How to Write a Great Job Description 

5 minutes | Travis O'Rourke | Article | Recruiting Permanent hiring Temporary and contract hiring

Man at computer desk

A job ad is the crucial first step in attracting fantastic talent to your team. Travis O’ Rourke, President of Hays Canada, gives his decades of experience on how to write a description that works. 

Writing a good job description: Key Insights 

  • Candidate expectations are changing. In order to attract the best talent in the modern workplace, businesses must shake up the style and tone of your job descriptions. 
  • For example, to reach relevant job seekers and rank well on search engines, they must include keywords – such as key industry terms, salary details and location. Clarity and relevance is all important. 
  • A good job description tells the applicant everything they need to know about the job, including the tasks involved and the wider purpose and culture of the organization. 
  • To write an effective advert that contains all the information, you can follow our simple template below. 

Alternatively, contact your local consultant for more info on how we can help you with your recruitment needs, from job adverts onward. 

The importance of a good job description: Background 

The world of work is changing. Job applicants have different priorities and new considerations when looking for their next big role. Not only that, but the increasing digital reliance means that job seekers’ expectations of brand engagement have also evolved. Combined, these two trends mean that companies should reappraise how they write job adverts. 

Active job seekers will be attracted to brands that provide a positive experience from their first point of contact. Writing a good job description starts this relationship off on the best possible footing. Organizations must promote their jobs to professionals in compelling and meaningful ways if they are to make an impact in a crowded market. 

What do job-seekers want to see in a job advert? 

It’s crucial to include key information about the role and your organization. You are much more likely to engage and keep the interest of jobseekers if you give them a fuller picture of the opportunity. The Hays What Workers Want research showed that: 

  • 80% want to see a detailed role description 
  • 65% want to see the role requirements 
  • 61% want to see compensation and benefits information 

How can I add maximum value to my online job descriptions? 

We live in a busy digital world with lots of distractions. If you want to make your advert stand out, there are a few things to bear in mind and brief your recruiter: 

  • Use a common, searchable job title. Including a location in the title will also help to ensure your job posting is found by the most appropriate candidates on search engines. 
  • Make sure the body content is clear, relevant and includes commonly searched keywords. Think about structure. Descriptions should be easy to digest, so you may wish to use bullet points rather than extensive paragraphs. 
  • Think carefully about what information candidates will really find valuable and incentivizing. Whilst it’s tempting to include all of the information about your organization, remember that candidates really only value information that will affect their working life. Obviously important is insight into the type of work the position involves and the compensation and benefits. What does success in the role look like? What are the potential career paths available? Describe the underlying principles of the company and your culture. Your recruiter can help narrow this down to what really matters.  
  • Connect the job with your company’s strategic priorities. Express the broader objectives of your organization and demonstrate how this role helps to achieve them. 

What sort of language should I use in a job advert? 

A job advert is a piece of professional writing and there are certain rules that should be followed when composing one. You are also representing your organization via the advert, so it’s important to embed your values and company identity in the wording. 

Things to remember when crafting a job description include: 

  • Using compassionate and empathetic language is an opportunity to show that your brand has a human identity.  
  • Avoid negative language. Words like “can’t”, “never” and “must” imply that you will demand things from the candidate, or that your workplace culture is very authoritarian. 
  • Make sure to use inclusive language and imagery.  
  • Adopt the first or second-person. Third-person language is too formal and creates a gulf between you and applicants. Referring to “we” or “you” feels much more personable than “the successful candidate”. Writing in the first or second-person helps candidates envision themselves in the role. 

A good recruitment partner can ensure that your job descriptions are aligned with your brand’s tone of voice, using the correct language. 

How should I promote our company culture in the job description? 

Aside from salary, workplace culture is the most important criteria for candidates. Expressing your company culture is critical if you are to attract candidates who would be a good fit for your company.  

There are several ways to do this: 

  • Organizational purpose and company values. Many candidates are looking to align with employers who share their progressive values and goals. As a leader, ask yourself what’s important to your organization? Do you value curiosity, honesty, expertise? Use the job ad as a way to showcase your stance. For example, if you are an innovation-led business, mention some of the things your organization has done that are exciting and new. 
  • Growth and progression opportunities. Emphasize what you can offer as an employer. Talk about your investment in your employees, and the learning and development opportunities you provide.  
  • What sets your organization apart from others? This could be a first-class flexible working scheme, innovative products or services, remote working opportunities, regular team socials or birthdays off. You need to identify your own USP as an employer. Not all of these details might seem greatly important, but together, they can really help your brand to stand out to potential jobseekers. 

What does a good job description look like? 

1. A relevant and descriptive job title 

Applicants may see hundreds of job ads every day. It’s vital to include a clear title that will hook the candidate and invite them to read further.  

2. A brief introduction and background about the company 

This should be a single paragraph that gives a flavor of the most appealing aspects of both the role and your organization. This is a good place to briefly draw attention to, accolades and awards. 

3. Your company story 

As mentioned above, culture is a huge consideration for professionals applying for new roles. It is crucial to introduce the values of your organization, as well as your organizational purpose. Showcase company diversity and inclusivity (D&I), job security and progression opportunities. 

4. The main job description 

This is the main part of the job description where you outline the major details of the role. You must be clear and comprehensive, without overwhelming the reader with too much detail. Consider what challenges you will expect the new hire to resolve in the role. Those challenges should form the spine of your description. Also, be sure to reference other elements, such as the working hours, salary, benefits, development opportunities, and anything else an employee might find enticing. 

5. Your ideal candidate 

The person specification is a powerful part of a job advert. It should present a list of the required skills and desirable traits of the ideal candidate for the role. This description should be effective in narrowing down a shortlist of candidates, whilst keeping the job ad broad enough to also attract those with transferable skills.

6. An explanation of your application process 

Outline what will happen once a candidate has applied. Giving clear details will assure them that you are professional and a company with a genuine regard for people. Managing expectations is key to a positive application experience. Even if you do not ultimately invite them to interview, the candidate may retain a positive impression of your business going forward. 

7. Closing statement 

It should end with a closing statement that encapsulates the best parts of your role and your organization. In particular, it should express an eagerness to continue the conversation post-application. You can promote the company generally here, by including links to any website pages or videos which illustrate what it’s like to work with you. 

About this author

Travis O'Rourke
President of Hays Canada & CCO, Hays Americas

Travis is a Marketing graduate from Fanshawe College and was the 2023 recipient of their Distinguished Alumni Award. He joined Hays after holding various leadership roles elsewhere in the Canadian staffing industry. Travis setup and established Hays' outsourced talent solutions business and played an integral role in building Hays’ temporary and contract divisions throughout Canada. Initially joining Hays with a deep background in Technology, he holds extensive cross functional knowledge to provide clients with talent solutions in Financial Services, Energy, Mining, Manufacturing, Retail, and the Public Sector.

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