Here’s Why Your Job Descriptions Aren’t Attracting Quality Candidates

Man researching job descriptions on his laptop

Everyone knows job descriptions are crucial to an efficient hiring process. By accurately addressing the requisite personal qualities, experiences, and qualifications, they enable employers to filter out unsuitable candidates without having to examine their resumes or conduct lengthy interviews. But it’s a two-way street. When first impressions really count, a job description is an organisation’s greatest chance to impress and attract the most talented job seekers in a market where talent is tight.

Like anyone else, job seekers have extremely busy schedules while the online world is home to vast amounts of job ads and accompanying information. This means they’ll generally scroll through ads quickly in an attempt to find out everything they need to know before swiftly moving on to the next.   

So, it’s essential for recruiters to master exactly what it takes to create job descriptions that stand out in the crowd and grab the attention of those busy job seekers. Here are some top tips to help you write job descriptions that are likely to attract the right candidates.

Use job titles that make sense

When people look for jobs, they generally start by searching for their current job title or one they seek to move into. So a Marketing Manager for example, would type ‘Marketing Manager’ into Indeed when looking for a similar role.

It was becoming quite common for a while to see job descriptions with titles such as ‘Marketing Guru’ or ‘Marketing Ninja’, but job seekers simply aren’t thinking of their role in this way. Similarly, if you need a barista, that should be the job title you advertise, not ‘Coffee-Making Genius’.

Job seekers are going with what they know and you should too. Search through online resumes or even other job ads of rival companies to see what titles they’re using to describe the job you’re trying to fill. By using a clear and simple title that best outlines the role, you’ll improve your chances of getting the job seen by more quality candidates.

Put yourself in the job seekers’ shoes

Don’t let your job description be one of those incomplete ads (or worse, essay-length ads that deal in generalities) which frustrate so many job seekers. Indeed data shows job descriptions between 200 and 700 characters receive up to 30% more applications than those exceeding this length.

optimal job description length

The best way to get across relevant information and key messages in the shortest possible time is to think like the job seeker— in other words, what will they want to know before committing themselves to a new organisation?

A few examples of questions your job description could answer might include:

  • What sort of personality will best fit this role?
  • Why is this role different or more interesting to roles offered by other employers?
  • How will they contribute to the business and feel rewarded?
  • Are there opportunities for learning, development and promotion?
  • Who are their colleagues and team members?
  • Aside from the role itself, what’s the company culture like?
  • What benefits, outside of pay, will they receive?

Long lists of skills and responsibilities don’t allow employers to distinguish themselves, nor do they afford job seekers the insights necessary to truly envision themselves in the role day-to-day.

Use language to demonstrate brand values and personality

There’s nothing more off-putting in a job advertisement than reading what sounds like a cut-and-pasted, generic job description. It’s not likely to generate excitement and interest when it appears similar to so many other job descriptions candidates are browsing through. So, ensure yours reads like it has been customised to the specific role in question.

Candidates also want to have a clear picture of a company’s values and culture ahead of considering a role there. To this end, it’s important your job description reads like it’s been written by a real person at the same time as reflecting the company culture, values, and personality.

Your choice of tone and language will be key to getting the right message across—a message that really resonates with the target candidate. For example, it’s easy to make an ad read more personal by using the word “you’ as opposed to “the candidate”. Similarly, casual or colloquial language where appropriate might instill a greater sense of personality that reflects a vibrant, collaborative and less hierarchical workplace culture.

Avoid internal company jargon and keep it concise

Professionals often become accustomed to a raft of industry-specific terminology used at their organisation. But while these widely accepted words and phrases might make sense among experienced colleagues, using them to reach out to the wider world in job descriptions can leave candidates feeling isolated before they’ve even started.

To ensure job descriptions engage your target job candidate, consider the specific words and phrases they might be using to describe their own skills and experiences, as well as keywords they use to search similar roles and companies online. A good way of doing this is to look through some of the resumes in Indeed’s database to see what language people are using to describe their skills and experience.

With a firm grasp of the job-seeker’s vocabulary and language, it’ll be easier to craft content that effectively translates your role, business, and requirements into an appealing job description that’s easy to digest and gets straight to the point.

In a highly competitive market, it’s never been more essential to stand out among the competition and capture the imagination of talented job seekers with the most engaging and inspiring descriptions on the market. By keeping these simple hints and tips in mind, recruiters can rest assured their job ads will reach and appeal to the widest pool of potential candidates.  

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