In “Developing Your Online Recruiting Brand”, I covered how to set up an online presence that can attract talent. Now let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of hiring someone, starting from square one — writing the job description. A job description is often the very first opportunity you have to make a good impression on a candidate. It needs to be accurate and sell not only your open positions, but also your company as a place to work. Here is a step-by-step guide to putting together a killer job description to attract the right candidates:
Accurate title. First and foremost, make sure the title at the top of the job description accurately reflects the role so you attract the right people. That means being specific about seniority level and technology stack if applicable (i.e. Senior Backend Engineer instead of Engineer). Sidenote: Some companies like to use creative titles like “Ninja” or “Hacker”, but those titles risk being too vague or off-putting.
Exciting opening paragraph. You have to have an exciting opening paragraph to draw people in. Are you disrupting a market or creating a new market? Can you point out success with revenue and/or customers that would excite a candidate? Who are your VCs? Paint a picture of your ambitious mission, progress to date, and the big opportunity waiting for the right person.
Here are a few good examples from Kloud.io and Socratic (Unusual-backed companies):
“Work for a Company That Makes Work Easier for Everyone — Kloudio helps democratize data access for organizations. We believe that when teams have the power to make data-driven decisions, productivity and innovation soars. We’ve definitely noticed this first-hand! Although we work with large enterprises like Netflix and Rakuten, we’re still an early stage startup. This means that our team members get to define what their job titles mean in the context of a rapidly growing organization with huge potential.”
“Socratic is building a Jira-killer. We think even the "modern" approaches to task management are worn out. We're a seed stage startup re-thinking work from the ground up. By unifying task management with performance intelligence, we show teams how well they work and why, with real-time data to guide daily decisions to the best result. Socratic is led by two seasoned founders with deep startup experience, including successful exits. With this role, you'll not only help build a product—you'll help build a company.”
What you’re looking for: Describe what type of employee you are looking for and give insight into what this role will be doing. What feature are they building out? Who will they be partnering with (external or internal)? What personality traits do you want in the ideal candidate?
Requirements: This is where you want to be very specific. Call out specific skills that are "must-haves." You do not want to get too specific or you will have candidates not apply at all or self select out of the opportunity. A good rule of thumb is having 1-3 non-negotiable must-have skills, which you can use to easily qualify candidates during the review process. The rest of the requirements can be listed below. Limit to seven total requirements.
“Nice to Have” Section: Outline a few skills that are not required, but would be nice to have in an ideal candidate. For example, If you are looking for a UI Engineer, it's not required to have UX design skills, but it would be nice. Your future hire might only have four of the seven requirements, but the requirements combined with some nice to have might make the perfect candidate
Roles and Responsibilities: Briefly describe what the role’s main responsibilities would be. This should include the “big picture” role the person would play in the company strategy, as well as an idea of the day-to-day work. Here is an example from Coscreen (An Unusual-backed company):
Perks and benefits. List out all the perks that make your company a great place to work. Don't forget to include anything that you think is cool and fun. Examples might include:
Ability to work remotely
Full Medical and Dental Benefits for you and your family (100% covered)
Generous PTO, sick leave, and parental leave
Learning & Development: $2,000 per year stipend for personal career development
Lunch/Travel Expenses Reimbursement
Brand new laptop setup and technical equipment
Apply now. Lastly, don’t forget to include an easy way to get in touch with a recruiter or hiring manager if there are any questions and set up a button to apply immediately. Cross-posting the job description on relevant platforms like LinkedIn and AngelList can help you reach more candidates.
The goal of a job description is to get the right people through the door and onto your team. That means being clear about what you’re seeking in a candidate and what the nature of the role entails — all while demonstrating why your company is a great place to work and why the reader should get on board.