15 Science-backed Tips for Writing Job Descriptions
For many recruiters, hiring managers, or bootstrapping startups, hiring a new person is an incredibly important task. And while that statement may come as no surprise to those who have ventured to do it, the process itself can still have your reeling.
Before you even think about the interview process or salary negotiation, you have to worry about things like finding a job posting site that fits within your budget —but will still get applicants to see it. You also need to write a description that correctly explains the job so you get quality applicants but also makes it sound appealing so that you actually get people to apply.
The layout and content in a job description has been put under the microscope by background screening company EBI. After scouring the web for reports and tests, they put together an infographic that outlines the science of a perfect job description. Here are the main takeaways that you can use to immediately make a difference in your job postings.
Job title length: According to studies, the ideal length for a job title is 50-60 characters.
Be specific: In one test, using a generic term like “crew member” was outperformed by a more specific title of “cashier”. Furthermore, when comparing industry-specific terminology, like saying “CNA” versus writing out “Certified Nursing Assistant”, the industry-specific term got over 40% more applications.
Description length: Keep your main description 4,000-5000 characters long. This is equal to around 500-600 words.
Scannable: Eye-tracking tests show that readers skim the job description portion of the posting. So, when writing your description, avoid long, wordy paragraphs. Instead, use bullet points and shorter lines of text that include important keywords so that the eye picks up on these when scanning.
Company description: When ranking parts of a job posting that people read, the description ranks the longest and thus most important at 26 seconds. The company description is where the user spends the second most amount of time at 23 seconds. People want to know where they are applying and what your company is all about. In fact, 70% applicants in one survey from Glassdoor said that they will not accept a job with a company that has a bad reputation.
Salaries: Money is still an important motivator when applying for a job. With services like Glassdoor.com or Salary.com allowing job seekers full exposure to salary information, providing them with some numbers on your posting has proved important. Studies have shown that putting a salary range on your description can increase the number of applicants by 50%. Place this information near the top of the posting to increase your success even further.
Mobile: The world has gone mobile. The use of mobile devices in Millennials has infiltrated every industry from music to movies. Job searching is no different. 50% of 18-29 year olds use their smartphone to job search. So, what can you do to optimize your posting? The same way that you can optimize your posting to make it scannable also applies to mobile screens. Remember, you are working with half the length of a desktop or laptop screen on mobile, so even sentences that seem short on a wide desktop screen can be 5-10 lines long depending on font sizes. When in doubt, test it yourself.
Completion time: Depending on the service or job posting, some job seekers are required to apply using time-consuming online applications. Keep this in mind when writing your descriptions and setting up your posting. When an applicant has to take more than 15 minutes to complete the full process, the submission rate drops off 365%. Like the mobile section above, you should always test the process yourself.