How to Write the Most Effective Job Description
The perfect candidates for your open agriculture jobs are out there. Some are scouring through job listing after job listing. Others are unhappily employed and waiting for their next move to catch their eye. In such a massive industry, how can you be sure your position stands out enough to attract your next star employee?
It starts with writing a stand out job description. By putting in the early effort to properly define your company and the position, you can find the right candidate more quickly and efficiently.
Writing a job description that thoroughly explains a role while still attracting job seekers is a tough balance. It’s one of the hardest parts of recruiting new employees, especially as the job market continues to change and more candidates are being hired from outside of agriculture.
Recently, AgHires conducted a survey consisting of 129 responses from active job seekers. The results were reassuring, but in some aspects, very surprising.
Creating a job posting can seem like a beast to tackle, but AgHires has nailed down the essentials and what to prioritize. Here is our ultimate guide to writing the perfect job description to attract the perfect candidate.
12 Tips for Writing an Impactful Agriculture Job DescriptionTake a look at any job board or the career page on a company’s website and you will most likely find uninspiring job descriptions that severely fail at their main goal: getting people to apply. Job descriptions have the potential to do so much, yet most barely elicit the desire to hit the “apply” button. How can you hire great talent if they’re not even interested in reading about the job you’re offering them?
You don’t have to be a skilled writer in order to craft an alluring job description. You only need what you already have:
Knowledge of the position
- Job Title
- Necessary skill set
- Required experience with tools and technology
Insider’s look at what it’s like to work for your company
- Your culture and mission
- Hiring needs and status
- Recent achievements
- Products and services
What your company has to offer its employees
- Benefits packages
- Employee incentives
- Perks of the job
- Work life balance
Here are some other helpful tips to follow:
1. Use the proper title.
Job hunting for candidates can be just as tedious and stressful as the ag recruiting process is for employers – maybe even more. Actively seeking candidates read dozens if not hundreds of postings to select the right position and company. If you don’t choose the proper title, candidates may scroll right past your job posting without even checking the details.
When reviewing job descriptions, AgHires data suggests that 50% of candidates looked at the job title first, with 42% first looking at responsibilities.
Keep these four aspects in mind when deciding on the right title for description:
Oftentimes a position can be mislabeled when listing a title in comparison with the job responsibilities. AgHires found the majority of candidates begin their job search by using online job boards searching for specific industries and more importantly job titles. You want to be sure the job title is a true depiction of the role.
If the job position is a management, executive or chief role, you’ll want to include this in the title. These key terms imply a certain level of experience or strategic responsibilities.
Use simple and searchable titles and implement keywords from within your industry. We recommend sticking to what your candidates are likely already searching. Do your research by running a search of job titles other companies are using in your area.
This could be why your Sprayer Operator job posting for your organization has limited applicants. Oftentimes, job titles can be regional and for the latter example, Custom Applicator may be a better option.
A job title should be straightforward. Many employers make the mistake of adding extra words, such as “dynamic” or “skilled”. Adjectives do not send a clear message about the duties of the position. However, a job title that is too vague doesn’t either. For example, simply listing “Sales Manager” as the job title, is not going to be as impactful as “Chemical Supplies Sales Manager”.
Your perfect candidate might not have a ton of sales experience, but does have extensive knowledge in chemicals and related supplies. By including this additional detail, you’ll attract candidates that might have otherwise skipped over your job posting.
Another mistake to look out for is getting a little too innovative with your job titles. Using words such as “rockstar”, “unicorn” or “guru” might have higher level candidates rolling their eyes. While they might make your job posting stand out from the crowd, it gives off a sense of unprofessionalism that attracts less serious candidates.
2. Follow a clear template.As experienced ag recruiters, we’ve seen the best and worst of job descriptions. Some are too wordy. Some are too vague. Others are unclear and leave room for candidates to be confused or turned off.
We’ve found that using a template is a convenient way to make sure you’re touching on all the important points. Here is an example of a simple job description template:
Company name is an equipment dealer or large farm, basic info on the operation, size, locations, family owned, years in business. Explain the work environment and company culture. No more than 3-5 sentences. Include a website link if you want to!
What we’re looking for: A Job Title to join our City, State team. As a Job Title, you will have the following impact on our company. Brief description of responsibilities and how this person will interact with other employees or customers.
