Write better job descriptions

JDs were never meant to be external ads. They are internal HR documents. Boring, not attractive. Learn how to rewrite them.


A fundamental problem with job descriptions in IT

There’s a fundamental problem with job descriptions for IT positions which is a reason recruiters don’t get enough applicants.

Look, JDs were never meant to be external ads. They are internal HR documents, supposed to be stored in an internal knowledge base.

But here’s what most of the IT recruiters do: they pull them out of the internal knowledge base (with the help of an HR specialist) and then copy-paste the super-boring JD to job portals — hoping this will attract software developers.

Let’s leave the JDs where they are supposed to be (in an internal HR knowledge base) and create attractive job ads instead.

We help our clients, IT recruiters, to rewrite the super-boring JDs to more attractive job ads.

Here’s how:

1. Avoid obvious mistakes

First, we need to remove all the obvious mistakes such as:

  • Merging two roles into one JD (Java Developer - mobile, web, desktop)
  • or mistakes in technologies (programming languages, frameworks, tools)

2. Focus on what matters to developers

Second, we need to focus on what matters to developers. Experience shows software developers are keen to know about the tech stack the company uses. If more stacks are used, we need to highlight the one the developer will be working with most.

In addition, developers tell us they want to know more about the company and team.

  • Company type: corporation, agency, startup?
  • Team: size and seniority?
  • SW dev methodologies: waterfall or agile?

3. Low hanging fruit

Third, developers want to know a little more about the company culture and management. We can help them by adding links to company profiles on

  • Crunchbase
  • Glassdoor rating / reviews

Even if you cannot mention the company name, you can still mention for example “Glassdoor rating 4.8” (without a link).

4. Tweak it to be more attractive

We are getting to a next level here. A job ad itself is not enough as you cannot send it in a LinkedIn message when you reach out to developers.

We recommend writing a short teaser. Only three-four sentences long highlighting the most important pieces of information. Salary range, too.

A little trick how to write the teaser effectively: It helps me to imagine I’m on a call with a developer. I only have 15-20 seconds to present the opportunity and need to focus on the most important pieces of information.

5. Connect

Fifth, introduce a little more marketing and sales best practices to your JDs. Here’s one of the phrases you can use at the beginning of the job ads:

“If you are __ and you want ___ _ here’s what we’ve got for you.”

Example: If you are a senior Java developer with a strong knowledge of the Spring framework and you want to join a startup with lots of opportunities to grow, here’s what I’ve got for you: A funded startup in Munich with a team of five backend Java developers need help building their new e-commerce platform. Salary starts at 3.500 EUR. Would you like to know more?”

6. Transparency is the key

It’s obvious you often cannot (or don’t want to) communicate the name of your client. That’s OK. Just apply one of the phrases from the Design Sprint which starts with “How might we…?”

“How might we communicate Glassdoor rating?”

  • If a link to Glassdoor company profile is not feasible, we can at least write “Glassdoor rating 4.8”

“How might we communicate the salary?”

  • If we cannot write it in the job ads, we can at least send it in a private message.
  • If we cannot write the one number, we can at least communicate a range.

“How might we reveal more info about the team?”

  • If we cannot reveal the names of team members, we can at least mention team size and seniority.

Here's what you can do next...

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