What a good job listing should include
Define what makes this job different.
The pool of available talent looks and responds differently in every field, so no one-size-fits-all template will work to achieve your hiring goals. In my experience, companies tend to copy and paste generic job descriptions from around the internet. This creates a mess of information that can be confusing at best and contradictory at worst. It’s okay to look to other job listings for inspiration—and it’ll make HR happy to use the blandest and legally acceptable language possible—but those types of postings tend to get lost in the noise. It’s always best to write your job description from scratch.
If you’re wondering where to start, focus on what unique aspects your company and this role bring to the table. From employee benefits to growth opportunities and overall work culture, many aspects of a job can serve as a serious incentive for job seekers. I once challenged a client to put together a short description of the company culture from the perspective of an open VP of Regulatory position, because while the required technical elements of the role wouldn’t change from company to company the unique appeal of “what you can expect working here” will. A job description is a chance for your company to differentiate itself from the competition, and higher quality applicants will be drawn to authentic, honest writing.
Focus on keywords, not buzzwords.
With the expectations and benefits of a role laid out, the difficult task of revision begins. Job listings require precision and research to show up on the feeds of qualified applicants, which includes researching keywords for the sector and functions of the role. The most important thing is to make sure that the job description should feel like it’s about them, not you.
Keywords are best used in sentences that feel like the reader is living the job. In the sample job description included above, look at how each of the responsibilities read more as possible days on the job instead of basic functions. This helps alert the applicant to how their expertise functions in the company as a whole and helps convey the company culture at the same time.
A job posting functions as an introduction of your company, so being clear about the role and work culture will help applicants understand if you’re the right fit for them and vice versa. Try not to focus on arbitrary thresholds with years of experience in a field; I’ve seen plenty of folks with 4 years’ experience that can run circles around others with 10 years’ experience in the same field.
“The ideal applicant should have 8-10 years of global experience, preferably in the gene and cell therapy fields.”
“Seeking a Global Regulatory Liaison to work in novel therapies related to gene & cell therapy. Applicants should be open to working alongside thought leaders in the field and have solid years of experience working in a regulatory environment. A willingness to commit to steering our novel drug all the way through the FDA process is a must.”
Being both creative and specific is necessary when crafting a job listing, but it’s important to not lose sight of the forest for the trees. Imagine being a qualified candidate looking at the job description you’ve written and consider if any of the qualifications seem repetitive. Is it difficult to read through the number of role requirements? Are there phrases like “detail-oriented” or “self-motivated” that could apply to any job? Less is always more with job postings and economizing your language by getting creative with your keyword usage will help you condense the listing’s word count.
Think beyond the job description.
If you’re struggling to identify the work culture beyond general descriptors or are unsure of what information is essential when paring down your job listing, consider what the rest of the hiring process will look like and don’t be afraid to be honest. You want to be sure that applicants are the right fit, and the interview process is an arduous process as it is. You might lead a high-impact office full of big personalities, and the role demands someone who won’t get run over by everyone else in the company. If you really need someone who isn’t conflict-averse, it’s okay to frame it in a way that connects company to culture, such as “Intellectually rigorous environment where spirited discussions are encouraged.”
Visualizing the interview process also gives you an opportunity to further enforce ways that an open position stands out from other listings. Incorporating the employee experience can put a focus on the corporate culture and organically display the benefits of working for your company. People appreciate the real more than the positive and can usually tell the difference in a job description. In the sample job description above, qualifications like “Effectively lead and manage multiple time-sensitive projects” could read as an overbooked or mismanaged company to an overly cautious HR Manager, but in the context of this Director of Regulatory Affairs position it’s an apt description of the daily job. If you’re confident in laying out the demands of the position, successful candidates will be able to imagine themselves more clearly in the role before applying.
Putting in the time to perfect a job description may seem like too much time investment, but it’s a necessary step in the hiring process. Spending the time to be clear and concise, both in what you’re looking for and what you expect from the applicant, saves time and energy later in interviews and other steps in the application. Attracting the right job seeker requires specificity and an understanding of the current job market, which is vital to the long-term success of a hire and necessary to consider when crafting a job posting.
ERAPS is a boutique Regulatory Search Firm based in Boston MA and Amsterdam Netherlands. Founded in 2020 by Brandan Sweeney, they have over 20 years expertise representing clinical-stage through to commercial stage biopharmaceutical companies to identify and place the best Regulatory “DNA” that fits a company’s culture.