Competing for the attention of top talent is a common challenge for companies, whether they embrace remote working or not. Embracing remote work, and building distributed teams expand your talent pool, but can lead to a flood of unqualified applications as well. When it comes to active job seekers, 80 to 90% only look at your job description before deciding to apply. So how do you write remote job descriptions that 1. encourage applications from top talent and 2. deter those who are not qualified for the role or not a good fit for your company?
The fundamental difference between a remote job description versus an on-site job description is that remote job descriptions need to communicate more requirements, such as time zones ,country limitations or countries they can hire as employees or contractors. Some of these requirements will be definite ‘deal breakers’ for you, so it’s important to follow a structure that makes these requirements crystal clear. Highlight your MUST HAVES to make it as easy as possible for candidates to realise if they are NOT a fit. You can also highlight the GOOD TO HAVE skills as bonus points to make the differentiation easier.
In addition, culture generally plays a key role in the success of remote companies. A good job description should reflect team culture and communication style, and highlight the values of the company.
At acework, we developed a unique structure for all job descriptions to facilitate top talent and companies to find each other. Here is a complete 8-step guide to writing the perfect remote job description, based on our experience and best practises followed by remote companies.
1. Craft a relevant ‘Job title’ for your job description
Use relevant keywords to accurately describe the role and make it easy to find through search engines. In the title, you should also state whether the role is full time, part-time or project-based, so people can immediately decide if the scope is relevant to them. If you have trouble setting the location as “remote”, use keywords that describe remote work: ‘remote job’, ‘work from home’, ‘telecommute’, or ‘home-based opportunity’.
2. List all specific ‘Remote work requirements’
By stating “remote” as location, you will attract people from all over the world to your open position. Make sure to be transparent, who exactly you are looking for. US-based candidates only? People only in specific time zones, or willing to work specific hours to ensure overlap with the rest of the team? Clearly explain what is required and what is expected of candidates. Can you hire in specific countries, but also offer a contract-based opportunity to people in other countries? Do you require frequent or occasional travel? Whether that’s to headquarters or a company meetup, some people are open to it, others are not. Be clear about the restrictions of your remote work policies, and you will notice an increase in relevant applications.
3. Explain what the person will do in ‘Responsibilities’
Use this opportunity to align the open position with the company’s goals, and why you stand out from your competitors. Top talent will read this section and decide whether to apply or not based on the opportunity you offer them. In many ways, this makes the responsibilities a key driver of high quality applicants in your candidate funnel.
4. Describe the ideal candidate in ‘Requirements’
To avoid a long list of bullet points, break up this section in “Must Haves” and “Nice to haves”. By highlighting your deal breakers as must have skills or experience, you will see a lot of unqualified applications disappear. At the same time, it’s important to focus on both hard and soft skills. Those can be either related directly to the job, or the working environment. Successful remote work requires a specific set of soft skills.
5. Demonstrate how you include remote workers with ‘Benefit and Perks’
Free beer on Fridays, or ping pong tables. Those are usually listed at office-based companies. If you want to attract remote talent to your roles, you need to show your commitment to them as equal team members. State benefits like healthcare for employees and contractors if you offer it. Remote workers also like to see if you will provide them with hardware and a home office or co-working allowance. Annual gatherings, vacation days, as well as learning and development stipends, are also common benefits in distributed companies.
6. Shine your light: ‘About us’ or ‘Company Values’
Outline your remote work journey and what kind of a remote company you are. Do only a few employees work remotely, or is the entire company distributed? In how many time zones and with how many nationalities do you work?
What values drive your work as a team? As mentioned before, culture is key for distributed companies. Culture stems from the values you set as a company so be proud of it and let everyone know. While you want to demonstrate your unique culture, make sure to use inclusive language. For example, use both ‘masculine and feminine’ words to foster gender diversity. Tools like Textio can support you to remove bias and reach your diversity goals in hiring.
In addition, this section also is the right place to describe your ways of working. Mention the tools you use to collaborate, communicate and document your work in a remote environment.
7. Introduce the team members
Helpscout, does a great job introducing future team members right in the job description. This gives candidates an opportunity to research their potential colleagues to prepare for the interview and see if they can imagine themselves amongst them.
While some companies post generic testimonials of current employees on the main career page, Automattic also uses individual videos on each job posting. A team member describes life in that role, their history at the company and what they look for in their future colleagues. It allows a candidate to get to know their future team members on a personal level and can be a great way for candidates to build a rapport during the interview.
8. Briefly outline the next steps in the ‘Interview process’
Hiring processes have gotten more elaborate over the past years. Especially for remote roles it is not uncommon to have 4 or 5 rounds of interviews and tests until you make your final decision.Komoot does a great job in highlighting interview processes along with answering few FAQ’s to set the right expectations for all applicants by outlining the next steps in the hiring process. The goal is to maintain the remote work culture of the company by being transparent through the recruitment process. If you have a clear timeline, you can communicate this as well. Companies with a large influx of candidates should consider limiting the initial application period to a few weeks, and then focus exclusively on interviews and later stages in the hiring process.
9. Pro Tip: Request answers to job-specific screening questions in your job description
This is one of the best practices at acework. We encourage all companies to define specific questions for each open position. Then, companies can decide whether they would like to receive the answers written or recorded as short videos. This serves two purposes:
1. Check if the candidate has read the job description properly
2. Get to know applicants better, before you invite them to interview
This saves recruiters a lot of time wasted on initial screening calls. You can directly assess candidates on their preparedness, how well they have understood the requirements for the role, and if they are a potential fit for the team from a personality perspective. Doist makes sure to ask interested candidates to answer a few screening questions as a part of their application process as it gives them a better insight to your work experience.
Download the ‘remote-ready’ job description and instantly generate higher-quality candidates through your career page. Looking to hire remote talent you won’t find on regular job boards? Register your company and start hiring here.
If you want to get into a remote career or are looking for a new opportunity, use our candidate sign-up to become a member.