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Make your hires count by writing great job descriptions

Whether you’re hiring steadily or just looking to fill one specific position, finding the right fit is essential. That’s true if your operations are currently virtual, you’re back on site, or you’re somewhere in between.

No matter the role, you want to find that fit as fast as you can. But you can’t compromise culture for speed. That makes knowing what you’re looking for, right down to the letter, of utmost importance.

Let’s run through a quick checklist designed to make sure you’re covering all your bases, so you can build a job description that leads to a great hire. Make sure you can answer all of the following questions in the affirmative before posting that job:

Have you collected all the right information from stakeholders?

Most people don’t perform jobs in isolation, so don’t write their descriptions that way, either. Gather information from stakeholders, and from incumbents (whether they’re moving up, over, or out). SurveyMonkey has a free tool that lets you ask up to 10 questions. Collect input on the role’s expectations, title, compensation, and scope to help ensure your hire’s long-term success.

Do you have boilerplate copy you can apply to the beginning of job descriptions?

This copy should lay out in compelling terms the mission of your organization, the culture you’re trying to build, and the common traits you look for in the people your organization hires. A job description may be the first time any candidate will encounter your brand, and this could be the first thing they read, so you want to put your best foot forward.

Have you identified the behavioral traits you need in a candidate?

Do you know how much extraversion will be needed in this role? How about dominance, patience, or formality? Make sure you frame the role with respect to your particular team dynamics. Include those findings in your job description to reflect the traits you know you need. Consider using The Predictive Index model, which is derived from more than 23 million employee assessments. The PI Job Assessment will help you determine the precise needs for a role, and the PI Behavioral Assessment can help you screen candidates for the strongest match.

Have you described a job title and function?

You’ve got a sense what you need the role to include, but how does that match up with how the world views job titles, roles, and responsibilities? O-Net (the Occupational Information Network) is a publicly available search system that uses common language to describe job titles, functions, skills, abilities, knowledge, work activities, and interests to associated occupations. Use it as a reference point to be sure the right candidates find you, and you are not confusing them with an out-of-sync job description.

Have you clearly articulated the KSAs required for successful candidates?

Be clear about the specific capabilities you need out of someone in this role. The challenge here is finding that balance between creating a list of what you really need from this person and what’s realistic skillset for one person. For sample lists of KSAs (knowledge, skills, and abilities), check out FedCareerInfo.com.

Have you used the right words to get attention?

Once you’ve got some coherent words on paper, you’ll want to know if they’re actually going to attract any candidates! A tool like Textio gives you a way to analyze your job descriptions and predict their performance. It scores your descriptions, and offers you real-time guidance on how to improve your job posting with shiny words candidates will love.

Have you optimized for search engines?

Searches for everything—including jobs—often start in the same place: Google. Make sure your job descriptions and listings show up when candidates search by paying attention to SEO (Search Engine Optimization). If you do a lot of recruiting, you might consider a tool like Moz, which can point you in the direction of popular keywords and opportunities to rank high in a search result. Google Analytics also offers some tools for you to see which words are driving traffic to your current listings.

Is your job description ADA-compliant?

You’d be surprised how many job descriptions out there could get a careless company sued. Protect yourself and your company by making sure your job descriptions are completely legal and compliant—especially with ADA guidelines for your physical job requirements or limitations. Download this handy checklist NICQA has put together for their organizations, which includes a full table of ADA-approved language.

Has the job been proofread and/or edited?

Have you had at least one other person review the job posting to ensure it is compelling and doesn’t contain erroneous information or typos? Don’t have any good editors to help you? A simple tool like Grammarly might be worth trying.

Want to learn more? See how PI works, and ensure the right fit with your next hire.


Andy is a content writer and editor at PI. He's an unashamed map geek, hoops enthusiast, and Goldfish cracker aficionado.

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