How to win applicants over with a job description

  • Recruitment
Alan Price - Peninsula's Chief Operations Officer and CEO of BrightHR

Alan Price, Chief Operations Officer

(Last updated )

The jobs market is the strongest it’s been in over ten years – thanks to the ‘Great Resignation’ phenomenon that has swept over the UK. With a surge in the number of people leaving their jobs this year, the competition to recruit top talent has never been fiercer.

You might be understaffed right now. So, to craft an irresistible job description that applicants love, follow these six tips…

1. Start with an engaging overview

Start the job description with a brief but engaging overview. Outline the main purpose of the job. Explain how it fits in with your company goals. Why is the job important? What are the key responsibilities?

Entice the applicant with creative and persuasive language that will make them want to work for you. Don’t be afraid to show your enthusiasm. Consider using phrases that target the qualities in an ideal candidate and what you think will appeal to them - ‘join a creative team dedicated to…’

And even if you’re not desperate to fill the position straight away, create a sense of urgency. Post the start dates and the contact details for either yourself or someone else.

Just remember not to overwhelm the applicant with information. Stick to the point and only include accurate and relevant information they need to know. You want to encourage them to apply but you don’t need to waffle. Short and specific is key.

2. Detail pay and benefits

What’s in it for the applicant? Be clear about the benefits of working for you. Your benefits might include:

  • bonus schemes
  • flexible working – e.g. flexitime or hybrid working
  • progression opportunities
  • staff retention schemes

Think about what would sell a job to you.

According to a survey, 1 in 3 workers consider flexible working to be the key reason for staying in their current job. The main reason they look elsewhere is down to pay and lack of bonus schemes. So, if you don’t already offer any of these benefits, consider adding some. (Remember if you do this, you’ll need to also update your staff contracts.)

You should also outline your salary expectations. Applicants will want to know this information upfront. You might want to list a specific figure. Or, you might choose to include a general salary range if it’s dependent on the applicant’s experience. If there’s anything special about the salary, perhaps it’s highly competitive, make sure to mention that too.

Need to set up flexible working?

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3. Use inclusive language

Your choice of wording can have a big impact on how someone perceives the job. You might be excluding great candidates just by using gendered pronouns or complicated phrases.

To avoid excluding applicants from your talent pool, here are some tips:

  • Avoid gendered titles like ‘barman’ or ‘handyman’ – instead say ‘bartender’ or ‘handyperson’.
  • Avoid gendered pronouns like ‘he/she’ or ‘his/her’ – consider using the second person pronoun ‘you’ or the neutral ‘they/them’.
  • Avoid complex phrases and metaphors – be aware that applicants who have autism or dyslexia, or those who don’t speak English as a first language, might have more difficulty reading and understanding. So, be clear and straight to the point.
  • Be mindful of exclusionary language – if you specify that your ideal worker will need to be ‘strong’, ‘energetic’, ‘youthful’ or that they must be able to ‘stand for long periods of time’ – you may be excluding older candidates or those with disabilities.
  • Limit your requirements – try to keep your job requirements to the essentials. A lengthy list of ‘must-haves’ is likely to intimidate and deter a lot of candidates, who might feel they can’t apply unless they meet all the criteria.
  • Advertise yourself as an equal opportunities employer – even just a statement at the end of the job description that shows your commitment to equality and diversity can go a long way.

4. Outline disability support options

To make your application process as inclusive as possible, you should include support options for workers with disabilities. You might need to make adjustments to help workers carry out the job role.

Applicants with disabilities may ask for reasonable adjustments during the recruitment process. So, it’s a good idea to highlight your available support options in advance, such as:

  • flexible working – may include working from home, compressed or flexible hours
  • assistance from a reader or interpreter
  • changes to work environment – may include lowering desks, adding ramps, making entrances more accessible
  • assistive technology – like screen readers, voice recognition software, adapted chairs, etc.

You should also invite applicants to tell you if they need adjustments or support.

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5. Show personality and culture

You might be offering all the right things in terms of salary and staff perks. But applicants will really want to know that the company they work for is a good fit for them.

Maybe you have an on-site gym, or you regularly go on staff holidays. Talk about what the team is like. Are you a small, close-knit team? What would a typical day in the workplace be like? Give the applicant a sense of your company culture.

The applicant will be considering whether they would enjoy working for you. So, let your personality shine.

Need to introduce a benefit scheme?

Recruiting for a job is tough – which is why your Peninsula experts will make sure you’re in the best position to secure your ideal candidate.

Whether you want to introduce flexible working, bonus schemes, or adjust your risk assessment, your HR and health & safety experts will craft legally-binding policies on your behalf.

And if you’re not yet a Peninsula client, get your free quote here to take full advantage of contracts, documents and policy support, as well as 24-hour HR and health & safety advice.

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