedIn for “Coding Rockstar” job openings. Top job candidates are looking for professional positions with titles that include words like manager, supervisor, director, etc. Be as straightforward and descriptive with the job title as possible. 

Next, make sure your job description includes keywords that a potential candidate may use when searching for that type of position. A mistake many companies make when writing out job descriptions is using words that are common to their particular company or industry, but not necessarily to the specific job at hand. Many professions are easily transferable across different industries, so, for example, while you may be a manufacturing company, the most qualified candidate may be coming from a tech background. If your job description includes a lot of manufacturing-specific jargon, then the candidate with the tech background may not find you in his search. Unless you are filling a role that is specific to your industry, then try to craft your job description with keywords that are specific only to that particular position. This is where your keyword research comes in handy. 

Components to Include When You Write a Job Description

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to how long a job description should be, many experts recommend staying between 700 and 1,200 words. This word count allows you to be specific and detailed without being so lengthy that candidates get bored or overwhelmed and move on to the next listing.

The layout of your job description is also a critical factor. While you want to be detailed, it’s a best practice to layout your listing in a bullet point format. Small, digestible bites of information are much easier to consume than long paragraphs of text. You don’t want to scare a candidate away by making them read a novel before they even reach the “Apply” button.

Here are a few tips for what to include in your job description and in what order you should layout your information.

Job Title: As discussed above, be descriptive with your job title but don’t be cutesy. When it comes to finding the right candidate, it’s more important to be accurate than to be charming. 

Job Responsibilities: Don’t skimp on the details of your job description. If you want to hire the right candidates for the job, then they need to know exactly what you expect from them before they even submit a resume. Consider including: 

  • What will their day-to-day job responsibilities entail?
  • Who will they report to? Who will report to them? Who will their peers be? 
  • What do you expect the candidate to bring to the job? 
  • Does the candidate need to have a specific degree? 
  • How much experience do they need to have? 
  • Are there any specific skills or certifications that the candidate needs to have or that would be nice for them to have? 

Salary Information: While it isn’t required to include salary information on a job description, it is a good idea to at least include a range that can be negotiated. In fact, according to, job descriptions that include a salary range attract up to 30 percent more applicants. Many candidates don’t want to waste their time going through the application and interview process if they don’t know that the job will at least be within the range of the salary they are looking for. One other reason to include a salary is that it can attract currently-employed candidates. A study from Paychex found that 70 percent of employees said that low salary is the reason that they left their jobs. If you are offering a higher potential salary, then you may be able to attract qualified candidates away from their current jobs.

Benefits and Perks: A job description is essentially a company’s sales pitch to potential candidates, so it’s important to promote what you can offer to employees. Some benefits to consider including in the description are: 

  • Paid time off and other vacation policies
  • 401(k) or retirement packages
  • Health, dental, vision, and other insurance packages
  • Remote work options
  • Training or advanced education opportunities
  • Childcare options
  • Gym memberships
  • Flexible schedule opportunities

About the Company: Don’t forget to tell potential candidates a little bit about your company. Include a brief overview of what the company does and where the company is heading in the future. Include links to your website, social media pages, and career website if you have one.

Take it to Market

Once you’ve crafted your perfect job listing, it’s time to put it out there and start drawing in the resumes. With thousands of online job boards available, however, it can often be overwhelming to know which platforms to choose. Some of the more popular sites for finding higher-quality candidates include LinkedIn, Ladders, and The Muse.

However, if you are looking for assistance choosing the right platforms, if you are in a niche industry, or if you are looking to fill a very specific position, hiring a recruiting firm to help can be a great option.

Recruiting firms have vast networks and many resources to help find the right candidates for your jobs. They can even help you with tweaking your job listing to include the right keywords and information to attract the specific people you want.  Most importantly, a recruiting firm can get your position in front of candidates that aren’t actively looking for a job, helping you to hire the best candidate for your opening.

Be Patient

Finally, when it comes to finding the right person for a job, it’s important to be patient. The process for writing a job description and finding just the right candidate can take a while – sometimes even several months!

However, if you take the time to really do your research into the position (or positions) you need to fill, perform proper keyword research, dutifully write out just what you’re looking for, and post your positions in the right places, you will find the right candidates and the process will be worth it in the end.

Remember, if you need help writing a job description or finding the right places to post it, consider hiring a recruiting firm. When you’ve got the right people in the right places, your company will thrive. 

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