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How to Write Job Descriptions That Get the Right Applicants

In: Industry Insights

Updated: Tuesday, January 3, 2023 @ 6:20pm

How to Write Job Descriptions That Get the Right Applicants

You have an opening at your healthcare facility, so you post a job opening. And then you realize that most of the applications you receive aren’t a good fit for the position. The individual doesn’t have the required education, training, skills, or experience to perform the job’s duties.

Or maybe you don’t get nearly the responses that you hoped for, making you wonder if you’re even going to be able to fill the vacant position. At this point, it’s time to consider how writing an effective job description can help avoid both of these situations.

Tips for Writing an Effective Job Description

An effective job description serves two purposes. One is to provide a clear explanation of what the position entails, as well as outlining qualification requirements. The other is to attract applicants who would not only be a good fit for the open role but the company as a whole. How do you write a job description that provides each of these benefits?

Be Personable

While a job post should be professional, it should also be personal. Give the applicant a glimpse of your company’s personality to help them decide whether they might be a good fit for it and it for them.

One way to do this is to explain the company’s mission and the importance this mission holds. Then tell the applicant how they would fit into this mission within the open role. Another option is to talk about the team they’ll be working with, including any fun or interesting facts about this team that may pique their interest.

It helps to think about your job description like the opening paragraph of a book. Does your content compel the reader (applicant) to want to learn more or does it make them want to close the cover and move to the next title (job opening)? Aiming for the former can make an interested applicant want to take the next step.

Make Day-to-Day Responsibilities Clear

When searching for a healthcare job, it can be frustrating to read a job description yet still not understand what is expected from someone working in that position. Being vague, generic, or otherwise uninformative can be a turn-off to prospects, leaving them unenthused to the point where they decide to not apply. It can also make a candidate feel uncertain about whether they can perform the duties required.

Make the day-to-day responsibilities for the open role so clear that the applicant knows immediately whether they have the education, experience, or skills needed to perform those functions. Also, include whether the knowledge and/or use of any equipment is needed in that position.

Talk About Your Company’s Culture

Finding the right employee for the job isn’t just about locating someone who can perform the tasks required. It’s also about finding someone who is a good fit for the company and its culture.

The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) explains that culture includes a company’s values, its organizational structure, and the areas that it tends to place the most focus on, such as operations or research and development.1

Talking a bit about your culture can help candidates better understand what it might be like working for you as an employer. Give them a glimpse into the workplace environment. Will they feel a positive vibe the moment they walk in the door or instantly feel like a valued member of the team? Tell them this and get them excited to be a part of it.

List the Benefits (Both Traditional and Non-Traditional)

People look for different things when doing a job search. While some may focus more on salary and income potential, others want a position that offers more time off. Additional benefits that may be appealing to job applicants include health and life insurance coverage, 401k or other retirement savings options, disability coverage, childcare, and eldercare.

Providing a fairly complete list of the benefits your organization gives to its employees can increase the likelihood that the interested applicant will find at least one or two (or more) that are on their list of wants as well.

Don’t forget to include the less-traditional benefits too, such as always having free snacks available in the breakroom, monthly coffee socials, or being one block from the water which offers a great place to enjoy their lunch.

What to Avoid

Just as it is important to know what to put into a job description to help make it more effective, it’s also important to know what to leave out. Here are a few things that belong in the latter.

Discriminatory Language

Before posting your job description, read through it to look for any language that could be construed as discriminatory or, at a minimum, not be all-inclusive. One example is referring to the applicant as a specific gender. This can be off-putting to anyone who doesn’t fit into that category or mold.

Include an equal employment opportunity (EEO) disclaimer to better reflect that the position is open to anyone who meets the necessary qualifications. If you don’t currently have a disclaimer that you use, the SHRM provides a basic EEO disclaimer. Just input your company’s name and you’re ready to go.

Unrealistic Expectations

It may be tempting to include every job function that the position performs in the post, yet taking this approach can be overwhelming to an interested applicant. What you see as being comprehensive, they may as a never-ending list of job duties, potentially making it appear as if their workdays will be so full that they won’t be able to breathe.

To avoid this, make a list of the duties and responsibilities the candidate would be responsible for doing, then prioritize the list in order of importance. Next, cross out any expectations that are nice but not must-haves. What you end up with is a list of actions the applicant would be expected to perform without it being so long that they feel like they’d be expected to do too much.

Poor Job Description Structure

What would’ve happened if you clicked on this article to read it but, when it came up, it was just one long chunk of text with no paragraphs, no headings or subheadings, and no way to tell where one thought or idea ended and another began? You’d likely click away and decide to read something else.

The same is true when it comes to a job description. That’s why structure matters. Break up sections in the job post to make the information easier to read and digest. Use subheadings to separate the qualifications from the job duties or the benefits. Put lists of items in bulleted form so they are easier to scan.

Also, keep in mind that 58% of job seekers are doing their searches on their mobile phones.2 Pull up your job post on your phone to see how it looks. Does it provide a positive user experience? If not, it may need to be adjusted for people using mobile devices.

Not Optimizing Your Job Description for Search Engines

It doesn’t matter how great your job description is, it doesn’t do much good if it can’t be found. That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play.

Including certain terms or keywords in your job post makes it easier for search sites to connect your post with someone who is looking for that particular role. To optimize your post’s SEO, LinkedIn recommends:3

  • Staying away from gimmicky titles, only using titles that people are likely to search for when looking for that position
  • Including the position’s title and location in the post heading and again in the first few sentences
  • Not using keywords so much that your post looks gimmicky
  • Making the job post shareable, which also improves its rank with search engines

At Ultimate Medical Academy, it’s important to us to help our employer partners find the best employees for their open healthcare positions. These are just a few ways to create job descriptions that can appeal to – and draw

1 Society of Human Resource Management. Understanding and Developing Organizational Culture.

2 Glassdoor. The Rise of Mobile Devices in Job Search: Challenges and Opportunities for Employers.

3 LinkedIn Talent Blog. Writing Job Descriptions: 6 Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.

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