Job Descriptions: 10 Ways to Attract More Applicants

Are you preventing rockstars from applying for open positions due to your outdated job descriptions? Considering everyone is looking for more candidates in the current market, here’s everything you should know to make your job descriptions help you attract more applicants.

1. Job descriptions need to be consistent from department to department.

job descriptions

If one hiring manager posts a job description that looks and feels completely different than another position, it gives the wrong impression about the company. Designate a point person to take the lead and develop consistency within each job description for the following:

  • Position summary
  • Font/format of job descriptions, with the same order for each section
  • Similar number of listed duties & responsibilities
  • Similar number of listed qualifications & skills
  • Benefits offered
  • Company summary

Overall, the length, look and feel of each job description should be consistent from position to position, even when jobs are from different departments.

2. Market your position summary.

What’s better about the office manager position at your company versus the competitor’s down the road? Why would somebody choose to apply for your position? This is your opportunity to explain how the job impacts your company and the potential contribution an applicant could have in this job. Here’s your chance to sell it!

3. Duties and responsibilities shouldn’t feel overwhelming.

There’s a delicate balance between giving an accurate feel for the job and overwhelming the candidate. Most of the details will be learned on the job, so try to focus on the key functions in 5-7 bullets.

4. Separate education/experience from qualifications.

To make things easier for scanning, be sure your education/experience are a section of their own instead of lumped together with other qualifications. This is also a good time to re-evaluate the required amount of education/experience you’ve listed. For example:

  • Do they really need 5 years of experience, or could you say 3-5 years’ experience is preferred?
  • Is a bachelor’s degree really required, or would an associate’s degree or certificate from a trade school suffice? If experience is a good alternative to education, include it here.

5. Determine whether a college degree is necessary.

Speaking of college degrees… If you’re requiring an individual to have a bachelor’s degree because you need strong work ethic and dependability, you may be preventing rockstars from applying that have acquired those skills outside of college. Paint a picture of what’s needed in the job description, then learn about the candidate through interviews and reference checks to ensure they have the right soft skills, talent, and cultural fit. Not every position needs a college degree!

6. Don’t use terms beyond the education requirements.

If your open position only requires a high school diploma (or the equivalent) and your job description uses words like “ad hoc,” you may be deterring candidates because they don’t understand what you’re saying. In an employees’ market, candidates can simply disregard your job and look for something easier to comprehend. Simplify!

7. Limit the number of required qualifications and skills.

Listing too many requirements may prevent talented candidates from applying for the job. When evaluating qualifications, consider which requirements are absolutely needed, which are preferred, and which could be learned on the job.

8. Be careful specifying all the proficient software skills they “need.”

There are universal software programs we should all know (e.g., Microsoft Office), and there are highly specific software programs. If your company’s software is unique to your business, don’t mention it in the job description – especially if it’s something most other employees have learned while on the job.

9. Use professional language.

Even though you want your company to feel trendy, it’s best to avoid cliches or popular jargon. Be particularly wary of using pop terms that only young workers in their 20s would understand. This could create a disparate impact where older works would be discouraged from applying, triggering age-based discrimination protected by the EEOC.

10. Ensure your ATS is consistent with your job descriptions.

At the end of the day, if you make changes to the verbiage in your job description, be sure your Applicant Tracking System (ATS) isn’t filtering out candidates based on those antiquated requirements. For example, if you’ve discovered that a bachelor’s degree isn’t necessary, be sure your ATS isn’t filtering out candidates without a bachelor’s degree.

Over time, a position’s requirements and qualifications are bound to change. Remember to update and simplify your job descriptions to open the door for more applicants. For more ideas on how to improve your job descriptions, please contact your certified HR Rep. Not a current Stratus.hr client? Complete the form below and our team will contact you shortly.







    Laura Lancaster, PHR, SHRM-CP

    Author Laura Lancaster, PHR, SHRM-CP

    Along with being a Master of Human Resources, Laura is a master of communicating and provides her clients with world-class customer service. She can really cut some rug on the country swing dance floor and enjoys musical theater in between motorcycle rides.

    More posts by Laura Lancaster, PHR, SHRM-CP