What we have: List benefits, perks of being employed by this company, unique environment, benefits package and compensation, opportunities for advancement and training.
What you would be doing:
- List them in order of importance
- Typical daily responsibilities
- Number of employees to manage if any
- Travel requirements if any
- Expected involvement with customers and company leadership
- Goals that employee will be expected to meet
This job might be for you if you have:
- List required qualifications here
- Required experience
Relatable Titles: Lingo changes from state to state and what you call a Store Manager may also be a Location Manager to someone else.
3. Write an engaging and precise overview of the position.
A solid job description will include a brief but effective overview about the position. On several agriculture recruitment websites or job boards, this blurb might be the preview text that candidates first see when they come across your job posting.
At AgHires, when we craft job descriptions for our clients, we try to include the position’s primary function and responsibility, how it contributes to the business’s long-term goals and objectives, as well as why this role is not only essential to the company, but the industry or community as a whole.
Younger generations joining the workforce and deciding to work in agriculture are seeking out positions that will allow them to have a positive impact on society. That’s why it is especially important for agriculture, agribusiness and food production companies to highlight the influential ways they’re making a difference in such a crucial industry.
4. List only the essential requirements
Candidates spend hours reading mundane job descriptions and submitting their resumes. One of the biggest turn offs we’ve heard from chatting with candidates is a job posting being way too lengthy. Finding the right balance between providing the essential details of the position and keeping the candidate interested is key.
From our survey, we found that 28% of job seekers believe job postings have too many requirements. Here is where the issue lies; employers are writing job descriptions that require countless requirements that are not always 100% essential. If an employer says a role requires ten very specific qualifications and a candidate only meets 8, it’s very likely they may rule themselves out as unqualified.
When working with employers on writing postings, we try to emphasize the essentials that are required to complete the essential duties of the role. Next time you write a new job description or revisit an existing posting, take into consideration factors such as education requirements may be substituted by relevant experience. Furthermore, maybe experience is not required, but an individual with passion, ambition and willingness to learn may be the best candidate regardless of experience.
Another common turn-off when it comes to lengthy job descriptions is it can give the impression that you micromanage your team. That’s why we advise our clients to keep the list of requirements to a minimum and instead focus on goals and what you have to offer as an employer.
Job responsibilities change over time as your company grows and the industry evolves. It’s unrealistic to include every single detail in the initial job description. Remember, you can always go into more detail later when you take the next steps with a candidate. Keep it short and to the point while focusing on the key selling points about the position.
5. Speak to candidates clearly and directly
Using “you” and “we” when composing your job description can make your posting more personal and make job seekers feel like they’re joining a team. For example, a job listing for an agribusiness executive may read, “They will oversee the farm’s incoming revenue and outgoing expenses.” By switching out “they” with “you”, the posting becomes more relatable. Candidates can picture themselves in the role.
Likewise, you should avoid speaking in third person about your company and use “we” wherever it’s appropriate. For example, some employers may write, “AgHires is a trusted source for agriculture recruitment.” Instead, try something along the lines of, “At AgHires, we pride ourselves on being a trusted source for agriculture recruitment.” By doing so, your job ad comes off more human-to-human, which speaks to the internal culture of your company.
It is also important to be direct. Avoid using phrases that speak generally about the job responsibilities. For example, a poor description for an agronomy sales rep may read, “The goal is to provide expert agronomic help and insight to sell products.” This indirect approach does not give candidates a clear idea of what they’ll actually be doing.
A more direct approach has a bigger impact. Try this instead: “You’ll be providing hands-on agronomic support to our clients to help them discover the products they need.” This allows candidates to imagine themselves in the role and better explain how their unique skill set will make them the right fit.
6. Describe the culture of your company
Today, a company’s culture has a major influence on whether or not a candidate will apply. You want to be sure your job description adequately conveys your company’s values and provides an insider’s look into what it would be like to work on your team.
Let the highlights of the job speak for themselves. Include unique work perks, such as free lunch once a month or end of the year bonuses. If it’s a traveling position, be sure to mention which parts of the country (or world) they could possibly visit. Brag about how your company has an awesome benefits package or mention the sales incentives rewards program.
