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Writing an engaging job description for graduates

A job description aimed at graduates needs to make a good first impression and is your chance to showcase your employer brand. Learn how to make your descriptions as engaging as possible with our expert advice.

According to a recent study by High Fliers Research, in 2019, the UK’s top employers increased their graduate vacancies by 9.1% – the highest annual rise in graduate recruitment since 2010. With competition to attract graduates at an all-time high, employers need to pull out all the stops when it comes to writing an engaging job description.

A job description is often the first impression a graduate will have of a company. And first impressions count. As a hiring manager or recruiter, it can be tempting to follow the same old template when writing descriptions for graduates.

However, to engage with those new to the workforce, a job description needs to provide more than a list of duties and responsibilities. An engaging description should be inclusive, use the right language and prompt the right type of candidate to apply.

Let’s take a closer look at how to write an engaging job description for graduates:

The structure

The structure of a description is the foundation of how the role will be presented to graduates. At Milkround, we see a lot of graduate job descriptions and over the years, we’ve identified what we think works well. As a starting point, we’d recommend trying the following outline:

  • Job title – the position that graduates are applying for. Keep this clear and simple.
  • At a glance – a summary of the location, salary, company and date the job was posted.
  • Job summary – a description of the role and how graduates will benefit from applying.
  • Job requirements – all essential skills, qualifications and experience, including any desirable criteria.
  • Salary and benefits – how much graduates can expect to earn, details of salary progression and any company benefits.
  • Company description – an overview of what the company does and what industries it operates in. This is also your chance to introduce your company culture.
  • Application process – outline how to apply and the interview stages in simple terms. Our research finds that 67% of graduates are discouraged from applying to a role due to complicated recruitment processes.

This outline provides graduates with all the essential information up front in the ‘At a glance’ section. It then puts their wants and desires to the fore by describing the role and how they’ll benefit from applying.

The company description is included towards the end to reinforce authority and showcase its achievements. The description ends with an overview of the recruitment process and how long candidates can expect to wait to hear about the outcome of their application.

Be specific about the requirements

In order to attract the best graduates, companies need to clearly define what their expectations are and who they envisage being an ideal candidate. When a graduate reads a job description, they should be able to ascertain quickly, whether they have the skills, qualifications and experience required for the role.

It’s also important to distinguish between essential and desirable criteria. Although a company may prefer a candidate with industry experience, if it’s only a preference, this should be listed as desirable. The key is to be specific with the essential criteria but not discouraging if a candidate doesn’t tick every box. Remember that for many graduates, this will be their first full-time job, so be mindful and realistic when asking for experience within the requirements.

An engaging job description should also help candidates visualise what it will be like working for the company. By breaking the description down into typical duties and being specific about the tasks, graduates will be better able to picture themselves doing the job.

When it comes to summarising tasks, it can be helpful to speak with current employees who are already doing the job to get a realistic overview of the role.

Explain how the role will benefit graduates

Showcasing a company’s achievements may help establish authority, but what graduates really want to know is what’s in it for them.

For example, if the role is a good stepping stone to other career opportunities, this should be highlighted as a selling point. If previous employees in the role have gone on to senior positions, then including a brief case study could encourage a hesitant applicant to apply. Previous research has shown that Gen Z only look to stay in their first graduate role for two years. Helping them to visualise their career path within your company will also attract more graduates to apply.

When outlining the benefits of the role, it’s also important to make an emotional connection with the applicant. For example, describing how a graduate might feel working in the role can help encourage them to apply. If the role offers great job satisfaction, a gym membership, or other perks, try to tie these benefits to feelings of wellbeing and achievement.

For advice on how to present a company in the best light, take a look at our article; How to showcase your employer brand.

Use inclusive language

An engaging job description needs to use inclusive language. A description that uses too many gender-specific words or phrasings can alienate potential applicants. Tools like Totaljobs Gender Bias Decoder can help ensure that the language and tone used in a description remains neutral.

Similarly, Milkround’s own Jargon Decoder tool can help ensure that the language used in job descriptions is clear and conscise and doesn’t use too many industry buzzwords.

Companies should also consider the language they use in the job title itself. For example, if the role is well-suited to a new graduate, then a title like ‘Graduate Marketing Assistant’ would be more effective than ‘Marketing Specialist’, which suggests experience is required.

Likewise, although non-traditional job titles like ‘Rockstar’, ‘Guru and ‘Ninja’ may be appealing to some, they could equally alienate others and be perceived as discriminatory.

For more top tips on how to increase diversity and inclusion, check out Milkround’s report, Attracting a diverse graduate workforce.

Find out more about how advertising your graduate roles on Milkround can accelerate your hiring.