How to write an Engaging Job Description

We all know the importance of candidate attraction, and it starts with the job description.

  1. Job Descriptions have emotional triggers.

Think of LinkedIn posts, photos of cake and sport get better engagement than your latest business promotion or selling post. These posts tell the viewers more about you as a PERSON!

That’s the need to belong at work. It’s the primary logic behind social media (yes, there is some logic behind social media).

How to use the need to belong in your job descriptions

  • Your candidates will be joining a team, right? Then let’s talk about the team! This is why group photos, talking about group outings, or pointing out your company’s internal kudos system can be so effective in job descriptions (not just on a career page).
  • Go over your language for inclusiveness. Sentences like “You’ll be joining us to plant trees on Earth Day!” push a candidate’s emotional buttons, while the bullet point “Annual tree planting day” pushes them toward the back button.

Job Description #ProTip: Leverage some proof candidates can succeed with your company by noting specific successes or promotions of others who’ve held the job.

  • Leverage some social proof in your description. This can come from something like an Instagram feed that a candidate can browse (holiday party!), or — better yet — in the form of ‘proof’ they can succeed with your company, like noting the last person in the role was promoted.

2. The desire of esteem

Let’s go back to the social media example. While you were raking in the likes and hearts and smileys on your post, was there one person whose reaction you were waiting to see? Maybe an ex-boss, or ex-significant other whose singular “Wow” would have made your entire week.

That’s the power of esteem giving the added emotional boost to the power of belonging. When you’re trying to motivate candidates in your job description, consider how you can not only make them feel welcome and part of the team, but also how you can make them fell respected, liked, and — yes — needed by your company.

How to use the desire for esteem in your job descriptions

  • If the position reports to the C-Suite, expound on why. Here’s a pretty typical example, with an emotionally kicky redo: “As the Sales Manager, you’ll report earnings to the CMO” versus “Sales is an integral part of X Company Int’l, and as the leader for an exceptional team of sales professionals, your direct communication to the Chief Marketing Officer will be essential to business decisions.” Can you feel the difference?
  • Instead of beginning your job description with “Responsibilities” try “YOUR IMPACT.” Outline just how critical the candidate’s success will be to your organization.

Job Description #ProTip: Outline how critical the candidate’s success will be to your organization by beginning the description with “Your Impact,” instead of the banal “Your Responsibilities.”

  • Think about what a candidate could do to stand out to you for the open role. Now relay it to them, framing a job application as their opportunity to be seen as one in a million. Phrasing might look like this: “Show us that you’re the Growth Partner we need by defining a prioritization framework for us, or by including an example case from a previous position in your application. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!”

3. The desire to grow as a person

Raise your hand if you remember the movie As Good As It Gets (okay, I’ll settle for a slight head nod). At one point, over a cozy dinner, a romantically inclined yet ornery Jack Nicholson tells the hesitant Helen Hunt “You make me want to be a better man.” Ms. Hunt, overwhelmed, sighs “That’s maybe the best compliment of my entire life.”

Everyone wants to be a better person. They want to be inspired, they want to grow, they want to be inspired to grow. Every applicant wants to be reassured that they’re not a faceless cog in a giant machine. The need is right there at the very top of Maslow’s pyramid — it’s the pinnacle of self-actualization. When you meet this need for job candidates, everyone wins.

How to use the desire to grow as a person in your job descriptions

  • Include the candidates’ opportunities for on-the-job learning at your company in the description, not just as part of a career page. Tailor it to their position, so that the new HR Manager knows he could be attending HR Tech next fall, or leading the team’s implementation of a new applicant tracking system.
  • Tell the candidate what they can expect to accomplish in their first six months, and after their first year. Will they be in a position to hit unprecedented goals, to join a hiring team for another role, to onboard others? What tangible achievements will they be able to look forward to as a successful employee?

Job description #ProTip: Tell candidates what tangible achievements they’ll they be able to look forward to as a successful employee.

  • Ask for candidates who want to grow! This can come off cheesy, (“Do you want to work and learn at the same time?”) but it gets easier to nail if you include a kind of “About You” section in the description. “About You: A curious sort, you relish the opportunity to learn by doing in a fast-paced and demanding environment.”

Bottom line: Sprinkling emotional triggers into your job descriptions can give today’s picky candidates the extra motivation they need to hit apply. And when your company makes good on its emotional triggers over time? You’ll have yourselves a dedicated, motivated employee for life.

So go on — get trigger happy! This is the one time it’s completely appropriate.

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