You want to portray a positive, enjoyable work environment and favorable work-life balance. Candidates appreciate when job descriptions take these types of benefits into consideration. These details are proven to make them feel more compelled to apply for the job.
Job seekers are looking for more than just a paycheck these days and how else will they find out what it’s like to work for your company if it’s not in the job description?
7. Include current employees in composing the job listing.
Most employers don’t think about writing job descriptions until a position opens up. That’s when they find themselves digging through files in the HR department to locate the previous, and likely outdated, job description for that position.
The last thing you want to do is share a job posting that doesn’t describe the current skills and experience the role requires or leaves out the benefits your company now offers. Likewise, you don’t want to include any qualifications that are no longer necessary or could be learned on the job. You could risk missing out on candidates that choose not to apply because they don’t meet one of these unnecessary requirements.
To avoid both of these scenarios and ensure your job description is up to date, we recommend involving your current employees in composing your job posting. The best people to ask for advice about describing a specific role in your company are going to be the people that work with this role every day.
Your team has an in-depth understanding of what the position requires on a day to day basis. They’ll help you fine-tune the description and may reveal some important details about the role you haven’t thought of.
8. Avoid listing only standard requirements.
Too many employers make the mistake of just typing out a standard list of skills and certifications. This can deter candidates that might be lacking one of the skills, but possess other qualities that make them qualified for the position.
A strong job description includes results you want to achieve by hiring this new employee. Focus on how this role contributes to the overall goals your company is working towards. The perfect candidate might not look perfect on paper, but is just as capable of achieving the results you’re after.
9. Write with a sense of urgency for the position.
You might not be in any rush to fill the position you’re recruiting for, but your job description should make it seem that way. Creating urgency for the role will inspire candidates to jump on the opportunity.
This approach also attracts high quality passive candidates that are already employed, but considering leaving their current position. A well-written job description that has a definitive start date might be the push they need to make a change and apply.
10. Avoid discrimination and biased ads.
It is imperative you avoid discriminatory or biased language in your job descriptions. The slightest mistake can be detrimental to your agriculture recruitment efforts. We advise our clients to stay away from using gender-biased terms, such as “salesman” or setting age specific requirements, such as “10 years of experience”. This discriminates against younger candidates that might not have as many years under their belts, but can still be an influential addition to your team.
Neutral wording in job listings resulted in 42 percent more applicants than listings that contained gendered words. - ZipRecruiter
11. Pay attention to details.
As agriculture recruiters, we are meticulous when reviewing the resumes we receive from candidates. We pay close attention to each and every detail to make sure a candidate is a perfect fit. In our experience, we’ve found that candidates do the same thing when reading job descriptions.
That’s why it’s important to double and triple check your job posting to be sure there are no grammatical or spelling errors and that everything is stated clearly. When candidates are comparing available positions, even the most subtle mistake in your job description can be the determining factor for them choosing to apply elsewhere.
12. Get creative.
Sometimes it takes a little creativity to compose a job description that stands out. Adding a touch of personality can help set you apart from other job postings and catch the attention of higher quality candidates that have been on the hunt for their ideal job for months.
Candidates grow tired of submitting applications over and over again. It’s a tedious process. Offering the option to submit a video cover letter, instead of their copy-and-paste written letter is beneficial to both you and the candidate. They have a chance to display their charisma, personality, and explain why they think they’re right for the job, while you have the opportunity to get a better feel for who they would be as a member of your team.
Work with an Agriculture RecruiterAt the end of the day, make your job description concise and to the point. Use simple keywords and include enough information about the role and your company to entice the candidate. Most job seekers spend less than a minute reading a posting, so don’t lose your top candidates over too many words or knocking them out with a few non-essential requirements.
Evaluate what you have and always keep up with current trends on job titles. Consider current employees, did any of them come from outside of the industry or not meet the ideal requirements? Were they a success? Use these tips and you will surely enhance the candidate experience and responsiveness to your job postings.
If you’re having difficulty finding the right candidates for your role, the next best move is to work with a team of expert agriculture recruiters. Here at AgHires, we have the in-depth knowledge, industry connections and years of experience to match you with the perfect addition to your team. As your partner, we’ll work with you to discover exactly what you’re looking for in an ideal candidate and craft an effective job description that will attract the highest quality candidates.