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Writing Job Descriptions to Attract Top Talent

August 2017- Erica Woods, Manager of Contractor and Community Relations, Principal, and Cate Murray, Practice Director - PM/BA

Interestingly enough, job descriptions are often an area that hiring managers pay little attention to, yet it ends up hurting them the most! We often hear “I don’t have time” from hiring managers in response to our request to update a job description, which is frustrating because it’s an essential part of a successful hiring process. An inaccurate or unrealistic job description is also a constant and major frustration for job seekers.

Why does this inattention to the job description hinder your hiring process? A few major reasons come into play here:

  1. Strong technology professionals are one of the most in demand skill sets out there! This means they have their pick of opportunities, and as a result, will be more likely to pursue the jobs that have descriptions which align to their interests and goals.
  2. Many managers make the mistake of writing their job description as a list of requirements, while leaving out the details which job seekers care about. One job board study found that 85-95% of job seekers were not clicking the apply button on positions they were qualified for because the opportunity just didn't seem attractive to them.
  3. Another fatal mistake is listing all of the requirements you want to find in one person, when in reality, a large number of those requirements could be considered preferred qualifications. Due to this mislabeling, many of your best technology job seekers will rule themselves out and not even apply if they are missing one bullet point on your large list of requirements.

Bottom line: invest at least 10 minutes to frame your job description to align with these three goals is incredibly important to generating a strong applicant pool!

  1. Description is an accurate reflection of your current opening.
  2. Description includes the details that will ignite interest for your target technology job seeker audience.
  3. Description distinguishes between what is truly required vs. what is preferred.

Let's take a look at what a quality job description looks like, paying attention to the information that is communicated to attract quality talent.

EX. Job Description – Software Architect


We are seeking a strategic, innovative, and solutions-oriented Principle Software Architect (Microsoft .NET tech) for a long-term opportunity which will allow 40-60% remote work potential with the remainder onsite at the Baltimore, MD location, where the entire Innovative Technology Solutions Group of 30-35 team members is based. The Architect will be responsible for the architecture and re-engineering of key customized software products, helping revolutionize existing large-scale .NET web and mobile applications, moving to more Open Source web full stack applications that are hosted in the Cloud (microservices). Tech environment/landscape: ASP.NET MVC, SQL Server, SQL BI products, Angular, Node, BootStrap, Agile Scrum, DevOps.

Our organization is a leader in strategy, and this group (ITSG) focuses on evaluating and revolutionizing existing systems and technologies, while being an evangelist and executor of bringing new technologies, tools, and approaches into the organization. Additional benefits we offer include: competitive salary, 20-25% annual bonus structure, 100% employer paid health coverage for employee and family, industry-leading 401K program and match, tuition and certification reimbursement of up to $7,500 annually (this amount may also include up to one tech conference), multiple training programs, an annual MSDN license, and a fun, hard-working, collaborative, and energetic culture.

Primary Responsibilities of Software Architect:

  • Perform architectural analysis and design for systems spanning our client’s products and services portfolio
  • Partner with various business stakeholders and technology leaders to translate program requirements into technical solutions and system designs
  • Document and communicate designs, estimates, and implementation plans to program stakeholders
  • Collaborate with other members of the Core Technologies Services team, including architects and technical leads, to evaluate solutions and gain consensus on technical direction
  • Research, design, test, and evaluate new technologies and vendor solutions
  • Implement POCs and pair with technical leads on implementations
  • Maintain an organization-wide view of current and future business and application architecture to provide solutions that integrate into the overall architectural vision and strategy
  • Provide leadership and expertise in the development of standards, architectural governance, design patterns, and practices

Requirements of Software Architect:

  • 10+ years of technical leadership and architecture experience in software development
  • 6+ years of experience designing and delivering large scale distributed systems, with focus on .NET languages (ASP.NET MVC required)
  • Solid understanding of security/access control, scalability, high availability, and concurrency patterns
  • Flexibility and creativity in solution design - including leveraging emerging technologies
  • Prior experience with at least one major IaaS and/or PaaS technology (OpenStack, AWS, Heroku, etc.)

Pluses of Software Architect:

  • Experience with agile development, continuous delivery, and DevOps
  • Hands on, professional or personal, experience with Angular, Bootstrap and/or Node.js
  • Strong reactive programming (RxJS preferred)


Summary and Best Practices
With the above thoughts in mind, here are our main recommendations for a quality job description:

  1. Include the details that would be of interest to that audience, such as any and all technologies, tools, etc. they’d get the opportunity to utilize
  2. Description of group/team and their focus
  3. Details of environment and/or culture
  4. Distinguish between true requirements and pluses, so candidates aren’t “self-eliminating”
  5. Ensure your requirements list is realistic (i.e. there’s a good sized candidate pool that exists in your market with that list)
  6. Include the key priorities and expectations, answering their common question/s of “What do you hope this person comes in and accomplishes in the first 3-12 months? What challenges/pain points will this role help solve? What impact will this role have on the group, company, client, industry, and/or world?”

Looking for a partner in securing your talent? Contact your local Apex branch here.
Seeking your next technical opportunity? Give our openings a look.