11 Tips For Writing Effective Job Descriptions

Author Rob Sicat Date May 13 2019

An effective job description is your first chance to engage with the best and the most qualified job candidates, while improving your hiring process. When thinking about how to write a good job description for your business, you need to include factors that will attract your candidate’s interest as well as portray your company in the best light.

Effective job descriptions should include a job summary to encourage your applicant to apply. If you get the job description right, this can have a significant impact on reducing your time to hire rates because you have attracted the appropriate candidate in the first place.

The tips below will take you through writing effective job descriptions.

But first, here are some things to avoid when writing that job description.

Avoid bias to write effective job descriptionsA paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has found that there are some words that could cause offense and be construed as gender bias in job ads. Gender bias in job descriptions can be very subtle. However, it can still have a negative impact on your hiring process, as this can put-off the most qualified candidates from applying.

Using inclusive language will widen your applicant pool so that you are not limited to one demographic and is key for writing effective job descriptions. Preventing bias in your job ad means that your job description encourages everyone to apply as long as they have the right qualifications and skills. Research by ZipRecruiter has found that gender neutral language can assist your business in sourcing and recruiting the best candidates from a more diverse demographic of society.

Remove unrealistic expectations when writing effective job descriptions

It can be tempting to ask for your whole wish list when writing a good job description. However, you need to stick to the most important skills and experiences required. When thinking about how to write an effective job description, you need to include only the necessary skills, experience and knowledge required for the candidate to perform their duties and responsibilities. In this way, you can make up for what you perceive to be a shortfall by offering training on the job.

Before writing effective job descriptions, figure out how onboarding and workplace-based training can improve your new hire’s knowledge and skills in order to fulfill the role appropriately.

Clarity is key when writing good job descriptions

You should avoid any guesswork when it comes to your job descriptions. Candidates should be clear about what you need if you’ve written an effective job description. For example, list the hours that are required, whether candidates need to have any special certificates or whether the applicant needs to have a driving license. This clarity will help to reduce the number of unqualified candidates who are just applying because they are not sure of your full requirements.

Avoid negativity when writing effective job descriptions

Use positive language to attract clients with the same attitude. Avoid using statements like, “If you do not have this amount of experience, then you will not be considered.” This language puts candidates on the back foot and may even turn off candidates who are qualified for your job. Instead, when writing a good job description, be polite and list your requirements in a more user-friendly way. For example, “This role requires 10 years of experience, so only applicants with this level of experience can be considered.”

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Tips to use when writing effective job descriptions.

1. Effective job descriptions have clear job titles ‍

People will be searching for jobs that will suit their qualifications and their skills. Therefore, using job titles like “Uniform Engineer” or “Rockstar Developer” is going to reduce your pool of applicants. Using different and weird job titles might fit into the culture of your company, but will not lead to an effective job description. The most qualified candidates will not be looking for jobs with wizards, alchemists and other unconventional terms in the title. This article from Business Insider lists some weird job titles that have been used:

  • Wizard of lightbulb moment is a Marketing Director.
  • Chief Chatter is a Call Centre Manager.
  • Direct Mail Demigod is a Direct Mail Manager.
  • Dream Alchemist is a Head Of Creative.
  • Conversation Architect is a Digital Marketing Manager.

While the job titles above appear to be fun, missing out on the best candidate because your company wants to appear cool, can have serious consequences for your recruitment process and your business in general.

2. Write a brief job summary when creating an effective job description

Effective job descriptions have job summaries that are no more than four sentences and provide an outline of the job. It should include the main tasks that the candidates will be fulfilling and what function the job will serve in your organization. It should also explain why the job is important to the company’s mission and values.

3.   Good job descriptions address the candidates directly ‍

Use the second person when writing effective job descriptions. An effective job description should be relatable as well as professional. Speak directly to the candidates so they will get a brief idea of what it would be like to work with your business. Ensure that the language is clear because most applicants skim job descriptions, especially when they are reading on mobile devices.

4.    Good job descriptions are descriptive about job duties and responsibilities

Job duties and responsibilities should be clear in a good job description, brief and to the point as well as providing a general outline of what the candidates will be responsible for.

