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6 tips to write an effective job description

BY: Tammy Pennington on August 21, 2017

Knowing how to write effective job descriptions can dramatically improve your organization’s chances of getting the best job candidates.

According to Career Builder, 75% of candidates say the appearance of a job posting affects their choice on whether to apply. Creating a job description that sets your organization apart is particularly important in the healthcare field where competition for top-rate nursing talent is fierce.

Using the following best practices for writing job descriptions can improve your changes for getting the right candidates:

1. Be specific about job title and specialty

Being specific about the nurse job title and specialty is important for job searches and SEO. Expand your title beyond just the basic terms of registered nurse or staff nurse. Providing a specific title (such as ER nursing shift supervisor, clinical nurse or pediatric operating room nurse) improves the chances of finding the candidates you want. If you have a sign-on bonus or special perks such as a housing allowance, mention it in the title (i.e., NICU RN, FT nights, $2,000 relocation allowance).

2. Optimize your job title’s search potential

Do not use your company’s custom job titles if they do not meet industry standards. Make sure candidates understand the position and skill level that’s required; for example, use Staff Nurse instead of RN I. To optimize the job title’s search potential, avoid using job numbers, use only the most accepted abbreviations, and do not use cutesy words such as superstar or multitasker.

3. Include a salary range or pay level

To attract the candidates you want, it’s helpful to include an annual salary range or hourly pay level (i.e., $75,000 to $85,000 a year, or $30 to $40 per hour). If you would prefer not include a salary in the description, use an enticing phrase such as “top pay” or “competitive pay and benefits.”

4. Ensure job descriptions are mobile friendly

An estimated 77% of job seekers use mobile apps to search and apply for jobs, according to Beyond.com. Since the average screen size for a mobile phone typically is less than 6 inches, reading a long job description can be challenging for potential candidates. Be concise enough so applicants aren’t scrolling through several screens to read the full job description.

5. Write short job descriptions

Keep the job description short enough that the candidates don’t lose interest. According to Indeed.com, the key to writing effective job descriptions is finding the perfect balance between providing enough detail so that the candidates understand the role and company while keeping the description concise. Indeed has found job descriptions of between 700 and 1,100 words see an average 24% increase in application rates compared with longer descriptions.6.

6. Remember branding is important

Include your company logo or an image of your facility for branding, and add a company slogan that gives potential job seekers a glimpse of your company’s culture. Embed a video in your job post that tells your story. Career Builder says including a video will boost your application rate by 34%.

A job description in itself won’t guarantee you will find the candidate you are looking for to fill a particular position. However, by writing good descriptions, you can increase the pool of qualified applicants and improve your chances of making a successful hire.


Tammy Pennington

Tammy Pennington has been helping recruiters reach nurses through both live events and technology for nearly two decades. As product manager for advertising solutions at OnCourse Learning, Pennington focuses on launching new products to keep companies engaged and connected with job seekers. She formerly was national events director for Nurse.com. Follow her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/tammy-pennington-7622576/ or on Twitter @Tpennington123.