Recruitment & Retention Articles

After you've spent resources onboarding your new employees, the true task becomes retaining them. Finding top talent and keeping them around is what makes most growing businesses competitive. New technology and the changing workforce is shifting the age-old processes HR managers have relied on.

Listen Up↑ -- Employee Recruiting: Making Your Job Descriptions Sing

18 January 2018
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I love music. Love good songs. And I love to sing. It's safe to say the songs I usually like best are those with a strong vocal lead.

Even if it's got a thumping bass line, wicked hot guitar licks, or sheer poetry for lyrics, if the vocals are marginal, it's hard for me to appreciate the beauty of the melody. The same holds true for other things in life. We're attracted to beauty that sings to us. And if you're a company looking to attract talent to the beauty of your organization, it's important for your employee recruiting efforts to feature job descriptions that truly sing to job seekers.

Employee recruiting intensifies

Employee recruiting is only getting tougher. With a U.S. jobs market that shows few signs of slowing down and unemployment under 5% for nearly 18 months now, the competition to fill new openings and replace departing workers is fierce. Firms are taking longer than ever to land qualified applicants. That hurts productivity, slows top-line growth, and cuts into the bottom-line as recruiting costs rise.

While more tools and platforms to reach job hunters exist today compared to, say, 20 years ago, grabbing their attention and interest often still comes down to a clear, well-written job description. Your company might be using the full arsenal of sites available these days -- Indeed, LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter -- allowing job seekers to search openings from their phone and get daily updates tailored to their search. But if potential recruits can't understand what the role is all about, what the key responsibilities are, or what the organization does, then chances are high they'll skip along to the next opportunity on the list.

Making job descriptions work for you

Indeed offers some excellent tips on how to write an effective job description. As with many things, balance is crucial to good employee recruiting. Say enough about your job opening to make it informative without writing so much that readers will be turned off. The site has found a startling 24% increase in application rates when descriptions are between 700 and 1,100 words. Eight-hundred to 1,000 words seems like a good target range to shoot for. Fewer words mean you're likely not saying enough about the role, not giving recruits an adequate sense as to whether they have the right skills or would be keen on performing the essential duties. More words mean you risk over-doing it. Too much detail can turn people off if they see a litany of job demands and qualifications, perhaps creating a false impression that the organization expects too much from or micro-manages its workers.

The best job descriptions are written in an open, honest voice, and give a glimpse of the company's corporate culture and speak to the qualities and values it seeks in new employees. Talk about the type of person who'll best fit not only the specific job requirements (attention to detail, process-oriented, nimble), but also your office dynamic (collaborative, creative, high-energy). While a few bullet items are fine for key duties and skills, make sure your job description isn't just one long laundry list of criteria for applicants to wade through. Use a narrative form to describe what the role entails, who it reports to, and why it's integral to the company's operations. Enliven your description with the compelling ways in which this person will contribute to growth, innovation and success. We all want something more from our next career move. Make sure the opportunity you're offering comes across as aspirational.

Employee recruiting in 2018 remains fiercely competitive. Organizations must work hard to ensure the openings they need to fill attract as many qualified applicants as possible. Don't hide the wonderful opportunities at your company behind job descriptions that are weak and out-of-tune. Let candidates hear you sing!

Joe Ailinger

Joe Ailinger Jr. has more than 20 years experience in employee and crisis communications, public relations, and brand-building for the financial services, defense technology, healthcare and nonprofit industries. Connect with him and learn more at

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