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Posted on February 21, 2012

How to inspire the candidates you admire

Last week, the U.S. Labor Department announced that applications for unemployment benefits dropped to the lowest level in nearly four years. It’s encouraging news when a lot of what we’re hearing about the economy is gloom-and-doom. Here at Brilliant Ink, we’re seeing our own signs that things are turning around, too. One of our clients recently sought our support for a number of recruiting and hiring efforts, including developing more compelling job descriptions for open positions.This got me thinking – what makes a good job description? Just spend a few minutes on Monster.com, and you’ll see a wide range of job descriptions, ranging from dry and functional to witty and creative. A job description is often your first and most important opportunity to make an impression on a candidate. Of course you need to cover the basics like job responsibilities, requirements, and reporting relationships. But it’s really an opportunity to paint a picture for job candidates – what’s it like to work at your company? What does the culture look and feel like? Is it the kind of place where I’d like to grow my career?Answering all these questions in a brief job description is a tall order. Here are a few tips:

  • Always stay focused on answering the age-old question, “What’s in it for me?” As you’re highlighting key information about the position and the company, be sure you’re making the case for why a candidate should choose your company over a similar position at one of your competitors. Put yourself in a candidate’s shoes – what types of information would you want to know about a particular job and company?
  • Include some brief information about your company. Any candidate seriously considering an open position will likely check out other resources like the Careers section of your website, but this may be your first (and most important) opportunity to introduce a candidate to your company. Highlight important features of the culture, tangible and intangible benefits, and growth and development opportunities.
  • People want to be empowered. As you’re describing the role, be sure to focus on opportunities for leadership and growth. Sometimes this is just a matter of semantics and positioning – rather than saying “Provide communications support to executive leaders,” you could say, “Act as strategic partner to senior executives, providing communications counsel and support.” Strong, actionable words help the candidate see how the position will help them learn and grow their career.
  • Make sure your company’s culture is reflected in the tone of the job description. If your company has a creative, entrepreneurial culture, make sure that tone shines through in the content.
  • Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. Just because your company’s job descriptions have always been written in a certain way or following a particular template, it may be a good time to shake things up.

What are your tips for writing a top-notch job description? What are some of the best job descriptions you’ve seen? Share your tips and favorite examples in the Comments section below.

Alison Harrison