Making a job description is the first step to finding the right person for the job. In our previous blog post we covered the checklist of what to include in a killer job description. However, a job ad is much more than a carefully compiled list of requirements. It’s a sales pitch for the company as the go to employer on the block. If you are trying to attract talented employees who not only make good culture fits, but also elevate the company as a whole, here are 10 tips to get you started.

1. Tell your company’s story

You may already have a well known brand, backed by a sleek website with an extensive ‘about’ section. On the other hand, you could be just starting off with nothing but a facebook page in place. Eitherway, this is your opportunity to recap the company’s journey in a nutshell. What is the problem you are trying to solve? How are your products/services solving that? What are your vision, mission and core values? How do you work on a day to day basis and treat the people in your team? Convey to the readers why they should take on this role at your company, instead of the same role at your competitor’s business. This is your chance to convince them to be a part of your story and even help to shape it.

2. Focus on what you have to offer

When writing a job description you can go two ways. You can either focus on what you want from an applicant, or what you can offer them. Striking a balance between the two can seem like the best option. However, studies show that employee-centered job ads are three times more likely to attract higher-quality candidates. Offerings don’t only mean salary, stock options, gym memberships, lunches and so forth. Of course, perks and fun additions can be a huge bonus. However, what’s equally important are factors such as freedom to decide how you work, career development opportunities and ability to impact major decisions of the company. Thus, if you want to attract superstar talent who also make better matches, then put the focus on the ‘talent’.

"Employee-centered job ads are three times more likely to attract higher-quality candidates."

3. Give learning potential center stage

Typically job descriptions tend to highlight qualifications, skills and experiences an applicant must have at the time of applying for the job. However, in reality the success of someone performing a job well depends on what they can do, with what they have. Therefore, focus the vacancy advertisement you’re creating on the same. Emphasize how much you value a person’s learning potential. Connect the responsibilities and expectations of the role to the growth and development the candidate could achieve, and the impact he or she would bring. This way you’ll attract candidates who have much more to offer than a good looking CV.

4. Be inclusive

A key guiding principle of an employer is to provide equal opportunities to qualified candidates from all walks of life. Job descriptions convey a clear message on how a company celebrates and promotes diversity and inclusion. Rethink the language and design you are using. Remember ‘how’ you communicate is as important as what you communicate. The adjectives, anecdotes, colours and fonts you use can have the ability to attract or exclude an entire demography. You are essentially describing the type of person you intend on hiring. Thus, make sure the tone you use speaks to everyone.

Startuplifers team

5. Get the current team involved

A job is a dynamic thing. In that, the responsibilities and tasks, technologies and tools, skills and qualifications related to it all evolve with time. Often the person with the most amount of uptodate information on a specific role, is the one who’s doing it at the moment. Moreover, he or she is more likely to know which additional skill or knowledge is missing within the team. Therefore, get the relevant team members’ input when creating a job advert.

6. Make it easy to read

Long descriptive paragraphs, exhaustive lists of bullet points, reference links, etc. might make a job description informative. However, chunks of lengthy text is often quite unappealing. Apart from being difficult on the eyes, they can also show the company in the wrong light – ‘boring’, ‘too serious’, ‘old school’. Therefore, try to keep it comprehensive but concise. Break the text up into paragraphs, subheadings, and lists not exceeding 5 bullet points. Keep the bolding, underlining, italics and shading to a minimum and consistent. Leave plenty of negative spaces in between.

7. Keep the list of required skills tight

Hiring a candidate who can hit the ground running is every employer’s dream. So naturally you may want to find someone who can do everything. Thus, a large potion of most job descriptions are covered by a long list of required skills the ideal candidate should have. Unfortunately, this can scare away great candidates who fit very well into the role but lack one or two skills from the list. On the other hand, if candidates feel you’re demanding skills that are not relevant to or are much more than what the role requires, this can also deter them from applying. So once you create the first draft of an exhaustive list of skills ask yourself the following questions – Which of these skills are really relevant? Which of them are good to have but not mandatory? Are there similar or alternative things a person could have done to develop transferable skills or knowledge? Depending on the answers break up the list and include only what’s needed.

10 tips for writing a job description for a startup

8. Put a deadline on it

If necessity is the mother of innovation, then urgency is of motivation. Recruiting candidates on a rolling basis with no specific deadline is one way to go. However, by creating a sense of urgency, within reason, you are more likely to get applications from motivated candidates. Therefore, make sure to include an application deadline on your job description. Also don’t forget to stick to it and remove the job advertisement once the date passes.

9. Be clear, direct and open

At the end of the day a job description has to successfully describe what the company expects from the applicant and vice versa. If an applicant is feeling confused about what they have to do and why they are doing it, then they cannot assess if this is the right role for them. Therefore, be very clear from the get go. It’s best to leave out overly complicated industry jargon, cryptic company codes, and hip but unspecific terms such as ‘ninja’ and ‘guru’. Be open about employment duration, working hours, remote working options, and if possible salary. Be direct about requirements you must adhere to when hiring. For example if you are not able to hire someone who doesn’t have a work permit or if a specific language competency must be met, communicate that. Don’t leave the applicants feeling tricked or that applying for this role was a waste of time.

10. Think human

The most important thing is to speak directly to the person reading the job description. Refer to the reader as ‘you’ instead of ‘the candidate’ when writing the text. Remember you are hiring a human being – the newest addition to your team, and not another machine for a factory. Help the applicant to relate to you, so they can envision doing the role they are applying for and how their life would be after.

Job description for startup

Are you looking to hire the perfect fit for your company?

We can help you to create a great job description and find the top Nordic talent for the job. Book a quick intro call with Jarkko, our Head of Startups, to find out more.

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