The right toolsIt’s hard enough to attract high-quality job applicants — but what do you do when you drive applicants away by posting shoddy job descriptions on your website? Here are a few tips to make your job descriptions generate interest from the people you most want to hire:

First and foremost, write job descriptions in an informal, engaging style. Gone are the days when military-style, command and control could ooze through every sentence and semicolon.

Today’s top business talent wants to be conversed with rather than barked at. Avoid verbiage such as, “SUCCESSFUL APPLICANTS WILL HAVE THE FOLLOWING SKILLS: (followed by 25 complex, detailed bullet points).”  Instead, try something softer: “The people we’re looking for to round out our team are skilled in (followed by five generalized bullet points).”

Speaking of detailed bullet points, the more you include, the more reasons you give good applicants to rule themselves out. Do you really want to miss out on a spectacular hire because the individual met 24/25 of your requirements, but did not have experience using a left-handed monkey wrench and therefore failed to submit a resume?

Don’t let your job description become a dumping ground for specific qualifications. Isolate the “must-have” qualifications from the “nice-to-haves,” and stick to the former.

Also, avoid piling on specifics when it comes to describing job responsibilities. Convey the most important responsibilities and present them in as generalized a way as possible. When job responsibilities are heavily detailed, they tend to deteriorate into jargon-laden descriptions barely comprehensible to an outsider — not the kind of stuff likely to attract top talent.

Applicants do want specifics when it comes to benefits and compensation. For legitimate reasons companies are reluctant to post too much detail about these areas. My only advice is: don’t put lipstick on your pig. If your goal is to pay at the low end of the salary range, don’t promise generous or even “competitive” compensation. The same holds true for benefits.

You have to manage expectations; if applicants see a disconnect between what you say and what you offer in terms of salary, they will assume every other statement in your job description is open to question.

Smaller companies in particular cannot always offer top-end compensation and benefits. This leads me to the final idea for job descriptions: give them a value proposition. Why should a superstar work for you? If you don’t have the world’s best compensation package, what’s in it for them?

If you think about it, you probably have a compelling story. Maybe you are poised for exponential growth within three years. Maybe your office is the most enjoyable place to work in the city. Maybe your staff learns so many high-demand skills that people would be willing to pay you to work there.

Tell great applicants a great story, and they will jump at the chance to contact you to learn more. This is the outcome you’re looking for from your website job postings.