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How to Write Effective Job Postings: Job Description and Skills

Candidate Experience Recruiting Strategy Job Advertisements

When the right job seeker clicks on your job posting to learn more about the opportunity, you're one step closer to converting them into an applicant. But if your job posting doesn't provide them with the right information, or if it doesn't compel them to apply, they will unfortunately hit the "Back" button instead of applying. With that in mind, your job postings must give your target candidates the information they want and need. The majority of this essential information will be in the Job Description and Skills section of your job postings.

The Job Description and Skills section of your job postings should provide a clear and concise snapshot of what your open position will entail. This way, job seekers can easily understand the key responsibilities, tasks and skills your job requires. By communicating your expectations clearly, job seekers can make better decisions on whether or not they are qualified to apply.

Describing the Position

An effective job description typically contains two components: an overview of the role and the job responsibilities. You should only highlight the most significant information in these sections so that description is succinct and easy to digest. Although content is important in a job posting, job seekers will become overwhelmed and disinterested if you stuff too much information into one paragraph.

Summarize the Role

The position overview is typically written in paragraph form and gives job seekers a general idea of what they’ll be doing day-to-day. Be sure to talk directly to the job seeker rather than saying “the incumbent" or "the right candidate." This will make the job ad feel more personal and encourage your potential candidates to actually envision themselves performing the job.

Keep your statements short, but don't be afraid to incorporate descriptive words to make them more interesting and exciting. You may also want to explain why this job is such a great opportunity and how the role ultimately helps your company achieve its mission.

  • Ineffective: The incumbent will handle all receptionist duties including greeting clients.
  • Effective: You will serve as the first impression for our executive offices.
  • Ineffective: This position is responsible for generating sales and servicing customers.
  • Effective: You will actively close sales, provide exceptional customer service, and become an intricate component of our progressive team environment.

List Job Responsibilities

For this section, highlight the five most essential job duties. It’s best to use bullet points when listing job responsibilities so that that job seekers can quickly scan them. Start each responsibility with a "to be" verb rather than an "ing" verb to make your statements more powerful.

  • Ineffective: Duties include supporting VP level management and above, making travel arrangements, calendar management, scheduling, procurement, meeting notes, assist in producing powerpoint presentations, filing, typing, setting up meetings to include arrangements for food, etc.
  • Effective:
    • Manage and coordinate the schedules for executive management
    • Make reservations for flight and hotel accommodations
    • Perform administrative responsibilities including taking notes during meetings, preparing correspondence, and managing files
    • Assist with production of sales presentations
    • Assist with special projects as assigned

Make it Easy to Read

An effective job posting will have enough information to appear attractive and thorough, but will avoid highlighting tasks that are not essential functions of the job. A laundry list of skills that are extremely similar should be summarized to avoid tedious reading.

  • Ineffective: The incumbent for this job will have experience with Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Access, typing, filing, maintaining file system, data entry, taking notes in meetings, and completing general office duties as assigned.
  • Effective: If you're the right person for this opportunity, you will have previous experience providing administrative support to a busy office and using Microsoft Office.

Provide Qualifications and Skill Requirements

Once a job seeker is excited about your job opportunity, they need to find out if they are qualified to apply. Again, use bullet points so that job seekers can quickly scan and assess their eligibility.

Start out by listing the “required skills” for the job. These are skills, educational achievements, and experience that are absolutely necessary to perform the job. Finish the list with your “preferred skills.” These are attributes that may not be mandatory, but are definitely desired in the ideal candidate. Preferred skills might include additional education or experience, a background in a specific industry, or familiarity with using a certain program.

  • Ineffective: Bachelor’s degree in a field appropriate to the area of assignment and five (5) years of related administrative experience, including three (3) years of supervisory experience; OR, Nine (9) years of related administrative experience, including three (3) years of supervisory experience; OR, any equivalent combination of education and/or experience from which comparable knowledge, skills and abilities have been achieved.
  • Effective:
    • Relevant Bachelor’s degree, or equivalent combination of education and experience
    • Five years of related administrative experience
    • Three years of supervisory experience
    • Ability to adapt to a changing environment and handle multiple priorities
    • Excellent writing and analytical skills
    • Hubspot and Google Analytics experience a plus

Share Organizational Values & Culture

In addition to education and experience, cultural fit is extremely important when it comes to selecting the appropriate candidate for your open position. Use this section to highlight your company's mission, vision and values so that the candidates can gain insight into what your company is all about. Also include key attributes of your company culture and workplace to paint a picture of what it's like to work for you. Finally, list any personality traits that are common among your most successful team members.

Example: At Company ABC, we use our brand marketing expertise to help companies throughout the U.S. establish and promote their brands. When you visit our vibrant office buildings in Scottsdale, Arizona, you will find our driven, efficient, and analytical team constructing strategic solutions for our clients.

Our team members are passionate about growth, innovation and collaboration. We are constantly striving to improve and better ourselves so that we can better support our clients. If you have growth mindset and you thrive under pressure, you are probably a great fit for our team!

Once you effectively describe the job and its required skills, your job posting will clearly communicate the job's expectations to job seekers. In return, the candidates who are right for the position will become more engaged and interested in your job. This will ultimately boost your response quality, and help you get that much closer to finding the ideal candidate you’re looking for.

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