For example, “You will be heading up the content marketing team.” should also include specific job duties, like:

  • Managing a content marketing budget.
  • Implementing best practices for SEO.
  • Creating digital content strategies across all of our platforms.

5. Get feedback from current employees ‍to write effective job descriptions

When writing an effective job description, you need to work with the employees who are currently in the role to ensure that the job description is representative of what is actually required to do the job. If it has been a while since you have recruited for this job position, the job responsibilities and duties may have changed.

You must work with people who are doing the job to get their input and feedback as to whether the old job description is still suitable. This is where you can highlight whether you will provide training for candidates so that they will no longer need to be equipped with a particular type of experience when applying.

6. Good job descriptions are realistic when selling your job‍

Given that the unemployment rate is one of the lowest ever and competition for jobs is high, it can be tempting to oversell your job. There needs to be a fine line between selling your job to persuade candidates to make the application and over-exaggerating what is an offer. An effective job description balances both.

When writing effective job descriptions, avoid using language that’s over the top. For instance, “off the charts” and “world class”. Additionally, try to stay away from using a set of criteria that could have too narrow a focus. For example, “perfectionist”. There may be people who are extremely good at their jobs but do not see themselves as perfectionists and may be put off from applying to the role.

7. Effective job descriptions show-off your company


A great job description uses it as an opportunity to give the candidates a glimpse into how your company operates and your workplace culture. In order to entice candidates to apply, you can include links or very short one-line statements from existing employees about why they like working with you.

Candidates will ask themselves whether they will be a good fit for your company culture. So providing them with a bit of information about your company in your job description is very important. You can highlight perks like free lunches, flexible schedules and remote working.

Cultural fit is crucial because if you hire someone without the necessary experience, they can be trained to do their job. However, if the new hire is a bad cultural fit, it is very unlikely that this person will not stay and this will have a negative impact on your turnover rate, which would lead to spending more money to replace the person. When highlighting the culture in your company, ensure that it is not to the detriment of inclusion and diversity. If you are including photos of your employees, ensure that the photos are from a diverse range of people who work for your organization.

8. Good job descriptions focus on perks‍

As well as listing the job duties and responsibilities, you also have to include what is available for the candidate beyond pay. However, if you offer pay that is above the industry average, you should include this in your job description. For example, if you are a retailer and you pay above the state’s minimum wage. This will show that your pay is competitive in relation to companies like, Amazon who are increasing their minimum wage.

The perks of jobs will be different for various employee classifications. For example, full-time employees will be enticed by perks like health insurance, whereas hourly workers will be encouraged to apply for your job when you offer perks like flexible scheduling and discounts on your goods and services. You can also talk about whether there are developmental opportunities within your business. For instance, if you are recruiting within the restaurant industry and are hiring a junior chef, you can specify that this position will provide support and time-off for studying to progress to a more senior role within your restaurant.

9. Concentrate on the details when writing effective job descriptions

Hiring managers sort out applications and resumes based on factors, like grammar and spelling. Your business will also be judged on the same so be sure to use spell checking facilities and check your grammar to ensure that it’s error-free before you publish your job description. Ideally, a good job description should be seen through different eyes before it is published. As well as checking for the correct spelling and grammar, make sure that you are not using too much jargon or clichés when writing your job description. When formatting your job description to be effective, try to put the most important information at the top so candidates will be drawn to the most crucial details first.

10. Use effective job description templates

You can do a quick search for sample job descriptions to find ones that will suit your needs. The job board Monster.com has a list of different job description templates for different types of roles. For example:

11. Formulate a plan to deal with job applications

After spending time, effort and resources to write the perfect job description, you need to have a plan in place when it has attracted the candidate you are looking for. You must have the right tools in place to process your applications efficiently, irrespective of the number of people who have applied.

Using a modern hiring tool, like Fountain, you can offer your applicant the personalized experience that puts your business in the best light. You can also use our artificial intelligence, (AI) and automation and analytics functionality to ensure that you are aware of the places where your job description is performing the best. We also provide the capability to enable you to communicate with your applicants from the first time they apply to when they are hired.


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About the Author

Director, Product

Rob Sicat

Rob is an experienced product and design leader and currently the head of a Fountain team that is building hiring tools for the future. He has spent the last decade working with startups of all sizes across product management and design.