In our research, the optimal length of a written job description is 550 to 750 words. Many candidates lose interest after that.
One exception to this: If your job description copywriting is truly incredible, you can get a quality candidate to read 1,000+ words.
2. Include Brand Names THEY Care About
Forget about your brand for just a moment. Candidates care about other brands that mean just as much if not more. I’m talking about the brands of the tools and methodologies they will use.
For example, if you’re hiring a salesperson, include the names of the branded products such as CRM, analytics and communications tools they will use.
If you’re hiring a full-stack engineer, make sure to mention the brand names of the tech stack they’ll use.
3. Use Specific Wording
For the same reason that naming brands in your job descriptions are effective, you must also be as specific on the rest of the job description as well. Examples:
- Mention a typical day in the life of what they’ll do
- Mention who the person will report to (at least by title)
- Mention the team they will be on
- Mention what types of people they will interact with (other departments?)
4. Fewer “We’s” and More “You’s”
Most people writing job descriptions refer to themselves (we, our, us, [name of company], etc.) and too little about the candidates (you, your, yours, etc.).
A good rule of thumb is that you should have a “You to We” ratio of at least 1:1.
To sanity check this, just do the following on some random job descriptions:
Count how many times you mention the words you, your and yours versus we, our, us.
You might find some easy fixes such as replacing “the candidate” with “you”.
5. Don’t Repeat (“I Repeat, Don’t Repeat”)
Many job descriptions I read repeat things they don’t have to. Beware of these repeats:
- Location — Mentioning the location in more than one place (if it’s in the headline, you don’t need to include it again in the job description).
- Responsibilities — I often see a couple of responsibilities mentioned in the Job Summary section of the JD and then I see the exact same wording in the Responsibilities section
There is one thing that is ok to repeat in a job description and that is the job title (see #7 below).
6. Avoid Abbreviations
Many job descriptions use abbreviations that might be obvious to you and many candidates but not all candidates.
- Job Titles — Always spell out the job in the job title. You may know that a “CSR” is a customer service rep, but many customer service wannabees do not.
- Departments — Spell out your departments. I have seen employers use “CC” instead of Call Center and
7. Always Keep an Eye on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
You can help your job description find the right candidate (through Google and other search engines) by following a few easy rules:
- Make Your Job Title Clear — I once saw an insurance company title a job “CSR, CC” which stood for Customer Service Rep, Call Center. While Google is very smart, they are not that smart.
- Keyword Density on Job Title — If you are looking for an Inside Sales Representative, you should mention the phrase Inside Sales Representative or synonyms (Inside Sales Rep) multiple times throughout the job description. In Recruitment SEO, this is called keyword density and, all other things equal, a JD that mentions a job title 10 times verus 5 times is going to win (see How One Underdog Out-Recruits the Big Dogs for Free with “Keyword Density”.
- Keyword Density on Requirements & Responsibilities — If are hiring a finance person who will be living and breathing spreadsheets then it probably makes sense for you to mention spreadsheets or synonyms for it (Excel, Google Sheets, Pivot Tables, Excel Macros, etc.) multiple times. This will help Google help you find that person who lives for the spreadsheet!
- Place Your Job Details First and About Us at the End — Candidates (and Google) will weigh what you put in your first paragraph more heavily. For this reason, I recommend you include a job summary at the beginning of the job description (the candidate cares more about what they will do then what your company does). This has the added Recruitment SEO benefit of showing more keyword-rich job info to Google who will rank you higher in search results.
- Overall — Check out Ongig’s free SEO Guide for more details on more technical SEO tips.
If you need help writing job descriptions, Ongig has a team of professional copywriters ready to transform the text of your JDs!
Latest posts by Rob Kelly (see all)
- 10 Tips for Writing Effective Job Descriptions - January 18, 2018
- CDM Smith’s Simple Yet Powerful Example of Employer Branding - December 28, 2017
- Do You Have this Massive “Drop-Off” From Career Site to Job Descriptions? - December 26, 2017