Looking to hire better writers? You’re not alone. Ad agencies, publishing houses, media outlets, PR firms, startups and nonprofits are hiring more writers than ever—copywriters, content creators, social media managers, journalists… the list goes on and on.
Even if you’re not hiring a writer, chances are you still want an employee with great writing skills. According to a study conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 70% of employers say they value writing skills in all job candidates. In this age of constant communication, that’s certainly no surprise.
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So, how do you attract better writers to your company?
It all starts with your job description. For most candidates, this is their first encounter with you and your business. A few paragraphs are all that stand between you and a talented writer looking for a new gig.
Fortunately, paragraphs are the perfect place to win over a writer. If those paragraphs are well-crafted, writers will be drawn in like moths to a flame. Writers love good writing! It excites them, it entices them, and it encourages them to apply.
A well-written job description not only thrills qualified candidates, it keeps your inbox free of unqualified candidates. Bad writers are intimidated by good writing. They’ll read your expertly crafted job listing and say: “No thanks.”
So, you need fantastic writing to land a fantastic writer. A bit of a catch-22, isn’t it? How do you improve your job description if you’re not a writer yourself, but an HR professional, a recruiter, or a hiring manager?
There’s no reason you can’t punch up your job description on your own. Pay attention to these five components, and you’ll be just fine.
Writers love writing that’s clear and precise. Don’t try to be fancy or convoluted. Say what you mean and mean what you say. When you’re finished editing for clarity, put the job description away for a day or two, and then take another look. It’ll be easier for you to spot details that aren’t clear.
Now’s not the time for pages and pages of information. A job listing is an appetizer, not the full meal. So, keep things short and sweet, no more than 3-4 short paragraphs of 3-4 sentences each for the entire job description. As all writers know, “brevity is the soul of wit.” (Thanks, Shakespeare.)
Speaking of wit, don’t be afraid to inject some into your recruiting materials. Job descriptions are often dry and boring, so a spark of humor is always welcome, especially for a job seeker who’s been on the hunt for days, weeks or months. If you can make them laugh… or even just smile… they’re more likely to apply.
Show off the personality of your workplace by choosing the appropriate tone. Are you a hard-hitting newsroom in search of a practiced reporter? That’s how your job description should sound. Are you a hip, innovative agency looking for a quirky content creator? That voice should come across.
Avoid workplace jargon at all costs. “Attention to detail,” “results-oriented,” “works independently and with a team.” You’ve heard these phrases a million times, and they’ve overused to the point of being meaningless. Cliches really grate on writers, who make a living creating original language. Check out this exhaustive list of buzzwords to avoid.
When in doubt, you can also ask a writerly type who’s already on your staff to edit your job description. They’ll bring fresh eyes to the process, and can often complete a full revision in less time than it would take someone who’s not a professional writer.
If you’re really in a jam, there are plenty of freelancers out there who specialize in this kind of task. Who knows… if they do a fantastic job, they might be the perfect person to recruit for your company.