When writing job descriptions, don’t forget the excitement

With today’s top job candidates besieged with offers, how you go about writing job descriptions may determine your chances of winning the talent you need.

Here are two ways an HR manager might go about writing job descriptions for the same position. See which way of writing a job description you think would attract more and better candidates:

Description 1: Software developer: Must have strong coding skills and ability to communicate with others. Will efficiently use the following developer platforms…

Description 2: Software Developer: Works on projects that can cure serious illness and eradicate poverty by using skills with the following developer platforms… Others in this position say “I get plenty of offers but I love this job because I enjoy…” Click here for additional statements by employees in the position and to read more about the company.

If you think the HR manager writing these job descriptions wrote the second one more like an ad, right down to including testimonials, you’re right. And that’s how consultant Kevin Wheeler of Global Learning Resources, Inc. thinks it ought to be done in today’s super-competitive job market.

Using job descriptions to attract, not just describe

Wheeler says that, with so many firms after the same top candidates these days, every recruiting tool, including your writing of job descriptions, must be calculated to attract. Note the techniques used by the writer of Description 2 to do just that:

First, while both descriptions explained that knowledge was needed of certain developer platforms, the writer of the latter description attached that requirement to the company’s mission of creating software for a better world. Today’s best and brightest are often idealistic. She sought to appeal to that part of their nature.

Then, the writer added statements by employees already in the position, reasoning that there really is no one better able to explain the job and convince others why the company is a great place to work day to day. Additional links provided more information about the organization, so the candidate can see how the job fits within it.

Junk the job description boilerplate

Finally, the writer understood that some statements need not be included. Of course, the ability to communicate with others is needed. What job calls for not having it? And isn’t it obvious that a software developer must have strong coding skills and use them efficiently? Omitting this kind of “job description boilerplate” telegraphs a smart organization that gets the job done and avoids excess bureaucracy. Always keep job descriptions accurate, of course, and don’t overpromise, but adding a little excitement just might snag you the superstar you want.