Job Description Creation: Attract Top-Tier Candidates

  | 6 min read

Good employees will help your business increase profits and continue to grow, so you need to do your very best to attract top-tier candidates. However, many employers in Tanzania underestimate the impact a good job description can have on the quality of applicants they have for a position. It is important for businesses to sell themselves through the job description, just as employees do on their CVs and cover letters.

Your job description is the first impression many potential employees have of your company. So, it needs to accurately describe the position, paint a picture of the company environment and make people excited about working with you.

Here’s how you write a job description that effectively does this.

First Part: Job Title

The job title should be attractive and communicate value.

  • Use verbs: The job title should easily communicate what function the person in that position will be performing. For instance, instead of ‘secretary’  use ‘executive assistant’.

Second Part: Job Details

This includes a brief description of the position, and then the specific responsibilities that the employee will have.

  • Keywords: Describe the job role using keywords that the ideal candidate will be looking out for. For instance, the job description for the digital marketer should include keywords like social media savvy, SEO, PPC, active and enthusiastic. Also, use keywords that relate to knowledge, skill set and personality needed for the position.
  • Be descriptive: Paint a picture of the employee’s daily role in the company. For example, “ As the content writer you will spend around 75% of your time researching and writing articles for our company blog. You will work closely with the community manager (social media) and graphic designer to create and distribute content that engages our audience. The rest of your time will be spent helping the different departments improve their written communication”.
  • Company background: Give a brief background of the company, philosophy, milestone, successes, work culture. While also remembering to describe the role the person will play in the framework of the company. People need to feel like they are contributing to a greater cause- like they are a part of something.
  • Specific Details: Don’t forget important details like the name and title of the department and supervisor, location of job, type of employment (full-time, part-time, contract-based)
  • Pay, benefits and perks: Keep it ambiguous and use the effective ‘commensurate with experience’ line, but also give them something more to entice them. For instance, quarterly bonus. Let them know about benefits (health care, social security contribution), and other perks like flexible work hours, vacations, resources
  • Be excited: Even if you are writing a job description for an intern position, you need to portray that you are excited to find someone to play that role. Remember, there are no small roles, everyone brings something to the table. Moreover, the more positive energy you put out there, the better people will feel about applying to your company.
  • Readability: Use bullet points, bold text and italics. Where possible break the text into smaller parts in order to make the information easier to digest by job seekers.

Third Part: Required skills

This is probably the most difficult part of the job description to write.  If you are too specific and strict with requirements you may miss out on potentially amazing employees that didn’t meet all the requirements. But if you are too general, then you may get too many applications from unqualified candidates.

  • Education: The importance of educational background/degrees depends on the job. If you are hiring a Chemical Engineer, then some sort of degree in Engineering, Chemistry or a related field may be necessary. But if you are hiring a Journalist, then any university degree could be acceptable, if they have adequate work experience with journalistic writing and can demonstrate that they understand code of ethics etc.
  • Experience: If it’s an entry level job, then they can learn on the job provided they demonstrate potential. If it’s a senior level job then some years of experience either in the field or performing a similar role is important. Don’t be too strict with the number of years, as some people develop faster than others.
  • Character: What type of personality trait is needed for the position? Try describing a scenario just to drive the message home. For instance, “ can you deal with pressure? Often you will have multiple assignments due at the same time, without the possibility of an extension” Make up mock emergency situations that could possibly happen on the job, and ask the job applicants how they would react in these different circumstances.
  • Office culture: Describe the work environment as accurately as you can, this will help job seekers better assess if that is the right place for them. For instance a description like “we are a vibrant and highly collaborative company with open workspaces”, may deter someone who prefers to work on their own and may excite an extrovert who thrives on being around people.

Fourth Part: Closing

  • Application materials: Tell them what you need from them, this includes:
  1. CV
  2. Resume
  3. Writing samples
  4. A test
  • Point of contact: give them contact information and the name and position of the person. Also mention that they can refer to this person if they have any questions about the position.
  • Call-to-Action: End by encouraging all qualified candidates to apply and possibly join your awesome company.  Remember you are trying to sell the job to the best candidate, so be as positive as possible.

A great job description will attract the right candidates

Tanzanian employers often complain that there are not a lot of qualified job seekers in the market. What they fail to realize is that they have some power in attracting the best applicants for the position they are offering.

Just as the candidate works hard to produce a good application, an employer should put in some effort in making sure the job description not only effectively conveys what they are looking for in an employee, but why people should be excited to work for them.

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Iman Lipumba
A digital storyteller, experienced in creating content that improves website visibility on search engines, enhances the user experience, and nurtures brand loyalty. With a background in the social sciences, an expert in researching complex ideas, and communicating them in engaging language to multiple audiences.