How do you form your first impression of a candidate? By reading their well-written cover letter and impressive CV. Similarly, you need to make a great first impression on potential candidates if you want to attract the best software engineering talent in the world. So, how do you make that great first impression on potential candidates? The way potential candidates will form a good first impression of you is by reading your well-written impressive job post and clear job description. Writing a good job post will give you a competitive edge over other businesses looking at sourcing top talent around the world.
In 2016 alone, there were 4.4 million software engineers in the US alone. What this means is that your job post is in fierce competition with hundreds of other companies ones seeking excellent software engineering talent. On top of that, the average applicant gives your post just 49 seconds to form an impression. So, you only have 49 seconds to write a job post that conveys that positive first impression.
On top of the need to be perpetually managing your employer brand, which becomes even more critical in 2020, job postings are the best tools at your disposal to find talent that may otherwise get missed by recruiters and make an excellent impression. A detailed job description is a crucial part of writing your job post and will help you attract the right candidates and the top talent you're going after.
A job post is essentially an advertisement for your job vacancy. You may choose to place this advertisement on your website, on your social media networks, or job boards. Some employers prefer to hire agencies to create and advertise their job vacancies. A job description lays out the main scope of a job vacancy. It is within your job post. It should include the work you will expect the hire to take on, expectations, and accountabilities for that role and the reasons a candidate would want to apply, including its mission and employee benefits.
The job description will also include the official job title and compensation. Yes, you should disclose compensation or, at the very least, provide a salary range. Revealing your number shows that you are serious about hiring, respective of the candidates' time, and keenly aware of the talent market rates. (We'll discuss more on this later) When writing your job post, you want to limit it to a single page statement. You can include a link to a promotional web page for more information if you have the resources to create one. (Bonus points to you if you do). Remember, your goal is to entice top talent to apply, and you need to draft an expertly written job post with a clear overview of the role to get their attention.
It's best to discuss the role with your teams and key stakeholders. Considering who you're looking for with the team is crucial to avoid miscommunicating who you need in your job post. Your company's value proposition and the role you are hiring for must align with the job post's wording. Imagine the candidate you shortlist meets different team members who all have different ideas on what that candidate's role will be. This discrepancy will inevitably confuse the interviewee and lead to an inferior candidate experience for your talent. That's something we wish to avoid at all costs. You must have clarity on the position's ideal candidate and salary range before posting your role on job boards.
Often, larger companies will delegate the process of writing the job description to their outsourced recruiter. That doesn't work to your benefit, you know more about your company, the role, and who your top talent is, better than any recruiter. The most impactful way to craft the job post and job description is to have your hiring manager work with the recruiter to make sure there's alignment across the board.
A frequent mistake companies make is thinking they don’t need to sell a new role to remote talents as much as traditional local hires. The logic is “they work remotely; they can’t experience our company culture, we should hire them based on their cost and their skills. This idea doesn’t hold up in the job market, where remote jobs are increasing, and the quality of tools for managing remote teams is improving. Company culture matters, to everyone, remote and on-site. In the post-pandemic job market, it will matter even more. For any applicant, choosing to join a new company comes with a set of challenging questions that must have an appealing answer.
Be prepared to address these concerns in your company description. But that’s for another article. Every job description you write will have its own set of details and specifications, but there are fundamental principles that you can implement to attract top technical talent to apply. A job description that informs and compels the reader to action will have most of these elements.
Depending on your company's priorities, you may structure your job post elements in different ways. For example, you can describe one or another of these parts in more detail, or put some of them together. The way you structure your job post, and description can tell a lot about your company's goals and even hiring philosophy. All the small details in your job post, such as whether you focus on a long list of requirements first or describe an ideal candidate upfront, help your potential hirees visualize what your company is all about. Once you've described the skills, qualifications, and experience needed for a candidate to be successful in this job, then listing these in the context of a job description will be as easy as falling off a log.
Take time to think about the role set up. What will the candidate be doing daily, who will they report to? Who will onboard them? How much work will happen collaboratively and across departments? Great developers are very logical and expect clarity from a potential employer, especially when it comes to their responsibilities. If your job description felt less than thought out and sloppy, it will fail to attract the level of premium talent you're going after. Don't rush.
Of course, we are all tempted to clump together distinct roles into one when we can only afford to hire one top expert. For instance, when you need a front end designer and a developer, but your budget only allows for one hire, you try looking for a candidate that can "do it all." "We're looking for a front end web developer who can also manage our Instagram and design our ebook cover pages in Figma." Avoid doing this at all costs, and top talent won't fall for it.
The great thing about globalization and geographic arbitrage is you can afford to hire top talent experts at much lower than local rates, so you don't need to compromise on quality to fill your roles. Working with freelancers also allows you the flexibility of hiring talent hourly.
There's just no reason to attempt hiring a unicorn who can do it all because the chances of ending up with someone who delivers on the promise is low. You are most likely to end up with a mediocre candidate in some areas and will need someone to step in to fix their work anyways, costing you double the time and money and rendering your "hybrid budget saving plan" a failure and a sunk cost.
