By Erica Swallow 2011-06-03 09:14:14 UTC
This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum. where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.
There's a lot of competition for top talent in the tech space. Writing a standout job description is an essential step toward attracting the right individuals to join your company.
As the demand for highly specialized digital talent increases in coming years, it will be even more important for companies to convey their wants, needs and culture via their websites and other digital touchpoints — job descriptions are no exception.
Here are our top tips for writing job descriptions that effectively communicate your company's available positions and the requirements for applicants. We also searched the web for some examples of well-written job listings, which you'll find below.
General guidelines on what to include in job descriptions have evolved over the years, making it simpler for employers to write them and for potential applicants to read them. Here are nine essential details to include in your company's job descriptions:
Job Title & Summary: Develop a job title for the position you're looking to fill — the title and level (assistant, senior, lead, etc.) should accurately reflect the work that the employee will perform. Be sure to choose a job title that reflects your industry's standards and organization's culture. Once you've defined the position, write a brief description of the purpose of the position and an overview of the position's main responsibilities. This summary should be short and to the point — one to three sentences should suffice.
Key Responsibilities: List all of the essential functions of the position at hand. Generally, this includes between five and 10 responsibilities. Begin each responsibility with a present-tense, action verb — "research social media trends" or "mock up new UI graphics" are good examples. Be transparent about how frequently a task will be performed or what percentage of the employee's time will be spent with each task. This helps applicants form an idea of what a typical day may look like.
Department & Supervisor: Include details on who the person would report to and where that person falls within the company's structure.
Skills & Qualifications: List all qualifications that are mandatory, along with those that are preferred. Such qualifications should include skills, years of experience, certifications, licenses, education level and necessary technical proficiencies.
Company Overview: While it is ideal that a candidate would already know essential details about the hiring company, it is helpful for potential applicants to have a description of the company (as written by the company) at hand. Include information about the company's mission, goals, industry and headquarters location. Other useful details could include the number of states and countries where the company is present, number of employees, annual sales and so on.
Location: Include details on where the position is located. If travel is necessary, note what percentage of time the employee will spend traveling and where he or she will be traveling.
Type of Employment: Be very clear about whether the position is full-time or part-time. If the position is an internship, note whether it will be paid or unpaid — be sure that the internship follows the six federal legal criteria if it is unpaid.
Salary Range &
Benefits: If your company is open to publicizing the position's salary range and benefits (such as 401(k), vacation days, or medical and dental insurance), include those details within the job description.
Recruiter Contact Information: While it may seem obvious, there are plenty of job listings on the web without contact information. Include contact information so that potential applicants can apply and ask questions.
Not all job descriptions are created equal. The perfect job description is neither too descriptive nor too vague, uses clear language and represents the ethos of the company. Here are a few formatting tips for improving your company's job descriptions:
Bullet Point When Possible: Make your job description easier to skim by using bullet points within the responsibilities and qualifications sections and anywhere else that makes sense.
Be Specific: While brevity is a much-appreciated art, it's also important to be as specific and transparent as possible in your job description. Vague descriptions make it difficult for potential applicants to imagine themselves in a role and to decide whether they are qualified for or would enjoy the job.
Use Direct Language: It's important to give potential applicants a clear idea of the responsibilities and qualifications necessary for the job. Steer away from fuzzy descriptors, such as "sometimes" or "often" when describing duties. Opt for organizing job responsibilities by hours or percentage of time spent on each.
Embody the Company's Personality: When putting the job description together, choose a writing style and words that match your company's ethos. If your business is a startup with a very distinct company culture, be sure to communicate that sentiment with the way you format your description, the words you use and the general feelings your description evokes. If that means straying from the norms, so be it. In the end, the goal is to attract people who are right for the position and the company.
Learn From the Best
The recruitment teams at Meetup, The New York Times Company, Facebook, Google and Twitter communicate effectively via their job listings. Check out examples from each company below.
HOW TO: Write a Standout Job Description
Meetup. Embody Your Company Culture
The New York Times Company. Be Available
There's almost nothing more annoying than sending a job application into the great unknown. Many job listings and recruitment sites fail to include details on how applicants can get in touch with recruiters to follow up on their applications or ask questions.
Facebook. Publicize Benefits & Perks
While some recruiters may see it as a disadvantage to publicize benefits and perks (and salary details), applicants tend to appreciate the transparency.
Google. Explain Your Various Locations
It's obvious to include the location of the position on the job description, but it takes a bit more initiative to go into depth and explain the intricacies of each office.
Twitter. Bullet Point & Be Specific
As expected, Twitter. the king of short communication, understands the power of getting to the point in recruitment descriptions.
Have you seen any unique job descriptions across the web lately? If so, let us know about them in the comments below and be sure to explain why you find them so interesting.