Tech & Work

Land the right candidate by adding detail to job listings

Finding the right candidate for an open position may not be as complicated as you think. Use these expert tips to craft a job description that will increase your chances of reeling in just the right job prospect.


Finding the right employee with a job listing requires time—a precious commodity for most IT managers. Sifting through a pile of resumes to find the right candidate, however, is often a waste of time.

Writing a more detailed job listing, however, can help pinpoint and attract qualified candidates for your open position.

Kwong Thong, a TechRepublic member, asked other members in the Technical Q&A forum for advice on writing effective job descriptions.We contacted an expert for an answer to Thong’s question.

Advertise your organization
Providing more detail about your organization in a job listing can serve two purposes. First, the strategy can be used to weed out candidates who may not be interested in working for your type of company. For example, some IT professionals may not want to work for a nonprofit or a government agency. Second, if you play up your company and its attributes, you may attract more of the best and the brightest candidates available.

“Every company tells a good story, and every recruiter really should be a sales person for their company,” said Joseph Stubblebine, the president and CEO of JobCircle.com, an online employment site for technical professionals in Pennsylvania, New York City, Delaware, and New Jersey.

Either way, a brief description of your organization will give job seekers the preliminary information they need.

Include all the details
Job candidates also need specifics. “Technical people tend to be functional, detail-orientated, more microeconomics kind of people…we always recommend that the [listing] should also do more than just advertise the company,” Stubblebine said.

Giving details about a position is the second way to avoid receiving superfluous resumes. “The job listing should provide a detailed description of expectations so that [companies] get the right online applicants,” said Stubblebine. “You don’t want to wade through a million resumes” to find the person who best fits your need.

But listing a job’s details takes time. Stubblebine recommends four strategies when writing a job description for an open position:
  • Outline your organization: Give a general and a financial overview of your organization. List the vertical markets that the organization operates in. Include some history and background on the organization.
  • Provide management information: Offer statistics on the size and scope of the IT department. For example, if you need a developer, tell the candidate how many other developers are in your shop. “This gives you some idea of overall budgets and the prospects for future raises,” said Stubblebine.
  • List all responsibilities: Let a candidate know exactly what his or her responsibilities will be. For example, are programmers required to write technical documents? Will developers collect requirements from organizational business units? Will network administrators work alone or with other administrators? Will traveling be part of the job?
  • Reveal the perks: Candidates want to know about growth opportunities, tuition reimbursement, day care services, casual dress codes, and other employee benefits. Make sure you list them all.

“Usually, if you’re fairly detailed in those four areas, you’re going to make sure that you increase the probability of getting qualified applicants,” said Stubblebine.

A model to follow
Stubblebine critiqued a job description found on the national “boards,” a nickname for national online recruitment sites. This description is based on a HotJobs.com listing (see Figure A).

Figure A
This sample job listing description hit the mark in some areas but missed the target in others.


A good start
Though Stubblebine felt the description was headed in the right direction, he offers some other key points that managers should include in every description:
  • Include more sponsorship information: Larger boards like Monster.com and Headhunter.net attract international candidates, said Stubblebine. “If you’re posting on more national boards, then clearly identify your sponsorship opportunities and citizenship requirements,” he said.
  • Explain the company’s methodologies: The sample listing mentions that a COBOL programmer will be required to complete full life-cycle projects. “If you expect me to do full life-cycle development, I’d like to know what type of methodology you specifically use,” said Stubblebine. “For example, do you use Microsoft Solutions Framework for your actual methodology?”
  • Reveal what you will pay: Including a salary range is another way to weed out candidates. “I always recommend including a pay within a 5 to 10K range,” said Stubblebine. For example, fresh college graduates may not be ready for an $80,000 position. “Those people are looking for 20 to 30K and when they see an 80 to 90K range, they say, ‘Oh, I’m not qualified,’” he said.
  • Tell a candidate where you stand: Simply saying that ACMEIT is a Fortune 500 company doesn’t say enough about the organization. “Even Enron was a Fortune 500,” said Stubblebine. Providing more financial data on the organization "...is really important. I want to know how much revenue you make, how much net profit you have, what your payables are, what your long-term debt is, and what some of your projections for growth are."
  • Know your success: Stubblebine said that many managers and human resource offices don’t track a job listing’s results. Adding a job code can help. “There’s no job code to track the source of response for ROI, for recruiting ROI. We always recommend job codes and, if you can, code your boards and your newspaper (ads) differently,” he said.

How do you recruit the right employees?
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