Writing a stand out job description is no easy task. It is the balance between describing the position and its necessary skills, while also selling both the position and the workplace culture to qualified candidates. “A well-written job description can mean the difference between a trickle or a flurry of qualified applicants,” said Diane Domeyer, Executive Director of The Creative Group. “Conversely, a poorly written job description can significantly expand the quantity of unqualified applicants.”

The need to quickly fill a position is usually expected, but putting the extra time to write a strong job description is well worth the investment. According to Employment Background Investigations (EBI), job seekers have grown accustomed to show, concise and relevant job postings. This means that you should aim to keep your main descriptions from 4,000 to 5,000 characters long, which is equal to 500-600 words. Applicants are scanning through your job descriptions fast! The average number of seconds candidates spend reading parts of a job description are:

  • Job description 25.9 seconds
  • Company description 23 seconds
  • Job requirements 14.6 seconds

In order to write a job description that will attract the right candidates for your company, take these job description suggestions into consideration:

Get Your Priorities In Order

A good job description is much more than simply a laundry list of tasks and responsibilities. It’s a snapshot of the position to get candidates excited about the opportunity. You don’t want to scare people away from applying by overdoing the “must-haves”. Instead, provide an accurate description of what is most important. Focus on five or six core responsibilities of the position and three or four skills that candidates should bring to the table. Make sure those duties and skills are realistic for the role. Try to steer away from listing personal characteristics, and instead describe task-oriented skills. Anyone can be hard working but what your business needs is a hard worker who can perform the necessary duties. Always be realistic. You don’t want the description to feel like you are searching for a unicorn.   

Clearly define success in the role

Every company and position have a different definition of success. In order to set your new hire up for success, specify standards that they are expected to perform at. These benchmarks can be created for 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 6 months and one year. Having these goals laid out before the candidate is interviewed will help you to determine if they will be the best fit. The job description is a tool for measuring performance and is a vital reference for the future. Also, there is a lesser chance for candidates to not feel fully informed when you lay out the expectations early.

Keep It Short

As you are creating your next job description use this mantra: less space, less fluff! Your goal should be for a candidate to scan your post and get valuable, relevant information. For the most part, applicants want to know about the position, what it entails, where you’re located, and if they’re eligible to apply. If you can do that in a short, concise way, then you are on the right track for a stand out job description! Do you know what else you should keep short? The amount of time it takes to apply to your company. According to EBI, when applications take more than 15 minutes to complete the application, there is a 365% decrease in submission rates. So while you do want all the candidate’s meaty information, don’t scare them away with a long application.

Additional Tips to Consider:

  1. Include relationships/reporting lines – who they report to and if anyone reports to them 
  2. Research first, write second – look at similar job postings to see how you can differentiate your posting from others 
  3. Market the opportunity with a hint of challenge – this offers room for growth and opportunity to prove your innovative, problem solving skills early 
  4. Sell readers on your opportunity – you want them to imagine themselves in the position, they get invested and committed/enthusiastic early on 
  5. Many job candidates now rank work passion as a top job requirement – include how the position fits into the company as a whole and how their position makes a difference, they want to know the impact of their work 
  6. Don’t forget to add your company’s social media links to the posting – also make sure they open in a new tab or window so the reader doesn’t ever leave the job posting 
  7. If possible, always include a thank you page and/or a confirmation email after an application is submitted – a follow-up is non-negotiable 
  8. Make sure your career page is mobile friendly – 75% of Americans use their mobile device to search for a job (Mighty Recruiter).


What do you look for when reading a job description? Share in the comments below!

By: Rebecca Clausen