I’ve written what I hope you find useful content on job descriptions (see job description articles, job ad articles and our free Job Descriptions Guide. But there are so many awesome articles out there written by others.
And I love giving shout-outs where they’re due.
Here are my favorite articles on job descriptions, job postings and job ads.
20+ Awesome Articles about Writing Job Descriptions (with HR Data too!)
by WebSpiderMount, June 23, 2022
This article touches on why “entry-level” is outdated in job postings. The data shows how few searches there are for entry-level roles (14,800/month) compared to the number of entry-level jobs posted (577,000).
Here are 3 main reasons why the post says you should re-consider using the term:
- entry-level jobs require years of experience
- they rarely pay enough
- the term “entry-level” doesn’t excite people
by Dr. Maynard Brusman, Consulting Psychologist & San Francisco Bay Area Executive Coach, January 31, 0222
This article talks about the pressure to hire, bias in hiring, and other hiring process problems. Managers who are “eager to hire” might pick the wrong people according to Dr. Brusman. Research shows that interviews are only 57% accurate when it comes to getting the right people on the bus.
He recommends finding out why people have left positions and updating your job descriptions based on that:
“the best job descriptions reflect what needs to get done today, and in the near future. Savvy leaders and managers also focus on the behavior and traits necessary to achieve desired results.
They consider how the role:
1. Solves current and future anticipated business challenges/needs.
2. Impacts (affects/interacts/collaborates) other teams, departments, lines of business.
3. Benefits from specific competencies and traits.”
by Philipp Mager, VP Service at softgarden
This article dives into 5 tips for the worst job ad. Most articles give tips on how to make job ads great! Here’s a summary of all 5:
- Copy and paste your job ad from the 90’s
- Throw in some casual discrimination
- Include loads of jargon
- Make lots of spelling mistakes
- Using language like “Looking for female deli staff. Experience required. Fully flexible“, “Now hiring: 1 pretty & 2 ugly dancers“, “Now hiring: Must have clue“, or “Apply today, pizza cook. Qualifications: Not be a crybag.“
by Peter Weddle, CEO of TATech, November 30, 2021
This article touches on a new phenomenon “The Great Resignation” and how it relates to outdated job description best practices, similar to a once “mechanical marvel” the typewriter.
Peter uses the typewriter metaphor to set the stage for how yesterday’s recruiting best practices should be replaced with new “next practices.” His statement about alienation being a root cause of the “Great Resignation” (and the “Great Dropout“) really caught my attention:
“Job postings developed with Next Practices address the alienation by putting trust- and bond-building content up front, at the beginning of the posting. Yes, of course, the title and basic description of the job must appear first, but all of those lengthy, detailed “requirements and responsibilities” should be positioned later in the ad, after some trust has been built and at least the beginnings of a bond forged.”
But, what really makes this article one of my favorites is the fact that it talks about building candidates’ trust and “what’s in it for them”. Here’s what a “Next Practice” job ad can do to achieve that (according to Weddle):
by Kathryn Dill, September 4, 2021
This article touches on the issues with resume scanning tools that automatically “weed out” large amounts of candidates based on things like education requirements, desired skillsets, past criminal records, military vs professional language differences, and resume gaps.
“Harvard said the use of a résumé-gap scan can eliminate huge swaths of the population such as veterans, working mothers, immigrants, caregivers, military spouses and people who have some college coursework but never finished their degree”
Some companies are addressing this:
- IBM — “eliminated college degree requirements for half its roles in the U.S. and rewrote job descriptions to better capture a role’s true needs. Since then, IBM has seen a 63% increase in underrepresented minority applicants”
- Amazon — “hires from special programs created to bring in new types of workers who may have been filtered from its automated systems. That includes veterans and military spouses, parents returning to the workforce and people with a handicap.”
- JPMorgan Chase — “no longer asking job applicants whether they were convicted of a crime. The company focused on developing partnerships with community organizations that supply housing, transportation and job connections to people with a criminal record and decided that only JPMorgan Chase’s global security team needed to know a worker’s history during a background check.”
- Microsoft — “has a new way to find candidates who are on the autism spectrum. Though these workers often bring exceptional attention to detail and problem-solving skills, the company found that elements of its screening and high-stress interview process were unfriendly to such candidates.”
by Katrina Kibben — CEO and Founder of Three Ears Media, June 29, 2021
This article has a great comparison of job postings vs. job descriptions. It also touches on a more recent debate on elitism, age bias, and gender-biased language in JDs related to:
- years of experience
- college degrees
- masculine vs. feminine words
by Ellen Gutoskey, June 9, 2021
This article has some great visuals on business buzzwords and cliches used in job descriptions. The coolest part are the visuals showing which states use them the most, and the top “buzzy words” used in each state.
