Top 10 tips for more successful job ads / descriptions

..based on my survey of 257 people, a handful of follow up conversations and a number of years curating my jobs newsletter. In no particular order these are 10 things that I think could improve 90% of jobs advertised in the Digital, Data and Technology space in public service (but based on less experience probably elsewhere as well!).

  1. Salary information is not optional 
    This is covered well on the showthepay website but for so many reasons avoiding sharing salary information or broad scales is unhelpful and unpopular with job seekers.
  2. Embrace remote working if you can and advertise your roles as such
    If not now then when? There is a real opportunity to tap into a wider talent pool via supporting remote long term rather than just during a pandemic.
  3. Use common job titles – and be true to them
    Don’t make up job titles. They aren’t cool. People aren’t searching for them, they don’t know what is expected and find them off-putting. Also don’t take a well known job title and then completely redesign the responsibilities and skills.
  4. Avoid generic job descriptions – be specific about the actual role
    Job families like the UK Government Digital, Data and Technology framework are useful – a common understanding and language for roles is useful but that should only be the start. Job seekers want to know what they will be doing in this specific role – certainly for more senior roles they know what a Product Manager does in a generic sense – but what is the mission here.
  5. Prioritise information about the job not the organisation (or their ‘journey’)
    Nobody wants to read 800 words about how great your organisation is, the amazing, world-beating journey you are on or anything else before they learn about the actual job. That is – at best – supporting information.
  6. Link to supplementary information and background content
    Write and share blogposts, videos, talks – whatever. It makes so much difference – particularly open, honest day in the life stuff. Every employer who respondents recommended as doing job descriptions well did this brilliantly.
  7. Essential skills should mean that – it isn’t a wish list
    Too many job descriptions have huge shopping lists of skills and experiences that even the Empress of Unicorns could not provide. What is are the Minimal Viable Essentials? Anything else the candidate offers is their value add.
  8. Clear English is your friend. Use Content Designers if you have them.
    Vague. Waffly. Jargon. Buzzword bingo. Generic. Empty phrases. All real feedback. Avoid this.
  9. Invest in really good jobs pages for your organisation.
    My gosh so many organisation/company job pages are terrible – especially the outsourced ones. These really are your shop window for recruitment (and not the shiny pages saying what a lovely place it is to work…that comes later.)
  10. Check for Race/Gender bias in ads / descriptions
    At this point not doing this is just a dereliction of duty if you have any public service remit at all.

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