Job descriptions that draw the right applicants

July 30, 2014

Jennifer Carman

The importance of a well-written job description is often undervalued, but a great description is the first step toward a great employee. Potential applicants want to know if they are right for the job and the company, and the job description is the critical tool for the job seeker’s self evaluation.

Invest the extra time to be sure your company’s job descriptions are clear, complete and tailored for your audience, and you’ll see big returns. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

Be clear about requirements.
Many human resource professionals find themselves sifting through a mountain of applications yet finding few qualified applicants. Especially high response to a job posting can be a sign that the job description underrated the skills and experience required for the job. For entry-level jobs in particular, employers should evaluate if “no experience required” is the right description. If the reality is a successful candidate will have a little experience, or will be inexperienced with a certain set of skills, the job description should say so.

Be specific.
Don’t include words that are open to interpretation. Rather than “Some travel required,” go with “You will travel two consecutive days once each quarter.” Rather than “Some weekend work,” go with “Schedule includes one Saturday per month.”

Being upfront about the work will garner better candidates and possibly cut your turnover, too. For example, if the work environment is noisy or hot, include that information.

Be appealing.
Think about your audience and the job attributes that will engage them. If you’re filling a lower level position, talk about the upward mobility in the company and mentoring or training programs. If you’re hiring a salesperson, tell them how great your product is.

Include all stipulations.
No one wants to waste time. Not you. Not the job seeker. Listing all employment stipulations, from a drug screening to an attendance policy to an arbitration agreement, can save time finding the right employee.

Money matters.
Often, the pay for similar jobs varies from company to company, even within the same industry or geographic area. And while there are many aspects of a job that are as important as pay, job seekers know what they need to earn. Consider including the pay or pay range for any job that pays an hourly rate.

Jennifer Carman is Workforce Development Specialist II at Kentucky Career Center - Lincoln Trail in Elizabethtown. She can be reached at (270) 234-5832 or

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The Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail helps match job seekers with local employment and training opportunities. Our business solutions team offers employers of all sizes and industries personalized support to build a competitive workforce. We are an equal opportunity employer.
Program is funded with Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I funds through the Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet and the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board.
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