An easy way to avoid making unconscious biases when remote hiring is to rework on the wording of the job description. According to Francesca Gino, professor at Harvard Business School, masculine words such as "competitive" and "determined" can deter women from applying to the position as opposed to using words such as "collaborative" and "cooperative."Recruiters can avoid gendered wording by striving to use more gender-neutral language or using the right balance of masculine and feminine adjectives.
When writing your job post, remember, "less is more." Most candidates only spend 14 seconds to read your job post and decide whether it is worth applying to, so make it work! After analyzing over 4.5 million job posts on Linkedin, the latter identified that shorter job posts of about 300 words or less had significantly higher-than-average apply rates per view. Because of this, it's essential to make sure that you are writing in a way that your post is engaging and easily scannable. You should also strive to put all the essential information that you want your candidate to grasp at the top, for example, a company's mission, a candidate's skills, required expertise, or anything else that you find applicable.
Here's an example of a job post that has been poorly written:
Can you spot the mistakes in the job post above? There are a few.
Instead, here's what a good job post looks like:
We're a bustling practice in Santa Barbara, California, and we're looking for a motivated virtual front desk associate to join our team. We value people who go the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction and always think of ways to do things better.
This job posting example lets the candidate know that the company is busy and needs to work together with team members to get things done. The candidate can tell if the salary is right for them right away. They also get a good idea of what a day-in-the-life looks like before finding out it isn't right for them.
We want to end this post on a lighter note, and just remind you to avoid using some of the following phrases that get misread due to overuse.
Your ultimate goal is to strike a balance between making a job description too broad or too narrow. Job descriptions with a lengthy list of requirements will not appeal to top candidates.
If you want to encourage your potential candidates to apply for the job opening, you should make sure to build your job description based on the challenges and impact of the work, in other words, the outcomes, rather than standardized checklists of requirements.
Experience requirements seem to be straightforward when screening candidates' job applications as you can easily compare a candidate's profile to the experience required. On the other hand, candidates can skim the section about the needed experience and make a positive or negative decision about applying for the job. It's a universal truth that experience doesn't always translate to ability or seniority; that's why it's better to include more specific examples about the kind of experience you expect your employee to have.
Let's say, if you are looking for someone with at least five years of C++ experience, you might use the approach of assessing candidates' C++ skills only, and you will likely struggle to find the right candidate. If you focus on the outcomes of the role instead, the chances are higher that you will succeed in the attempt to find your ideal candidate. For example, the description "successfully develop and scale microservices handling 10M requests per day" will filter out the candidates that are not able to complete this type of work, while leaving it open for candidates who might surprise you with their performance.
There are scientific findings that prove that some candidates may take job requirements more seriously than others. The research indicates that women are less likely to apply for a job if they feel they don't tick off all the boxes listed in a job description. To avoid such scenarios, try to divide requirements into categories such as "minimum requirements" and "preferred." Here is an example for you to consider: for many roles, a degree in computer science may be preferred, but you don't want to turn away qualified candidates without a degree by listing it as a requirement. Thus, we suggest that you don't include a degree requirement at all. Keep in mind; you are looking for the candidate who'd be the best fit for your company, not the most exceptional job candidate ever.
You might have noticed that many companies tend to include such compensation details as benefits, time-off, and other perks like gym memberships, free lunches, and remote work. Still, they prefer not to include salary data. The reason why they do it is that they want to leave some room for negotiations. Another reason is that salary transparency may reveal inequity in the payment policy for existing employees. Many recruiters and HR experts support the idea of including salary information in a job description. They believe it decreases screening times and leads to higher retention rates and more productive and happy employees.
Regarding candidates, they want to know their salary ahead of time to ensure that the wage satisfies their expectations, as they don't want to waste their time applying for the wrong job. In the candidate-friendly hiring process, it's worth including the expected salary, a salary range, the lower band, or the upper band. Out of all these choices, a salary range is often the most appropriate option that HR specialists recommend. According to the Dice report, including salary information in a job description can be positive for companies, as the findings have shown that "ads featuring a salary range experienced a 75% increase in click-through rates".
For big companies: Large-scale companies are afraid that including high salaries in their job openings will bring in a lot of unqualified applications. As Dice reported, the company Proforma claimed to see an increase in the number of unqualified applicants when they started disclosing figures. However, it increased the efficiency of the hiring process, as the closing rate has jumped from 40% to 84%.
For startups: If you are hesitant about including a salary range because you are not able to offer competitive compensation, we still don't recommend you to avoid putting salary data in your job description. Sooner or later, candidates will find out, and it's not good to hide the information from them for too long, which may cause them to withdraw their candidacy. The best solution would be to include the salary or band and try to shift the focus to other parts of your job description. For example, if you've got a great mission, explain why it matters so much and what a significant impact you are having on others and your team, emphasizing that you offer a comprehensive benefits package. Your openness and transparency may attract driven candidates that are genuinely interested in working for your startup.
Are you tired of reviewing countless applications? You're not getting your job post in front of the right talent. Put your job post on our remote job board for hundreds of top talent to see. There are plenty of remote job boards out there, but we've gone ahead and gathered The Big List of Places To Post Jobs Globally. It includes job boards by country as well as global job boards. Our Job Board is included in this list. If you have an important role to fill this is where you can post your job post and watch the (qualified) applicants pour in.
We hope you enjoyed our take on what goes into the perfect job post. Thank you for reading.
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