Attracting talent

How to write a job description that attracts qualified, diverse talent

Job descriptions are competing for your candidate's attention. That's why they need to be clear, informative and engaging. Here's how to do it.

How to write a job description that attracts qualified, diverse talent
Listen to this article. Audio recording by
Lydia Kooistra

One of the most essential elements of your job post is the job description. Job descriptions need to be clear and informative while sparking the interest of talent. And not just any talent, but qualified, enthusiastic and ideally diverse talent. This isn't easy, especially since candidates on average spend less than 6 seconds on job posts. This means a generic list of bullet points just won't cut it. It takes a well-structured job description that's thoughtfully written. Here's how to go about it:

1. Let's start with the nitty gritty: format and style

Before you start writing your job description, it's important to think about its format and style. The go-to format is the long list of bullet points under the headers "Role description" and "Requirements". This format isn't optimal. Scannable? Yes. Riveting? No.

A study by Textio that analyzed over 300 million job descriptions provides a few concrete guidelines to follow to improve your amount of quality candidates:

  • Don't go overboard with bullet points: For a gender-balanced pipeline, only 1/3 of your job description should be made up of bullet points. People see bullet points as boxes to check. Research shows that women are less likely to apply to job posts if they can't check 100% of the boxes (requirements) listed, while men will apply when they only meet 60% of the listed requirements. The fewer bullet points you have the less likely good candidates will self-select out.
  • Keep it simple stupid: Simple, concise sentences between 13 to 17 words perform best. If candidates are spending less than 6 seconds looking at your job post, chances are they will not stick around to decipher long confusing sentences.
  • Balance out gender-coded language: Research shows that some words appeal more to one gender than the other which can result in a skewed pool of applicants. Make sure your job description is neutral by running your text through a tool like this one. You could even consider skewing it more towards women for roles in which women are underrepresented.
  • Keep it short: Job descriptions with 600-700 words perform best. This is relatively short and should, therefore, help you to get to the point and not go too deep. It is after all an extremely early stage of the hiring process where the candidate merely needs to decide if they're interested.
  • Talk to your candidate and not about them: Use "you", "we" and "our" pronouns throughout your description. For example instead of using sentences like "The ideal candidate will have knowledge of the industry" make it more personal, "You know all about our industry."
The dos and don'ts of formatting your job descriptions

⚾️ To help you hit the ground running check out these job description templates that follow all of the guidelines listed above. Job description templates save you the time and hassle of figuring out what needs to be included in your role description and requirements. We've done that research for you. Just customize, add company-specific information (see next steps for details) and you're ready to publish!

2. The anatomy of your job description: What elements to include

So what should your job description actually say? We've identified three elements to paint a complete picture of what it means to have this role at your company:

1. About the company

I hear you saying "Isn't my career page meant for company information?" Yes, this is true but we suggest also dedicating a portion of your job post to this. You have to imagine how candidates end up on your job post. They could be coming from an ad they saw on Facebook or maybe a friend DMed them the job post, which means the job post might be the first and last thing candidates see from your company.  If you jump right into the role description candidates who don't know your company will wonder "Wait, where would I be working?" So provide enough context for your job post to stand on its own. On your career page, you can go into more detail so that candidates who are interested can dive deeper and eventually answer the application questions.

In your job description, hit the high points! The company mission, the values, what the culture is like and most importantly why candidates should be excited to work at your company.

Example text about the company job description

2. About the job

In the "About the Job" section describe the role. You might be tempted to break out those trusted bullet points here. Instead, tell a story. A story about the impact the person in this role will have on the success of the company and its mission.

Focus less on tasks and more on outcomes of the work they'll do. What will they own and be able to take charge of? How will their work contribute to the goal of the company? Tell them who they'll be working with and what that'll be like. Also, touch upon the tools and tech they'll have access to in order to reach their goals at the company.

Example about the job, job description template

3. About you (About the candidate)

These are the requirements or "About the candidate". But since we're addressing the candidate directly it should be "About you". This is where we suggest you use bullet points, as it's important to be to the point about what you're looking for in a candidate. Make sure that these bullet points only make up 1/3 of your job post, though. So only include the must-haves and leave out nice-to-haves for a gender-balanced pipeline and the highest amount of quality applications.

Include a mix of hard skills, soft skills and required knowledge that your candidate needs. This is also where you can specify the number of years of experience preferred. Think twice before adding this, however. Ask yourself if experience really is important or if you're actually looking for a specific level of ability that isn't necessarily defined by experience. You could find yourself tapping into some great talent by stating "Ability to create high-quality designs" instead of asking for "5+ years experience as a designer".

⚾️ Homerun's job description templates include a pre-written "About the job" and "About you" for 50+ roles. We've done the research for you and crafted job descriptions that attract qualified and diverse talent. Use them to hit the ground running as you create your job post. Just customize with company-specific info and you're ready to publish! Try them out by starting a free trial of Homerun here.

job description template homerun

About the author
Lydia is Homerun’s Content Lead and is based in Amsterdam. She’s passionate about cats, biking, dismantling grind culture and the Oxford comma.

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