How to write an effective job description for developers
Hiring
April 26, 2020
3
min read

How to write an effective job description for developers

Ana Gospodinova
Ana Gospodinova

Hiring great talent starts with crafting a compelling job ad description – it is essential to attract the most qualified candidates for your job. A great job description can help your jobs stand out from the rest. Your job descriptions are where you start marketing your company and your job to your future hire.

The key to writing effective job descriptions is to find the perfect balance between providing enough detail so candidates understand the role and your company while keeping your description concise. So, you have probably asked yourself why your job ad is not attracting the right candidates? The answer usually is: Your job description is too long, overwhelming and not focused enough.

Based on the experience of our career advisors and continuous contact with developers, we have collected tips to create a job ad that stands out.

What is a job description?

A job description summarizes the essential responsibilities, activities, qualifications and skills for a role.

A job description should include important company details – company mission, culture and any benefits it provides to employees. It may also specify to whom the position reports and salary range.

An effective job description will provide enough detail for candidates to determine if they’re qualified for the position.

The A and O of writing compelling job descriptions

Job title

When thinking of job titles – keep it simple. Make your job titles specific. Targeted job titles are more effective than generic ones, so be precise by including key phrases that accurately describe the role. Always consider the search terms your potential candidates are using.

Avoid internal lingo that may confuse potential candidates. Over the top language tends to prevent job seekers from applying. Creativity might help your job ad stand out. But it is counterproductive for the candidates looking for the same job under the different, more conventional name. We suggest integrating industry-standard names over the "ninjas" or "rockstar" terms. Stick to standard experience levels like "Senior" rather than "VI" or other terms people are less likely to look for.

Qualifications and skills

Must have skills – or tech stack as we call it – are the most critical aspect for developers to go ahead and engage with the job ad. To save precious time, show to potential candidates what exactly will they be focusing on. If they don’t feel that everything that they are looking for is listed, they will be discouraged to apply.

Include a list of hard and soft skills. Of course, the job description should specify education, previous job experience, certifications and technical skills required for the role. You may also include soft skills, like communication and problem solving, as well as personality traits that you envision for a successful hire.

Keep your list concise. While you may be tempted to list out every requirement you envision for your ideal hire, including too many qualifications and skills could dissuade potential candidates.

Responsibilities and duties

Outline the core responsibilities of the position and the projects/products your future employee will be working on. Projects and products are one of the two most important things for a developer. These elements will define the overall company attractiveness level and might be the very reason to make or break the deal. It’s not that easy to integrate project scope inside the job ad in easy to understand the tone of voice.

Make sure to provide an attractive overview of your projects/products which are the day-to-day activities of the position to avoid being dry on details as one of the biggest mistakes when it comes to creating software development job listings. This will help candidates understand the work environment and the activities they will be exposed to on a daily basis. This level of detail will help the candidate determine if the role and company are a right fit, helping you attract the best candidates for your position.

Also emphasize the duties that may be unique to your organization. Specify how the position fits into the organization. Indicate who the job reports to and how the person will function within your organization, helping candidates see the bigger picture and understand how the role impacts the business.

Job salary

Yes, this still matters. As listed salary job ads attract more applicants, we suggest being as transparent as possible.

Software developers generally don’t show interest to know the minimum according to local salary levels. If your salary is not attractive enough, they might look elsewhere. Remember you job offers are competing with all the other job ads out there looking for the same candidates that you do.

The safest way is to present the average target salary for the role and then negotiate along the way. On the other hand, this is a convenient way to eliminate expensive candidates and stay in line with the budget.

Language

To enlarge your audience of potential candidates, we recommend to write your job descriptions on WeAreDevelopers – or actually in general – in English. For software engineers, English is a universal language. Take advantage of that fact.

One more to blow off the competition

Put it in the job description together with the timeline and stick to it. Communicate to developers how long the whole process will take, what are the different recruitment phases, or potentially who will interview them.

Simply, it’s not only about the job description. It is about the overall experience.

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