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How to write a job description that attracts top IT talent

Sharon Florentine | June 18, 2014
Recruiting the best technology professionals starts with the job description. Here's how to make sure yours is hitting all the right areas.

Developing and posting the listing for an open job is a lot like writing and submitting an online dating profile — but for your company. Seriously. You're looking for the perfect fit — someone who'll bring just the right skills and knowledge and also fit seamlessly into your company culture, and who'll stick around for a long-term relationship. But presenting the most accurate information and articulating the best possible face of your company in the job description is much more difficult than it seems.

"Job descriptions are like a dating site profile — it's aiming at an employer's 'perfect' candidate. But the thing is, there's no such thing as a perfect candidate," says Rick Gillis, author, career expert and job search consultant.

"When you're writing a job description, think of it as your 'wish list' and understand that most candidates you get for that job should fit 70 percent to 80 percent of the requirements," Gillis says.

Be Specific About the Job Title

One of the biggest mistakes recruiters and hiring managers make is being too vague in their job descriptions, especially when naming the job title, says Rona Borre, president and CEO of IT recruiting and staffing firm Instant Technology.

"A lot of the time, we see very little effort put into the job title, and it becomes ambiguous," Borre says. "Developer. Project Manager. These roles, for example, can have a lot of different variations, so it's important to be more specific about what skills and knowledge are needed," she says. "Say 'Front-end and User Interface Developer' or 'Streaming Video Project Manager' instead." These are much more specific, Borre says, and will attract better, more appropriate candidates.

It's also crucial to be specific when outlining the necessary skills and knowledge, Borre says. Make sure you understand what is a necessity and what isn't, and be forthright about communicating that in the description.

"You have to outline the 'must-haves' first; the skills and knowledge that candidates should possess or they shouldn't even bother applying," she says. "Make sure you separate these in the description from what's 'nice to have,' and be very granular and specific when explaining the skills and knowledge," Borre says.

Don't Overstate the Obvious

Borre adds that it's not necessary to include statements like, "Looking for a hard worker" or a "team player," because those are fairly obvious and only waste space, she says. "Don't waste time or space with qualities and traits that should be a given," she says. "It's just assumed that you're not looking for a slacker, or for someone who isn't interested in working as a team," she says.

The space you save by not stating the obvious can be better used to outline why a candidate should come work for your company — one of the most important, and most often overlooked, aspects of an effective job description.

 

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