by Samantha McLaren, October 1, 2020
A fun article including:
- Super-cool infographic job ad from IBM (via Visme)
- MailChimp handing out baseball cards with their team on them
- McDonalds’ cool hamburger stuffed in a french fry box ad to attract students (“no experience required”)
by Ryan Porter, January 8, 2020
- Candidates need context
- An analysis of 37Signals/Basecamp’s great Office Manager job description
- Recommends scrapping a Skills section
- Introduce “If” into your JD
- Dismiss the non-specifics
by Kati Pierce (December 15, 2019)
This article has some great nuggets on:
- Job Description Length
- Tone (including how NOT to sound like a dictator)
by Staff Writer at Thomas (November 21, 2019)
This article is specific to writing a JD to attract procurement candidate and is a solid piece overall. Highlights:
- The top 6 job titles in procurement
- A list of skills
- Essential Certifications for Procurement Managers
by Jean Ohman Back at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt (October 1, 2019)
A great primer on writing job descriptions with eye towards law including:
- Which job functions are “essential” (for EEOC)
- What to do about Equal Pay Acts (e.g. The Oregon administrative rules (OAR 839-008-0010 on “comparable character”)
- Physical and environmental demands of the job
- Key descriptors for FLSA exemption
by Glassdoor Team (September 10, 2019)
A great summary of how to write a better job description with these 5 main sections:
1. Conduct a Job Analysis
2. Know What to Include in a Job Description
3. Create a Great Job Title
4. Hone the Requirements & Responsibilities
5. Edit Your Job Description
Bonus! Job Description Templates
by Glassdoor team (September 2019)
A comprehensive free ebook that includes:
- A job description template
- Tips on what to use in each section of your job description (e.g. use straightforward job titles that candidates search on)
- An example of a job description with analysis of each section
- A “Job Description Checklist” (6 items)
- The Top 5 Factors Job Seekers Consider Before Accepting a Job Offer
Note: This ebook came out around the same time as the September 10th article by Glassdoor above. There’s some overlap but both are worth a read.
by Denise Sefton, Chief People Officer at dunnhumby (August 7, 2019)
UK company writes about its focus on gender-neutral JDs. It includes reference to the 2018 McKinsey study showing that gender-neutral employers outperform other companies in profits and revenues.
by Annie Pullen of Appcast (March 5, 2019)
A solid piece with tips on optimizing job postings such as title length (1 to 3 words), title jargon (don’t use it), right length of time to ask the candidate to apply (<15 minutes), and more.
by Carla Rudder at The Enterprisers Project (February 28, 2019)
IT candidates are different than your average bird. And so your job descriptions for them should be too. Some good tips in this article include:
- “The rule of 4” (limit your responsibilities, requirements and desired skills to just 4 things).
- Trainable instead? — 45% of IT leaders say that they could be more flexible on skills listed in a job description. If a skill is trainable, perhaps leave it out of the job posting.
- Don’t overlook soft skills (especially for entry-level candidates)
by LinkedIn Talent Solutions (February 2019)
7 great nuggets:
- Keep job posts concise
- Be careful of getting too casual
- Let candidates know (directly in the job post) what’s in it for them
- Don’t spend too much time talking up your company
- The job ad needs to define exactly what success looks like
- Get your job post up early in the week
- Your job posts need to have gender-neutral words for greater diversity
by LinkedIn Talent Solutions (January 24, 2019)
Includes HR data on:
- Length of job postings
- The top 8 things a candidate cares about on a job ad
- Casual versus formal tone
by Katrina Kibben (January 15, 2019)
A short-and-sweet list of 7 tips someone who writes a lot of job postings.
by Bailey Reiners at Built In (December 8, 2018)
This job board took their best performing job descriptions and broke down the 12 things that they contain.
This piece covers some things about writing job descriptions that you’ll rarely find in other fluffier pieces such as:
- Average Word Count
- Average Time on Page
by ClickIQ’s Blog Team (November 27, 2018)
December is a great month for cost-effective hires though expect a slight dip in applications. The cost-per-application (CPA) falls dramatically yet the response per advert is down only 4%. January is the best time of year for job adverts. Cost per hire drops by 65% while responses per job increases by 230%.
by Remko Glatzhofer (August 1, 2018)
Great HR data from an analysis of 4.5 million jobs. Some highlights:
- Shorter job posts get more applications
- Men tend to apply more readily than women
- Candidates view and apply to jobs early in the week
- Some industries (staffing, software and teclecommunications) are better at converting candidates into applicants
by Gregory Lewis (June 19, 2018)
A terrific heatmap showing what 450 candidates looked at on a job posting. You’ll see that the top items candidates care about are things like (in order of popularity)
- Salary Range and Benefits (this was #1 by far)
- Job Details
- Performance Goals
Interestingly, Company Details was at the bottom of the list.
by Carmen Noble, Harvard Business School (December 14, 2016)
A great summary of the book What Works: Gender Equality by Design.
by Matt Sherman at Stack Overflow (July 27, 2016)
Great A/B split test on how showing salary information lifts the application clicks by 75%.
by Indeed (May 6, 2013)
This classic is chock full of 19 easy tips on how to write more effective job descriptions. It covers some job posting topics rarely covered such as:
- How long a job title should be
- Should you be clever with a job title (no)
- Talk about day-in-the-life
I love posts like this. It’s quick to read and long on value.
And if you’re looking for a resource on writing better JDs, check out The Top 6 Augmented Writing Tools for Job Descriptions.
Did I miss any?
For more tips on writing job descriptions, check out How to Write a Job Description — Best Practices & Examples.
Why I wrote this?
My team and I here at Ongig are on a mission to transform your job descriptions. We take many of the best practices (such as above) and automate it into our job description software. Please ping me or request a demo if you’d like to learn more.