A Guide to the Essentials of Writing Job Descriptions for Startups
As a startup company, it is vital to embrace the latest best practices and technologies to drive your recruiting processes, and it starts with developing a compelling job description.
Developing Job Descriptions
A survey from the job-search firm Ladders found that jobseekers when tracked using technology that records where and for how long their eyes landed on a page, spent an average of 49.7 seconds before dismissing a position as a poor fit and 76.7 seconds with job ads that appeared to match their interests and skills. What does that mean? It would be best if you nailed the job description quickly and effectively.
First off, you must define who you want for a role. Your job description needs to describe the skills and competencies required to perform the job. So engineering competencies needed or sales experience desired (selling a big ticket to an enterprise) are essential.
Plus basics, like entry-level or experienced candidates. Also, consider the “type” of employee you need. Are they analytical problem-solvers, or will they need to execute what is given to them? Are they better in a team environment, or do you need a self-starter who can run independently?
Work with your hiring managers to develop a profile for this person, similar to defining a target customer segment for a product. Work those key points into your job description. Then your job description will help yield that ideal candidate.
Key Elements of a Job Description
When you’re crafting a good job description, keep in mind that there are some elements that candidates will look for. There are also some that could help convince an applicant to submit their resume.
Accurately describe the job function, focusing on its importance in the organization without exaggerating. The job title should be free of gender or age implications.
Choose a job title that reflects your industry’s standards and the organization’s culture. Don’t use jargon like “data ninja” or “rock star salesperson.” Using standard titles is also essential because it will help people searching for a role (like “data analyst”) surface your job post.
Roles and Responsibility
Outline the role and responsibilities. Define the skills and competencies needed to perform the function while exciting the candidate about the job opening. Don’t make it generic or boring. And don’t make it too long.
Prioritize what’s important and aim for a few clear, concise goals that give the candidate a picture of the role. The best job descriptions create an exact picture of the day-to-day responsibilities of the role. Include location, direct reports, and reporting hierarchy. Mention any hard skills required, preferred, and other specifics, like 25% travel required or remote location not an issue.
It will help eliminate non-qualified and possibly elicit responses. As noted above, here is where you can weave in requirements that drive the “type” of resources – i.e., analytical, self-starter, etc. For example, if you are hiring for your sales team, you may want to require specific sales strategy skills.
Spell out what you want from the new hire. An interesting LinkedIn article on a study they did with job description heatmapping showed that performance goals were focused on and appreciated by candidates.
When applicants know how they would be measured at your job, they can better judge whether they would be a good fit for the position or not.
Briefly tell them critical points about your company. Describe the company mission, the culture, the work environment, the strengths, and what makes it a great place to work.
Define where this role fits within the company and how the candidate will help the company meet its goals. Talk about company perks. Mention competitive pay, career growth, equity, benefits, transportation reimbursement, gym membership, free bagels, and work from home rules if it is an attractive component of the company.
You want the candidate to get excited about your startup. And you want to find candidates that will “fit in” with the right team.
However, you need to be brief. Don’t put too much into the company. The LinkedIn heatmapping article we mentioned above showed that the company info was the coldest part of the heatmap. Their take is that candidates will look elsewhere for company info. It is a balance between exciting candidates and not boring them that they lose interest in. The focus needs to be on the role.
What about salary? Is your company open to publicizing the position’s salary range and benefits, such as 401(k), vacation days, or medical and dental insurance?
Include those details within the job description. Candidates want to know what’s in it for them: what work they’ll do, how much they’ll make, and whether they can realistically get the job or not.
Again, in the LinkedIn heatmapping study, the salary range and benefits were far away from the most highlighted portions of the job description. And they found that, when asked, 61% of the study respondents said compensation was the most critical part of the description. Candidates need to know if it’s worth investing more time in your job opening. They might be spending seconds on your job description, so it is important to consider including salary info.
Formatting is also essential. Make it easy to consume. Think of it as a marketing email or landing page. Bullets, bolding, underlining. People scan. Use active, direct language.
And put some of your company’s personality into the tone, but don’t get too casual. Studies show that being too relaxed can be polarizing for candidates.
How long should your job description be? According to Indeed, jobs with descriptions between 700 and 2,000 words get on average 30% more applicants than jobs with reports either too short or too long.
For job posts on LinkedIn, faster is better. Shorter job posts (1-300 words) on LinkedIn had significantly higher-than-average application rates per view (the number of applications the job post got divided by the number of views). These short posts got candidates to apply 8.4% more than average, while medium job posts (301-600 words) performed 3.4% below average and long job posts (601+ words) did only 1% better than average.
A driver for that is that more than 50% of job views on LinkedIn are on mobile devices. But that is certainly the trend, so try to keep it on the shorter side.
Write a Good Job Description Today
Use the above information to guide your job description work for your startup. Remember, it’s crucial it performs as effectively as possible. Following best practices when it comes to developing job descriptions are critical. You must sell your job and company with maximum effort. Put the time in on the job description. Make it work hard for you.
If you’re still struggling to recruit talent for your startup, Recruiter.com is here to help. Whether you’re hiring for a startup developer or sales role for your sales teams, we have the experience needed to find your incredible talent.
We have many recruiting solutions that can help you in every step of the recruitment process, including helping you hone in the perfect job description. Contact us today so that we can find the right recruiting solution for you.
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