How to Write Job Postings that Attract the Right Employees

A well-written job description can save you time, money and a lot of headaches.
A well worded job description can help you build a winning team. (Photo: 24Novembers/Shutterstock)

As a small business owner, you may not need a ton of employees at your disposal, but if you want your enterprise to run like clockwork, you do need to hire the right people for your staff.

Unfortunately, crafting job descriptions that accurately describe your ideal employee isn’t always an easy task. A poorly written job posting can not only waste your time by attracting poorly qualified applicants, it can also lead to additional costs and negatively impact your brand.

To write a job posting that attracts the perfect candidate for your small business team, follow this advice from industry experts.

Accurately describe your company culture

When posting a job opening, you want to make sure applicants get a clear picture of what your business does and the kind of workplace culture you’ve worked hard to cultivate. Including a paragraph or two about your business will let applicants know what is expected of them — as well as what they can expect when working for your company.

Jana Tulloch

“Poorly written postings can lead not only to attracting the wrong candidates but also to misaligned expectations.” — Jana Tulloch, owner of Tulloch Consulting. (Photo: Jana Tulloch)

“Poorly written postings can lead not only to attracting the wrong candidates but also to misaligned expectations,” explained Jana Tulloch, owner of HR advisory firm Tulloch Consulting. “If you live your values every day at work, and expect new hires to do so as well, make sure you capture that in the posting.”

Related: 7 Hiring Mistakes to Avoid

Clarify job responsibilities

You’ll also want to provide a brief summary of the position itself, followed by an outline of daily and weekly responsibilities and any other special skills or certifications required for the job, said Tulloch.

“Is there an expectation of travel, or that you volunteer regularly, or that you’re on call after hours? Outside of the regular general duties, make sure you capture things that may be unique to your organization, and how you differentiate yourself from others in the industry,” she said.

In addition to listing preferred skills for the role, also be sure to clarify any specific work requirements that would have a significant impact on hiring, advised Laura Handrick, career analyst for Fit Small Business.

“A truly bad job description can lead you down the path to a hiring discrimination lawsuit. For example, if you fail to list the physical requirements of a job, and then discriminate against a candidate who can’t do them, you may be unable to defend your hiring decision.”

Related: The Records You’ll Need if You Ever Get Sued

Focus on competencies over experience

When describing the kind of person you’re seeking to fill a role, you want your description to be specific enough to weed someone who would be a bad fit while remaining flexible enough to encourage applications. Tulloch said one way to do this is by focusing more on the skills required to perform a job, rather than stipulating specific experience requirements.

“Be creative, and write like you’re speaking to someone directly,” she said. “Using wording such as, ‘You’ll be a great fit for this role if you love to scour spreadsheets and are secretly excited when you find discrepancies that others have missed; Your attention to detail is beyond compare, and you are a stickler for accuracy.’ This focuses on the competencies needed for the role, and not the actual work experience.”

Related: Hiring Employees: When to Hire for Personality Over Skill

Outline the perks

If you’re using a job description to attract new applicants, it’s important to let them know what they will get in return for the working relationship — specifically financial benefits and other perks.

“To include or not to include compensation in your posting is an age-old debate,” explained Tulloch. “If there is little leeway in the pay, put it in — it will weed out those that are not in the ballpark and save you time later having to disqualify them based on their salary ask.”

Laura Handrick

“A truly bad job description can lead you down the path to a hiring discrimination lawsuit,” — Laura Handrick, career analyst for Fit Small Business (Photo: Laura Handrick)

But when compensation is more flexible, avoid committing to a set salary by providing a range and indicating what factors will play into your pay offer, said Handrick.

“It’s best to provide a salary range so that you don’t waste the time of candidates who expect higher pay. However, be careful that you also ensure pay equity by tying any salary variance to job-related requirements, such as years of experience, education level and certifications, for example,” she said.

Related: 6 Cool Employee Perks Your Small Business Can Afford

Keep it interesting

Finally, make sure your job posting is creative, engaging and holds the reader’s interest.

“Think of your job posting as your advertisement to buy. You are trying to entice someone to consider joining your company,” said Tulloch. “Your job posting should never be boring. Sell your company like it’s a product, so you can entice the best candidates to consider applying.”

If you still are unsure where to start, Handrick advised using a job description template to help you get the ball rolling. Investing a little extra time in the writing process will help you carefully craft a job description that will save you time (and money) in the long run. Unqualified candidates will screen themselves out, and you’ll be left applicants who have the proper knowledge, skills and/or abilities to get the job done.

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