HR leaders that identify the shortcomings in their recruitment process and establish best practices for writing successful job descriptions can lay a foundation for future hiring success. This in turn drives wide-scale value for hiring managers across the organisation, as well as long-term value for the organisation itself.

At Randstad, it’s our goal to empower HR leaders and hiring managers as they look to create the successful workforces and companies of tomorrow. That’s why we’ve put together five “hacks” that will boost views, engagement, and the quality of applications arriving in hiring managers’ inboxes.

1. Articulate What You Really Want From a New Hire

Do more with your job description than craft it to accurately describe your own needs.  Reflect on past employees that didn’t work out, issues related to knowledge gaps, or why they weren’t a cultural fit, then articulate what hard skills, soft skills, or personal qualities will ensure a candidate will be successful. 

Ensure your job description targets candidates who align with your future goals for the role, not just its immediate responsibilities. Deloitte recommends “replacing detailed job descriptions with competency-based role profiles” to ensure candidates can adapt with a changing work environment: “Companies should focus on a selection of core, functional and leadership qualities rather than a long laundry list which is difficult to maintain over time.”

For example, you might avoid inserting the name of your analytics software as a prerequisite, opting to include a statement like “ Interprets data and applies insights from enterprise analytics successfully” instead. After all, software skills can be trained; this way, you ensure you capture this skillset in your pool of candidates, even if the analytics software you use changes in time.

If you’re not sure whether you’ve achieved these things with your job description, have a colleague or HR professional review your posting and provide feedback based on their understanding of the role in question.

2. Optimise Job Descriptions for Digital Environments

Online job seekers can flip between dozens of job posts in mere seconds. In other words, they have options. They rarely spend time reading an entire job description if they are abruptly turned off by parts of the text. Online seekers use a range of devices as well — failing to optimise job descriptions for these devices excludes huge portions of potential candidates.

Here are some straightforward tips to ensure your job descriptions are easy to read and desirable for candidates browsing online:

  • use Google Trends to create job titles, terms, and phrases your ideal candidates are most likely to search for; your job titles should be as close to exact as possible
  • use bullet points and keywords that capture readers’ attention as they scan multiple posts
  • use large, purposeful subheadings often to aid readers as they skim your post
  • use bold words — sparingly but meaningfully — to draw attention to certain text
  • be concise and precise, transmitting only information that is necessary and of interest
  • put the most attractive information near the top of the job description
  • don’t use jargon, acronyms, “all caps,” or callouts like “WANTED” or “HURRY!”

Before you launch, check the efficacy of your job description by asking friends and colleagues to access the posting using multiple devices. Ask them to rate its success by playing the role of a discerning job seeker — not necessarily through a detailed analysis of the text.

3. Make the Job Attractive — Not Overbearing

Grab the attention of candidates with the first three lines of your introduction. Connect with them on a personal level by being different than your competitors, displaying empathy, and briefly getting your brand culture across.

Then, rather than highlight the stringent aspects of the job, highlight the professional opportunities and benefits candidates could enjoy as part of their responsibilities. The “responsibilities” section of your job description should tell job seekers not only what they have to do for your company but also what they get to do. That means focusing on positives and helping candidates visualize themselves in that role. The difference is subtle but significant.

Do more to highlight the amenities and benefits the job provides as well, without including real salary details. Simply writing a “competitive benefits package” isn’t enough. Recent research conducted by Randstad US shows that 66% of employees believe a strong benefits and perks package is the most significant factor in determining whether to accept or decline a job offer. Why not be upfront?

According to the global 2020 Randstad Employer Brand Research survey, the perks that matter most for employees are:

  • attractive salary and benefits (57%)
  • work-life balance (45%)
  • job security (44%)
  • pleasant work atmosphere (42%)
  • career progression (35%)

But be aware — Randstad also found that a measurable gap exists between what employees say they want and what their employers think they want. Conduct an internal survey of existing employees to establish what they feel are the best aspects of their jobs and the company. Include those results in the job description at hand.

4. Help Candidates Find the Right Job for Them, Not the Other Way Around

Sometimes helping candidates find the right job means ensuring poor candidates turn away from your own. Your goal is to find the right balance between turning away undesirable candidates in a healthy way and enticing the right candidates to continue through the application process.

Always draft a conclusion that is truthful and includes a call to action; but set realistic expectations about next steps. Including instructions for multiple, tedious application steps can turn away good candidates as well as poor ones. Redesign the call to action in your conclusion with your ideal candidates’ strengths in mind — providing a better experience from them, while decreasing the chance you will engage the wrong people.

5. Advertise Your Company Culture and Your Brand

Candidates aren’t just interested in filling a role — they’re interested in partnering with a company that will bring them long-term satisfaction and growth. Increasingly, job seekers align their personal growth with a healthy corporate culture, industry best practices, and social responsibility. 

In this way, taking a new job is a bit like starting a new life. By describing life on the inside of the company, you’ll help candidates picture themselves as part of your team. These types of details reinforce your company’s brand and can help set you apart from competitors.

The job description is prime real estate — don’t waste it with a generic company boilerplate description. Showcase your company so that it stands out from your competitors in the eyes of potential hires. You may tip the scales for high-value candidates exploring multiple options.

To learn more about writing successful job descriptions, including examples of job descriptions, download our hiring manager's guide to writing job descriptions.