Job Description Writing Tips

One of the most common challenges for business owners and hiring managers in small companies is writing effective job postings. In many cases, writing new job postings is seldom done and every new job opening is somewhat unique based on the evolving needs of the business. Unlike large organizations that have highly specialized roles, most roles within smaller companies encompass a broad range of responsibilities and don’t fall neatly into a specific category.

Writing a good, effective job description drives a strong response rate and is a form of art that requires creativity, salesmanship, and wordsmithing: three characteristics that don’t always fall into the wheelhouse of a typical hiring manager.

When a position opens, you often find an extremely busy manager trying to hard shift from running their business to facing a blank document, attempting to write a job description from scratch. They might go out and find a similar job title on one of the job boards or search engines to use as a template that can then be customized, but even that can be very challenging as very few roles in small businesses are the same and certainly every company is unique.

Double Check Your Descriptions For:

Over (or under) selling the company

       Providing too much detail about the job role

Being unrealistic in developing the list of ‘requirements’

       Being too technical or heavy in ‘internal acronyms'

       Listing the pay rate without confirming that the pay is competitive within the market

      Posting a job with misspellings, grammatical errors, and/or formatting issues

 

Candidates who look at your job have likely looked at dozens if not hundreds of other jobs as well. They often tend to be tired, frustrated, and full of anxiety. Many start with large companies that they assume are stable, pay well, and offer great benefits. If they don’t recognize the name of the company, they will scan the posting looking for specific things they are interested in and if they don’t see those items of interest quickly, they will move on to the next one.

As a result of candidates natural inclination to trust large companies and be somewhat leery of small companies, the approach to writing job postings for a large company is much different than it is for a small company. 

The Advantage of Large Companies:

Not only do they not need to worry so much about educating and informing potential applicants what they do, they can be very specific with the requirements they are looking for. They will more than likely generate a high volume of interest and applicants due to the established trust they have generated through expensive marketing efforts. It is assumed they are stable, pay well, provide training, and offer great benefits.

As a result, they can get away with listing 20 or 30 bullet points with specific levels of experience with various software platforms, job functions, etc.

For large companies, the job postings act almost as a natural filter to weed out “unqualified” candidates. If you don’t have EVERYTHING we are looking for, don’t bother applying. The last thing these companies want is hundreds of applicants that they are likely to generate with a loosely written job posting.

Strategy for Small Companies:

For small companies, the job posting should be treated like a Job ADVERTISEMENT versus a job description or job posting. Save presenting the specific tactical responsibilities of the role for the phone screen or even the interview process. For small companies, the job posting is a chance to market the company, tell potential candidates what they do and why they are such a great place to work. If you don’t have any competitive differentials, implement them ASAP. You can’t honestly market something that isn’t true.

A few examples of “selling points” a small business should consider including in their company description (when they are true) are below:

   Well funded start up

   Explosive growth

  Ground floor opportunity

  Unlimited income potential

  Dynamic, fun casual environment

  Disruptive

  A seasoned team of experts

  Extremely happy clients

   Frequent company outings

  Family atmosphere

  Flexibility

  Work hard, play hard

  Great benefits

  Above market pay

Once you have the candidate excited about your company, proceed to selling the role and how important and exciting it is. For example, “as an Account Executive with ABC company, you will be on the front lines as the face and voice of the company. Your role will build relationships with our prospects and clients, earning their trust and advocating for their best interest as they take advantage of our differentiated suite of products and services”.

Focus on Soft Skills

When listing job requirements, list the absolute requirements but focus mostly on the soft skills and character descriptions. A few examples of “requirements” a small business should consider including in their job postings are below:

   Highly talented, smart, aggressive professionals

   Ambitious individuals who want to learn and grow

  Hard-workers

  Self-starters

  Independent, trustworthy

 

   Possess a strong desire to make an impact

   Enjoy the satisfaction of attaining and exceeding goals

  Works well with others in a collaborative environment 

  Good personality

  Willingness to embrace and appreciate diversity 

 

Approach to Listing Necessary Skills:

Of course, you need to include some actual hard skills, but again, it is all in the tone and verbiage. When possible, try to be more broad and less specific unless is is an absolute must have: 

  • Strong technical proficiency and a desire to learn new systems and software
  • Proficient with Microsoft Office
  • Above average skills with Excel
  • Experience tracking sales activity within a CRM
  • Good understanding of the Financial Services space

 Treat your job as a company advertisement

As a small company with limited brand recognition, the job posting truly is your company advertisement. You need to grab the attention of potential job applicants by marketing the strengths and differentiators of your company. Good candidates will have lots of options. Why should they come to work for your company? Tell them...but don't oversell them!

 Keep it brief

Long job postings are candidate killers. Your posting should be a couple of paragraphs and a handful of bullets. In this case, less is usually more. You want to pique their interest and encourage them to proceed with the submission of their resume to learn more. Don't give them too much information, using the job posting to filter out candidates. As a small company, it is hard enough to generate qualified applicants. Don't scare off the good candidates trying to screen out the bad ones. 

 Make it look good 

Be sure to take the extra time to read the posting one more time to correct any misspellings, punctuation errors, or forgetting errors. Don't over think it or get too clever, but more importantly, don't make a bad first impression by rushing. Remember, it is a company advertisement designed to attract future rock stars. 

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