Attracting the right talent starts with the job description

As an organization, we believe being in the company of great people is critical to the growth and success of our members, both as individuals and as startups. Hence our name, Company. We recognize the need to support our community to help them find the right people as they grow—individuals who will not only fill gaps for technical or sales needs, but who will also thoughtfully add new perspectives and innovative ideas to their organizations.

The research is everywhere on the importance of building a diverse team. Our favorite stat: the Center for Talent Innovation found that public companies invested in diversity were 158% more likely to understand their target customers and innovate effectively if someone on the team represented the user’s demographic.

We’re excited to kick off a three-part series with our friends at Fetcher.ai. Fetcher has been a part of our community for over four years, all the while helping companies identify and hire the best talent while offering tools to combat unconscious bias in the hiring process. For the first blog post in this series, Fetcher’s Brandice Sills-Payne shares the following advice for those who want to get hiring right, starting with the job description. 

Part One: Level up your job description

You’ve made the stress-inducing but exciting decision to grow your team. Now you’re tasked with writing a compelling and thorough job description (JD) that will have amazing, qualified, and diverse candidates flooding your inbox. Or at least this is the goal. Wordsmithing an awesome JD is the first step in developing a healthy recruiting funnel. A thoughtfully crafted job description reduces the noise to signal ratio and helps to fill your pipeline with the right talent. 

One crucial step before putting pen to paper is to imagine your ideal candidate. What are the nice to haves vs. the things you cannot live without? Are you thinking outside the typical recruiting box and welcoming candidates from a diverse set of backgrounds, schools, locations? To find the right talent should you think about opening the role up to remote work?  Here are some best practices to increase your chances of attracting the talent you want to talk to, and help you to avoid what can counteract your recruiting efforts.

🗣 Pro Tip: According to Textio, a 600-700 word count will yield the best results. 

So how can you make every word count? Be specific, be intentional, and make sure your company’s mission, values, and culture are clearly outlined. People want to work with companies they believe in, and alongside people who inspire them. Remove gendered language, be inclusive, and most importantly make sure you highlight the why your company is an awesome place to work. Do you allow employees to work from home one day a week, have a team building outing once a month, or provide volunteer opportunities with local orgs to share their knowledge? Highlighting how you go above and beyond to make your organization a great place to work is a great way to draw candidates in. Below are the three most important aspects to writing the perfect JD:

1. The Language You Use Matters 🤔

Did you know that JD’s that contain “Growth Mindset” language increases the number of female-identifying applicants? Words like “highly determined” will outperform language like “high performer.” 

It is also essential to stay away from any gendered language if you want to reach a broader pool of candidates. Use inclusive language and avoid using gender-specific pronouns altogether. There are also some gender charged words out there that can isolate specific demographics. 

“For instance, common phrases that exert a bias effect that don’t show up on any qualitative checklists include exhaustive, enforcement, and fearless (all masculine-tone) and transparent, catalyst, and in touch with (all feminine-tone).” – Textio

 

When crafting your job description for your ideal candidate, it’s also important to write for the role. The language needed to attract a developer will be very different than what will draw in a sales or marketing role. The most ideal place to insert role specific language is the description of your company and a quick blurb about what the ideal candidate will bring to the role. As an alternative to “you will” statements you could try using “you are” statements to describe what the ideal candidate loves or possesses as a character trait. For example, if you are looking to hire a designer: 

 

You can also highlight company perks that will appeal to the person applying for the position. For example, if you’re looking for technical talent, you may want to highlight gadget perks.

2. Be Inclusive  👩🏽‍💻👨🏻‍💻👨🏿‍💻👩🏼‍💻

Diversity is more than a buzzword and the diverse talent you want to hire will definitely pick up on any inauthentic language that rings hollow. This is an excellent opportunity to take a look at your company’s commitment to diversity and fostering an environment of inclusion and belonging. Go beyond being an equal opportunity employer and write an inclusion promise. If providing healthcare, be sure to add in benefits that provide services for LGBTQIA+ identifying people. Providing paid family leave? Don’t forget to include leave for every parent. There is a ton of room to get creative. Here’s a favorite of mine:

 

3. Qualifications: The Silent Killer 

Now you’ve made some thoughtful decisions about how to craft your job description. You’ve outlined some fantastic perks and thoughtfully described your company and its mission, values, and culture. Are you still not getting the resumes you want? 

The silent killer of most job posts is the required and bonus skills. This is the part of your JD that can discourage applicants. You want to remove as many barriers as possible to get people in the door but provide enough structure that you aren’t attracting unwanted applicants. This is the portion of the JD that can be debated the most but you can be thoughtful here without going too far down the rabbit hole. 

If your job post is producing too few or too many candidates, it is an indicator that the job requirements are too lax or too strict. Being thoughtful about the nice to haves vs. skills you cannot compromise on is crucial when categorizing qualifications. 

 

It is also important to consider degree requirements vs. years of experience. Is this a role that someone who has on the job experience would be a great fit for but would pass on applying if you’ve listed a specific degree requirement?  

When tasked with growing our teams, we have the potential to get in our own way. That first touchpoint with a potential candidate can set the stage for the overall candidate experience. Potential candidates are just as scrutinizing as employers and being thoughtful about each stage of the recruiting process will attract the right talent and help retain that talent.  

Next up in the series: How to source candidates to unearth non-obvious candidates and help diversify your team.

-Brandice Sills-Payne contributed to this piece on behalf of Fetcher.ai