Words will always be subjective. However, there are certain guidelines that can be followed in order to avoid the common pitfalls that make job ads ineffective. The following are some simple steps you can take to ensure that you are not alienating great potential employees, and instead are creating job ad copy that is compelling and relevant.
Eliminate Unnecessary Requirements
A common mistake when writing job descriptions is to list a large number of requirements that you want from a potential employee. This can severely limit the number of applicants that you get.
Bad: We are seeking a Senior Software Engineer with 5 years experience to help build out our responsive web interfaces.
Good: Join an amazing team and forge the next generation of responsive web interfaces.
Challenges & Benefits Are Better Than Responsibilities
When writing a job description, emphasize the challenges that a person will have to overcome in the role, and the accomplishments that they can achieve, rather than listing the tasks they will have to perform.
Bad: Big Data engineer needed to support the enterprise Datawarehouse Team and develop custom BI solutions.
Good: Big data engineer needed to help us imagine and build the future of enterprise financial services.
Talk About Why This Position is Unique
Figure out what is unique about this opportunity and then focus on that. Not only will you get more attention, but you will also get more specific, niche attention, from individuals that will best be equipped to handle the distinct nature of the job.
Bad: Seeking a Senior Software Engineer to join our startup in Silicon Valley.
Good: Join one of the fastest growing mobile startups in Silicon Valley.
Talk About Your Corporate Culture
Talking about your corporate culture is a way to humanize your company, letting people know what the overall personality of the organization is, while also giving them an important insight into what it will be like to work there.
Bad: Graphic designer needed for a tech startup.
Good: Tech startup that cares about inclusion and diversity is seeking a graphic designer.
Use Positive Language & Avoid Negatives
Avoid limiting phrases such as “You can not,” “You will not,” “You should not,” as well as “You will” or “You must.” Instead, use empowering language. Tell people what they can do, let them know about their options, and emphasize the freedom they will have to handle their daily tasks.
Bad: You must have 3–5 years of web development experience as a requirement.
Good: Seeking an experienced web developer to join our team.
Simplicity is Key
The more succinct your job ad is, the more opportunity that you have to stand out in the minds of potential applicants. This is especially important when trying to catch the attention of casual job seekers.
Bad: We are looking for an awesome software developer with a lot of experience in front end development to join our company in the heart of midtown as we continue to grow.
Good: Growing firm in midtown seeks front-end software developer.
Speak Directly to Them, Not “The Candidate”
The more personal that you can make your job description the more it will resonate with the person reading it. Try to make it sound like you are speaking directly to them, each of them, not just to the audience as a whole. This can be done by employing the word “you” instead of more impersonal terms like “the candidate” or “the applicant.”
Bad: The candidate will be responsible for overseeing product development.
Good: You will be responsible for overseeing product development.
Use Gender-Neutral Wording
The use of he, or she, is a typical example of gendered wording. Those phrases should be replaced with you, they, or another term which does not reflect a particular identity. For a full list of best practices when trying to eliminate gendered wording from copy refer to this article. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender-neutral_language
Always Use Peer Review
Having more than one person review your job description and give you notes will allow you to take advantage of a broader perspective than you will be able to achieve on your own. It is particularly good to get a diverse audience to look at the wording, including people of different genders, backgrounds, and positions at the organization. Making use of the collective intelligence of people with different points of view will help you to craft the most accessible copy possible.
Originally published at www.womenwhocode.com.