Job descriptions that convert: 5 tips from a copywriter
So you’re recruiting for a new role and it’s time to write the job description. I’m not a writer, you might say, it just needs to be a list of expected tasks or output, you insist. While this is the minimum expectation for a job description, if you really want to attract top talent and create job descriptions that convert the best candidates, it’s time to ramp things up a notch.
Who am I to give this advice? My name is Alice, I’m the Content Manager here at Kallidus. I’ve worked in copywriting and content marketing for 5 years and spent 6 years at uni studying creative writing and linguistics. For this guide, I’ve tied together marketing experience, storytelling, and linguistics know-how with recruitment best practices to help you create engaging and irresistible job descriptions for today’s candidate-driven market.
Enough about me, let’s get to the information you really need.
5 copywriting tips for engaging job descriptions
1. First impressions: think about your layout
You know what they say about first impressions. Beyond the job title itself, the first impression a candidate gets of your latest vacancy is how the words are laid out on the page. As your job description will be read on a screen, be it mobile, tablet, desktop, or laptop, how the average person reads from a screen has to be considered.
One of the most common types of on-page scanning is known as the F Pattern. People automatically read what they can see on a screen in an F pattern before they decide to read in detail. Perhaps you did that with this guide, reading the first sentence or two, skimming down the headings, and then reading part of a line half way down. Your job descriptions need to be laid out in a way that allow people to get the information they need while scanning in the F shape.
If you want more information on the F Pattern, here is a great article from UX Planet.
2. On second read: clarity is key
Now you’ve thought about how to lay out your text, it’s important to decide what the vital bits of information are within your job description. Typically, these consist of:
- A short intro about your organisation
- Responsibilities and expected tasks
- Required experience
- Benefits/work perks
- Salary offering
Once you have determined exactly what needs to be in your job description, you need to consider how to make the most of the limited attention you have. Utilising bullet point lists and clear headings are a great way to ensure people can find the information they need quickly.
On top of organising your words to allow for F Pattern scanning, you should also make sure your word choice is unambiguous and clear, so a candidate only has to read the job description once to decide if it is right for them.
For more advice on formatting your job descriptions, take a look at Section 1 of our Guide to a Killer Recruitment Marketing Strategy.
3. It’s not about you: focus on the candidate
While you want your candidate to be as invested in your workplace as you are, the reality is that they are likely to be looking for a job that fits their needs. Of course, it is important to sell the benefits of working for your organisation, but there’s no need to spend half of your job description space on it.
You want what’s called an elevator pitch: a 50 – 100 word summary of what your organisation offers, what the culture is like, and where it is heading. It doesn’t need to be any more detailed than that. Your candidate is looking for a job, not a company, so try to make sure at least ¾ of your wordcount focuses on the candidate, the job, and your expectations.
4. Introduce yourself: tone of voice
Tone of voice in its simplest form is how you speak. Using a tone of voice in your job description that is reflective of your organisation will help you trim down the fact-based introduction and help to radiate your vision through your words. If you have a tone of voice as part of the branding in your organisation, great! Use this as your point of reference for how to convey who you are as a company and what you believe in.
If not, no worries. Simply consider how you wish to be seen by others and adapt they words you use to that. Try starting by asking yourself this question:
If my organisation was a person, how would I describe them in three words?
You want to create a short list of adjectives. For example, would this person be approachable? Confident? Perhaps ambitious? These will inform the word choices you make which will help to communicate more about your organisation than a simple list of products or services.
5. Make it conversational: direct address
This one is straight from the copywriting playbook. Directly addressing your audience/candidate through second person pronouns (you, your) helps them to feel included and enables them to picture themselves in the role more clearly. It’s used widely in the world of marketing (including in this post) as a way to connect more instantly with our readers.
It also creates a more relaxed, conversational tone. Even if your organisation is on the more corporate side and bound by strict compliance, referring to yourselves in first person (we, us) and your candidates in second person (you, your) emulates a dialogue. Job descriptions written entirely in third person can be off putting as they create the impression that you, as a company and as someone hiring, are not invested in the opportunity at hand. Emulating a conversation in this way makes your organisation feel more approachable and, naturally, more candidates will approach you.
For more tips on direct address and ways to simplify your copy in an engaging way, see this great article from Gather Content.
In summary: make it as easy as possible for your candidates to get the info they need, determine if it’s the right job for them, make them feel important, and engage them with a tone that is true to you. The market is so candidate-driven that you need to stand out to get yourselves the better candidates. There is a huge amount you can do to boost your recruitment marketing efforts, but all roads point to your job description – so make it a good one.
p.s. a couple of months back, I put pen to paper and created a whole recruitment marketing strategy guide (plus a couple of extra little resources). If you want to know more, click the button below.