Guest Blog: Tips For Writing Job Descriptions That Attract Next Generation Talent

By Erin Lambertz posted 06-17-2021 05:06 AM

This month's guest blogger, Tammy Kim-Newman, focuses on how a job description can make all the difference in attracting the right talent. Read on for more...

Attracting talent begins with your job posting. It’s how your company makes a first impression and needs to be great if you want to attract the right talent.
Millennials and Generation Z are projected to make up 58% of the workforce by 2028 and what speaks to them is different from the past workforce. At the University of Waterloo, home to North America’s largest co-op program, we analyzed over 37,000 job descriptions posted on our recruitment platform. Based on our findings, here’s what you need to know to write a job description that appeals to young talent.

The Essentials

Job descriptions must include the job title, location, summary, responsibilities, skill requirements, compensation and benefits. Here’s our tips for each of these essential components:

  1. Job titles: Aim for accuracy versus creativity. Job titles such as ‘numbers ninja’ get lost in keyword searches versus more accurate titles like ‘accountant’.
  2. Location: Many organizations are practicing remote work and talent pools are more open. Be clear in your description about whether the position is remote, a hybrid or on-site.
  3. Job Summary: Highlight who you are as an organization and your community impact. Purpose and values in the workplace are more than buzz words.
  4. Job responsibilities: Be transparent, list what the applicant is accountable for and who they’ll work with. Consider giving a 30-, 60- and 90-day plan of what they’ll do in the role.
  5. Skill requirements: List all the core skills the ideal applicant needs to succeed in the role. Highlight skills that would be “nice to have” so applicants know what might give them an edge on the competition.
  6. Compensation and benefits: Including salary ranges is common and it helps companies to attract talent. This sets realistic expectations so that the applicant knows what to expect before applying and won’t be surprised or disappointed.

Pro tip: Do you offer free lunches? Mentoring programs or career development opportunities? Ping pong competitions on Fridays? Include any perks that your organization offers.

What Attracts Young Talent?

Here’s how to strengthen your job posting to appeal to Generation Z talent:
  • Include popular themes. A study conducted by the University of Waterloo’s Work-Learn Institute found job descriptions that included these themes received a higher number of applications:
    • Company culture
    • Programming languages
    • Food and games
    • Employer values
    • Compensation
    • Career development
  • Increase interest: Areas like learning opportunities, making an impact and linking academics to work, all increase engagement among young talent according to a recent study with Gen Z participants published by our Work-Learn Institute.
  • Inclusion matters. Highlight your diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategy because inclusive workplaces are important to applicants. Ensure that the skills and required experience in your posting include all backgrounds. Consider whether accommodations are offered and that you’ve included a diversity statement.
  • Show you care. Gen Z and Millennials want an employer that cares about their well-being. Highlight things like career mobility opportunities, programs for upskilling and reskilling, work-life balance, health and wellness programs and financial incentives.

Want to learn more? Check out our research and download a sample job description. Remember, getting young talent into your organization spurs fresh perspectives along with the technical skills you need in a tech-driven economy. Engaging and retaining top tech talent has never been more important.

About the Author:
Tammy Kim-Newman is a business developer and tech talent specialist at the University of Waterloo, Canada’s #1 university for Computer Science, Mathematics and Engineering (Maclean’s 2021 University Rankings). She has 10+ years supporting industry partners with their early talent strategies and is an advocate for work-integrated learning. If you have questions about early tech talent recruitment strategies, please reach out to Tammy Kim-Newman.


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