I’m not a recruiter, I just play one on Twitter

10 ways to improve job descriptions


I’ve been doing my jobs list for a few years now. The weekly list of 10 jobs is achieved by skimming a lot of other job ads across a number of sources before more carefully reading a shortlist on a good week and selecting the final 10 (and desperately just trying to find 10 vacancies that aren’t travesties on bad weeks.)

Increasingly there are things that frustrate me — I know I am an unusual ‘user’ but I think some of these things are just universal. Here is a list of 10 things I wish people would think about →

  1. The actual job description is more important that your boilerplate organisation description — it is fine if you want to put it there but why is it before the role description?
  2. If you can’t use decent writers to draft your job descriptions please at least check things in Hemingway or something — it shouldn’t be a reading comprehension test to work out what you are looking for!
  3. Try and avoid ‘gender coded language’ and other red flags — in fact just test your descriptions using something like this from doteveryone.
  4. Try and take the opportunity to ‘sell’ the role. Why should someone apply? What is great about the role/team/mission? If you can’t do this in the official job description blog elsewhere and link them somehow, somewhere.
  5. Be clear about closing dates. I really dislike variations on ‘open until role filled’ ads. It totally lacks transparency — and when people aren’t great at updating their sites it is hard to tell whether roles are really open.
  6. Just use job titles people recognise. No need to reinvent the wheel. Also don’t take a well known title and then basically give it a new job description — that isn’t annoying at all.
  7. Each vacancy should have its own web page (not a blooming PDF) that can be linked to..
  8. ..in a perfect world these pages would remain available after the vacancy closes — clearly marked as such. It is really helpful to revisit ads after the fact.
  9. Not to get too nerdy but use the schema.org jobPosting standard if you possibly can. Google is the worlds homepage and their jobs search is going to eat all the big job boards eventually.
  10. Publish the bloody salaries. Come on. You know what you want to pay!

I’m interested to see if things like Honest.Work and Job Garden have any effect more widely but in public service land I’m honestly not holding my breath.