Using Job Descriptions to Attract Better Candidates

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Face it, finding qualified candidates for your open jobs isn’t easy. You can spend weeks sifting through all of the resumes that come into your inbox and still not find the type of applicants that you’re looking for. The real culprit in this problem may is your job description. Everything from the title of the job description, to the keywords used, and the actual description play a significant role in the quality of the candidates that apply to your open job. So how do you find these mythical “perfect candidates” using your job descriptions as a divining rod?

Step 1 – Using keywords to increase candidate volume

Keywords became popular in the world of search engine optimization as a way to drive traffic to your website based on popular search queries and the competition for those keywords. Well, the same theory applies to job descriptions. The better optimized your job description is for specific job-related keywords, the more likely your job description is to be seen by potential candidates. For example, if you were posting a job for a sales representative, then you would also want to include keywords for related searches such as sales consultant, inside sales, account executive, sales professional, business development, etc. to increase the volume of candidates that may be interested in your position.

Step 2 – Using a Job Description Title to Attract Candidates

This may seem a little far-fetched at first, but something as simple as the title of your job description can make all the difference in your hiring efforts. Take this simple search for a recruiting coordinator for example, all of these job descriptions blend in with one another. What would happen if someone were to create a job description that had a little more “pizzazz” in the title? WORK[etc]], a small business CRM company posted a blog where they had conducted a search for a Technical Writer. Having found that all of the other job descriptions were using the same old bland “Technical Writer” for the title, they decided to do something a little different. They titled their job “Half Unicorn, Half Technical Writer” and the results were tremendous. With this job title alone, they were able to spread their open job posting virally, stand out from the crowd, and attract the high-quality, high-charisma writer that they were looking for.

Step 3 – Using the Job Description to Pre-Screen Candidates

Pre-screen may be too strong of word, but depending on the language you use in your job description, you can easily filter out poor fit candidates, or candidates that do not share the same values of you and your company. If you want to attract a wide variety of candidates who may or may not be the ideal fit, then you would opt for a more skills based job description. An example of this would be if someone posted a role for an entry-level marketing position, they would list the desired skills as:

  • College Degree
  • Coursework involving marketing
  • Strong communication skills
  • Experience in Adobe Photoshop
  • Experience with Marketo or some other marketing automation

While this form of job description may be decent at helping you find an entry-level candidate or an intern, it does not help to filter candidates by their cultural fit or ability to perform said tasks or skills. By using a more performance oriented job description you can determine a candidates overall skills and fit for the position. For example, if you were looking for a Direct Marketing Manager your performance based job description would look more like:

  • Be able to manage a marketing calendar involving multiple nurture campaigns
  • Be able to achieve an average open rate of 12% or higher for all email campaigns
  • Generate 5% lead conversion rate from targeted email campaigns
  • Create engaging email copy that engages prospects and evokes desired actions

By phrasing your job description in a performance-based manner, you can set the expectations for candidates to determine whether they are the right fit for the position, and it allows you to effectively benchmark candidate’s to assess whether they are the right fit from a skills and motivation perspective.

Within the actual job description as well, you want to ensure that you include clear day-to-day responsibilities of the open position to allow candidates to assess whether position truly aligns with their interests. After all, the more aligned a candidate is with the responsibilities, the more engaged and motivated they will be on a daily basis. Additionally, you would want to include a description of your company where you really showcase the personality and the culture, to weed out candidates that would be a poor fit from a cultural perspective.

The road to finding the perfect hire is never an easy one, but writing good job descriptions can help to filter out candidates that are a poor fit and focus on the most qualified candidates from both a cultural and skills based perspective. If you still have difficulty finding the right candidates, you can always seek additional help from outsourced recruiting and HR professionals.


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