What’s the best job description format to attract top talent?
Let’s walk through common JD sections and give you some best practices.
1. Your Job Description Opener
The best job descriptions start strong.
Tips on format:
- Start with questions — Don’t start talking about you and your company. Instead, the best format is to open up about the candidate. You can do this by using questions. Check out 7 Examples of Questions Top Brands Use to Start their Job Descriptions.
- Start with the job description — Google will send you more traffic if you make your opening content unique. For example, you can start your first, second or third sentences with something like this: As a [Name of Job], you get to join a team that’s transforming the [name of your market].
You might be tempted to start your job description with your About Us statement (52.8% of job descriptions use that format).
But don’t do that (see Why Starting Your Job Postings with “About Us” is usually a Mistake). The best practice is to move your About Us statement lower down towards the end of the job description.
What header do you use for your opening section?
Easy. You don’t need one. The best format is to go right from the title of the job into a conversational/product-centric opener like the questions above.
2. The Responsibilities Section
A best practice for your Responsibilities section is to paint a picture of what a “Day in the Life” for the candidate looks like. That makes it more conversational.
For example, here’s the best format for a Responsibilities section of a Sales Rep job description:
Any single day in the life of a Sales Rep is dynamic and unique. You might find that you:
- Attend a 15 minute huddle with your team
- Demo our product to global prospect at a VP-level
- Work closely with our Marketing team on new warm leads
- Give feedback to the product team about what you’re hearing “on the street”
- Celebrate a win by you or someone on the team (we do that by striking a gong!)
3. Requirements (Must-Have) Section
The best format for your requirement’s section is to be selective and specific. That’s why the first Requirements section you use should list only your must-have requirements.
- Selective (list only deal-breakers) — It’s been proven that some women will only click apply on your job posting if they meet all of your requirements (that comes from Tip #1 in 5 Free & Easy Tips for Recruiting More Women).
- Specific (describe skills not years experience)— You want your requirements to be specific. If, for example, you’re hiring a software engineer, and your tech team uses Open Software, it’s better to write this as a requirement:
“Working knowledge of open software (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PSP)” instead of “Working knowledge of software tools”
Caution: You should be careful about using “# of years of experience” in this section. If the job description reads that it requires “5+ years experience” you might turn off candidates who are qualified but have fewer years under their belts.
Instead of # of years, try using a format focused on the actual skillset or type of work you want them familiar with.
For example, if you’re hiring a software leader, you could use this type of language:
“you led a team that launched an industrial strength software product into the market”
Header Name? — You can name the Must-Have Requirements section something literal like:
- Skills Needed
4. Requirements (Nice-to-Have) Section
Now that you’ve got your 5 to 7 “must-have” requirements written, you might have a few other “nice-to-have” requirements left.
These nice-to-haves are important to you…but they’re not deal-breakers.
Note: As we mentioned above, using Nice-to-Have requirements is the best format for some women who decline to apply if your Must-Have Requirements list above is too long.
The best format for listing these nice-to-haves is to either:
- Name this section “Nice-to-Have Requirements” or
- List the nice-to-have bullets at the bottom of the overall Requirements section.
The key about these nice-to-haves is to label them so candidates are clear they are NOT must-have requirements.
I recommend 2 to 5 nice-to-have items for optimal readability.
5. Compensation & Benefits Section
The best job descriptions have a comp/benefits section. Benefits and salary range are the #1 thing candidates look at in a job description (see This Job Description Heatmap Shows You What Candidates Really Care About (and What They Ignore).
If you can include anything about pay here, do it. It can dramatically increase your apply rate. If you don’t have your own pay range, you might consider embedding a pay range from Glassdoor. Ongig offers an embeddable widget to do this.
If you don’t have a pay range, the next best thing to is to say “Competitive Pay”.
The best format for the Comp/Benefits section is to use a handful of bullets. They might include things like:
- Medical and Dental
- Parental Leave Support
- [A benefit that is somewhat unique to your company or the particular job]
The best job description apply rates I’ve seen use a format of4 to 7 bullets for this section.
6. About Us Section
As we mentioned in the first section of this article, the best practice for your About Us section is near the bottom of the JD.
A solid About Us format is to:
- Open strong
- Be employee-centric
- Show your size
For more tips on About Us statements, and inspiration, check out 15 Examples of Awesome About Us statements.
7. EEO & Diversity Statement
A best practice is to put your EEO or Diversity Statement at the end of your job description. Candidates expect it there.
Here’s an example:
“Tesla is an equal opportunity employer. All aspects of employment including the decision to hire, promote, discipline, or discharge, will be based on merit, competence, performance, and business needs. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, marital status, age, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition, pregnancy, genetic information, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, veteran status, or any other status protected under federal, state, or local law.”
Check out 10 Samples of an Effective EEO Statement for examples of the best format used by industry leaders.
Some employers include a Diversity Statement (in addition to their EEO) in their job descriptions. Others keep their Diversity Statement on their career site and out of their JDs.
Here’s an example of a format GoDaddy uses for a Diversity Statement in their job description:
“A Culture of Creativity is life at GoDaddy. We hire the best, give them first-class training and set them loose. If you’re driven to perform, you’ll fit right in. We approach our work fearlessly, learn quickly, improve constantly, and celebrate our wins at every turn. Everyone is welcome—as an inclusive workplace, our employees are comfortable bringing their authentic whole selves to work. Be you.”
Check out 10 Examples of Awesome Diversity Statements for more inspiration on the best format to use.
While you can combine your EEO and Diversity Statement language into one paragraph of your job description, the best format is to make them separate sentences.
That’s because some countries sometimes require different EEO language (e.g. U.S. versus Canada) so you want the ability to control the EEO-only language by region. Many employers choose to not have any EEO language in their job descriptions for other countries in which there is no EEO-related law.
If you use a Diversity Statement in your job descriptions, a best practice is to put them in 100% of your JDs. There’s no reason NOT to be consistent with your diversity statement language. Unlike your EEO statement, there is no law I know of about what language to use in your diversity statement. You’re just making a statement that you’re inclusive which should apply to every region you’re in.
This “divide and conquer” approach to separating the EEO and Diversity language gives you flexibility to use the best format for EEO/Diversity by region.
Some employers use a format that combines the EEO and Diversity Statement. Here’s one of the best clean examples of that I’ve seen:
“SurveyMonkey is an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees.”
Why I wrote this?
Ongig helps give you the best job description format automatically through our cloud-based software.