5 Expert Tips to Writing Better Job Titles and Descriptions

A compelling job description can be the difference between inspiring top talent to apply or losing them to a competitor. But let’s face it: There’s a lot of job content out there that’s too long, too technical or just plain boring.

The best job content is concise, uses plain language and embodies your employer brand. Content strategy expert Kristina Halvorson joined us at Indeed Interactive to share her advice on how to improve the strategies and processes that go into writing job titles and descriptions. She offered these five tips for creating richer job content to attract more top talent to your business.

1. Prioritize your reader

While it’s tempting to emphasize your team or your company when writing job content, you’ll have a better shot at resonating with job seekers if you focus on their needs. Determine the most common questions job seekers have about a role and answer those questions in the job title and description.

People want to look at your content and be able to see themselves reflected in it, says Halvorson. To address job seekers’ key concerns, write job descriptions that answer questions like:

  • What will my average workday look like?

  • What opportunities for learning and growth will be available to me?

  • What’s the dynamic of this particular team?

  • Why is this role important, and what is its impact on the business?

2. Avoid the obvious

Our research found job descriptions between 700 and 1,100 words get on average 24% more applies. Every word counts, so omit tasks and responsibilities that don’t need to be spelled out.

There are certain assumptions you can make when writing job content, says Halvorson. For example, a candidate for a senior administrative assistant role knows he’ll need to maintain files and operate basic office equipment. A candidate for a VP of marketing position knows that at a bare minimum, she’ll be expected to oversee the execution of strategic marketing plans. Don’t be afraid to cut out extraneous information for stronger job postings.

3. Write like a person

When job content is written collaboratively, it can easily become bogged down in jargon and legalese. Review job titles and descriptions for tone and readability, and rewrite them so they reflect the way people actually talk.

Listen to candidates in job interviews and note the words they use to describe themselves and the work they do. Research the keywords job seekers use when searching online for roles and companies like yours and use these words in your content when you post a job.

The job posting below from Canva, an online graphic design platform, uses approachable, straightforward language to describe how software support specialists help users get their questions answered and help Canva engineers solve problems quickly.

Image source: Canva

4. Don’t over-format

Bulleted lists, bold fonts and section headings are great tools that can aid readability. But when taken too far, they can make your job content cluttered and tiresome to read.

Rather than relying on long lists of bullet points, Halvorson suggests formatting job descriptions in concise paragraphs to create a simple narrative, keep content conversational and make it easy to scan. “If you can tell a story, and keep it short and sweet and spark that recognition, it can be very, very powerful,” she says.

An abundance of special formatting can also indicate you simply have too much content to begin with. Consider editing your content to increase focus and remove redundancies.

In the example below, MailChimp uses a simple narrative in paragraph format to explain how their data researcher will answer questions for different business units to find out how the company can improve the product and better serve customers.

Image source: MailChimp

5. Don’t fill white space

It’s tempting to think longer job descriptions look more substantial and impressive, and to pad job content, ending up with dense blocks of text. But the resulting content isn’t scannable and can overwhelm job seekers.

Resist the urge to fill all available space with more content about your company in your job titles or descriptions. Opt for quality over quantity by whittling job descriptions down to a concise narrative, rather than packing them with too many requirements, responsibilities and company factoids.

For more practical tips on attracting top performers to your organization, download our latest report, the 2016 Talent Attraction Study: How Top Performers Search for Jobs.

To attract self-directed, action-oriented candidates, recruiters need to think like active job seekers and target high-performers in the places where they’re looking for opportunities, like Indeed.