15 Science-Backed Tips for Writing an Effective Job Description

Who wants to hire someone who ultimately is a bad fit? Nobody. But it happens more times than you think. Here is a 15-step process to follow to ensure smooth sailing when it comes to bringing that next great candidate on board.

Hiring is a tough job. Sure, you need to find the right candidate to fit, but what happens before interviewing and reviewing applications can be even more critical. That step is the writing and posting of a job description. If you don’t create one that is catchy and alluring, no one will bother applying. And if you don’t write a job description that fits the job well enough, you’ll be spending most of your time tossing out resumes. Worse, you’ll end up hiring someone who doesn’t end up fitting and you’ll be one of the unlucky hiring professionals who needs to start the job search process all over again. Who wants that?

So, how do you create a job description that both fits the job and brings in the right people? Employment Background Investigations (EBI), a global screening solutions concern, took on this task by finding science-backed tips to show how to write a job description.

Let’s start at the top with the title. Keep the job title itself just 50 to 60 characters long. When researching, EBI found that titles with that length out-performed others by almost 40 percent. You also need to be specific to your industry. If there is a terminology that your sector uses, make sure to match it in your title. For example, when comparing the title CNA and Certified Nursing Assistant, the title CNA got almost 40 percent more clicks to apply. This shows that for those in the nursing/medical industry, the abbreviation is more prevalent.

Looking more in the description itself. Be sure to keep the copy of the description to about 4,000 characters. These descriptions get the highest click-to-apply rates. Make it scannable, utilizing bullet points and line breaks wherever possible. Most users aged 18 to 29 are using a smartphone to search for their jobs, so if it isn’t scannable on your phone this demographic is unlikely to apply.

Consider your age group. When polled, younger groups are more interested in jobs that can help them pay the bills. If you are trying to attract younger applicants, frame your job to fit that mindset. Let them know that once they leave, there won’t be any work to do on their own free time. Conversely, the 35 year old and up group are most interested in a job that they can have long term. These things may seem obvious, but you’d be amazed at how much of a difference it would make.

Where to put the salary. While this is often contested, research has shown that including a salary range can increase applicants who are applying for the job by 50 percent. If you are thinking of adding salary ranges to the bottom of the page, don’t do it. Putting the salary range at the top actually doubled the amount of applicants in one study.

Some general things to consider. The application itself should take no longer than 15 minutes to complete. That means eliminating potential pain points or duplicative information fields. Be sure to run through your own application process to see if there are any frustrating sections.

Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor –Hunt Scanlon Media

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