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Job Description Best Practices for Sourcing Top Candidates

Step one in hiring the right talent? Attract the best candidates. But how do you attract the best candidates? By writing an effective and engaging job description that showcases your company culture and employer brand, communicates the core job duties and requirements, and ensures that both the language and the substance of your postings reflect your core values. That’s a lot to keep in mind. 

Instituting a set of standardized job description best practices can ensure that your hiring and human resources managers hit all those marks with each job description. Here are our job description best practices for attracting top applicants.

1. Keep It Concise

Even the most eager job seekers will lose interest in a posting that takes more time to read than a good novel. Job postings longer than 500 words see less engagement than those that don’t pass the half-page mark. So focus on sharpening language to include only necessary information and cutting out any filler. Taking a few extra minutes to craft short, declarative sentences in the active voice can have a big payoff – job seekers are more likely to perceive your organization as dynamic and goal-oriented. 

2. Use Equitable and Inclusive Language 

Biased language in a job description may keep top applicants from applying and stifles diversity. And a diverse workplace comes with many benefits.

Eliminating language that reinforces stereotypes that certain roles are better suited for men or women is a job description best practice. One study found that qualified female candidates were less likely to apply for a position where the job description included ‘masculine’ adjectives like ‘aggressive’, ‘competitive’, and ‘individualistic’ based on the belief that they lacked the right personality for the company. 

Mind your pronouns too. Updating your job postings regularly should already be a job description best practice, but take a moment during your next review to change any stray pronouns from ‘he’ or ‘she’ to ‘they’ to ensure the most inclusive language possible. Not only do you avoid bias, but neutral pronouns also signal an inclusive environment for all gender identities and expressions. 

Companies should also take care to use neutral language when discussing benefits – ‘veterans and their wives’, for example, would be better written as ‘veterans and their spouses’.

3. Avoid Jargon and Acronyms 

Some jargon will inevitably creep into your postings, particularly if you’re hoping to fill a role with specific technical requirements or you operate in a highly-specialized industry. But try to keep it to a minimum. Too much jargon risks artificially narrowing your applicant pool and can even turn off interested, qualified candidates. 

Research has shown that, while jargon, acronyms, and initialisms promote a strong sense of belonging to those already associated with an organization, they have the opposite effect on potential new joiners.  Even where the new joiners previously reported high levels of confidence in their abilities and interest in the organization.

4. Spell Out Your Requirements with Care

It’s a common job description best practice to state the requirements for a position clearly to avoid a flood of unqualified applicants. But it’s important to monitor your language for implicit biases. It’s easy for “a bachelor’s degree and three years of experience” to become “a bachelor’s degree from a top university and three years of experience with a multinational company” if you’re not careful. And while catchy slang gives candidates a taste of your casual, friendly office culture, requirements like, “must be a project management rockstar” or “copy editing sorceress” may leave some applicants unsure as to whether they have the skills you’re looking for.

Whether you’re developing new job description best practices or refining existing standard procedures, crafting recruitment postings that use clear, concise, bias-free language keeps you from missing out on top talent and helps your organization benefit from a diverse workforce.