How to Write the Perfect Job Description
Our team at FourPointZero works with a wide range of companies across the UK, Europe and beyond. In the rapidly developing industries in which we operate, many of our customers are high-growth start-ups that disrupt their sector. In most cases, the company is run by technically biased individuals, and unless there are investors or advisers in the business with the necessary capacities, they lack the competence to recruit for rapid growth with high growth.
The growth stage of any company is the perfect blend of excitement and horror. How you scale up during this period will play a huge role in determining the future success of the company. It is important to have a robust recruitment strategy in place.
From the beginning, the odds are stacked against start-ups, as in many cases you have to compete for talent with higher profile companies that have ‘brand power’ to attract talent. To succeed, you must outsmart the hiring competition and be one step ahead!
During the next couple of posts, we will look at each step in the hiring process and how you can succeed in an industry with short skills where everyone competes for the same talent. In this post, we will look at how to write an effective job description.
A job description is effectively a point of sale to attract the right people to apply. You need to make it detailed enough to capture someone’s attention and engage enough to maintain it!
Before we jump in, it is important that you know what your “value proposition” and company culture are, and why someone wants to join the company. (AKA ‘what is it for me ?!’) The best approach is to take an objective view and think of yourself as a suitable candidate. What will motivate you to join your company and leave a current role where you are satisfied, well paid and generally well taken care of?
If you can not answer these questions, it is worth spending time defining it clearly before you want to rent. Without this you will not have the power to attract, even if you have the best product / solution that is a world musician!
The very important job description
Now that you have completed your value proposition and your culture is clearly defined, it is time to write the job description. The main goal is to clearly explain what you want to hire, the skills required and why someone wants to join you on the growth journey.
Just facts, please
The optimal length of a job description to receive the most applications is a much debated point. A recent survey of over 4,000 technically biased job descriptions posted online that received the best answers showed that the optimal number of words is 600. If you use this as a template guide, make sure you do not over explain, use the standard clichés (below) or basically strolling!
Here is a handy infographic of the most important clichés found in most job descriptions that should be avoided at all costs. If you have any of these in your current job description, press delete immediately and do not be tempted to use them!
The best cliches you need to avoid in your job descriptions
All job descriptions start with a title … keep it meaningful, and all costs avoid ‘Ninja’, ‘Rockstar,’ Unicorn ‘,’ Guru ‘or anything else that’ sounds good ‘and will immediately result in the reader being turned off! Be specific about the position, as this gives a better idea of what to expect in the role. This also results in more self-selected applicants, and generally leads to a higher quality response.
This is a much-discussed point when talking to hiring managers about job descriptions. From our experience and many industry statistics, giving a salary will give a higher response rate and ensure that you play the role at the right level. Avoid using intangible words such as ‘highly negotiable’, ‘market leader’, ‘competing’ or ‘experience dependent’, as literally no one will apply! The best course of action is also to state a salary range and not ‘to £ 65 XNUMX’, as individuals will have the exact amount stated, even if they are earning significantly less than this at the moment. By adding a selection, you get room for negotiation in the offer phase, and also show individuals what the upper end of the wage band looks like in monetary terms.
The daily duties
The most important thing to remember when writing the most important tasks for the role are words that paint pictures. Use them in a way that puts the reader in a position where they can visualize how they play a daily role in the company. Who should they work with in the team, report to and more importantly how does their role play a role in the overall success of the company? It is also good to give an overview of the projects they will work on and describe the culture in the company. Avoid at all costs to use clichés, as their baseless and fall into the realm of identikit job description area.
What do we want? when do we want it?
All too often, the key skills the company is looking for in its new employment are more like a ransom need than a job description. Typical job descriptions usually consist of an exhaustive list of 10+ bullet points with skills and experiences that not even a superhero would have!
It is best practice to have around 5-6 bullet points of the key skills and experiences that are absolutely essential to be a success in the role, and no more.
Add too many points around the skills and experience required, and you exclude good individuals from applying, because in their minds they do not match every point you need, so do not bother to submit and apply. (here’s a secret – most recruiters do not send job descriptions to individuals they have attended interviews for this reason. They usually talk themselves out of the role and are beaten well before sitting at the desk of the hiring manager!).
Be sure to add the desired skills as well, but keep this to a concise number for the same reason.
What can I gain from it?
No two ways with it, this is the final and probably most important thing that will cause the individual to be fired up and click the use button, so make sure you get it right!
Show me the money, or not!
Most employers have a total misconception that because they offer a fantastic pay and benefit package that they should have the top 5% of the people applying to them. This is completely wrong! During the working day, we talk to a large number of individuals who are looking for a new role. In most cases, money is the 3rd or 4th reason they would move to greener grazing areas. If all you offer is money, you are in a lose / lose position, as you will attract applications from money motivated people who will leave as soon as a higher bidder arrives!
Instead of waving money like a magic wand, focus instead on other important benefits of working in your company, for example;
talk about your future growth plans in the short, medium and long term, the company’s vision and direction. Use this to describe looking ahead and not in the rearview mirror (when they were not working in the company!)
how does this have a positive impact on the individual, and what is the vision for the role that it will eventually become? Not everyone wants to be the next CEO of the company!
what immediate and long-term projects they want to work on to expand their skills and experience
what investments do you make in skills training and career development, and how is this monitored on an individual level?
Talk about your benefits, no matter how trivial you think they may be. Do you offer gym memberships, flexible work arrangements, on-site crèche, generous holiday rights, health insurance, cashback schemes, free fruit, company car, stock options, homework, free ironing service? The list is endless, but you get the point that you should shout this out loud and not just write ‘big benefits’, as it is intangible and means practically nothing!
How to Write the Perfect Job Description - /10
Our team at FourPointZero works with a wide range of companies across the UK, Europe and beyond. In the rapidly developing industries in which we operate.