How to Write Job Requirements
A good recruiter knows that every public-facing piece of content is an integral part of their employer branding strategy. From employee spotlights to thought leadership pieces, everything factors into how job seekers rank you as a potential employer. Job requirements are no exception.
A job description is a potential first point of contact with your next hire, and the requirements you lay out could either deter or compel them to apply. In order to leverage job descriptions to your advantage and attract qualified applicants, you need to be thoughtful about the requirements you set. Read on to learn how to write successful job requirements and what to include in each.
Table of Contents
- What Are Job Requirements?
- What to Include in Job Requirements
- Tips for Writing Job Requirements
- Examples of Good Job Requirements
What are Job Requirements?
Job requirements are the skills, experience and qualities an employer deems necessary for a candidate to be considered for a role. Job requirements — also called prerequisites or qualifications — are an important part of any job description and cannot be overlooked by either the employer or prospective employee.
As a recruiter, job requirements are a helpful pre-selection tool. When done correctly, they can be used to quickly screen applicants and determine preliminary fit for a role. This minimizes the time dedicated to sourcing candidates as well as improves the quality and relevancy of your applicant pool. Job requirements also help prospects assess their fit for the role, which can save them time in the long run by being able to quickly decide which jobs are worth applying to.
The most important thing to know is that a list of job requirements is not a wishlist. Think of your job requirements as a list of the qualities you’re willing to accept. For example, if you’d like a candidate with five years of relevant experience, but you’re willing to hire one with three years of experience, your job requirements should list the latter, or a range of years of experience (3-5). Otherwise, you may deter great, qualified candidates with three or four years of applicable experience from applying.
What to Include in Job Requirements
Job requirements should include all the technical or hard skills needed to carry out job responsibilities, as well as any qualities or soft skills that are valuable to the role. For example, a sales person will need knowledge of your CRM — a hard skill — as well as the ability to communicate well and handle rejection, a soft skill.
Remember, this is a list of must-have qualities, so only include the bare minimum. Additionally, job requirements must directly align with your candidate persona in order to serve as a reference point for evaluating applicants. Before you can even think about writing a list of job requirements, work with the hiring manager to finalize your candidate persona.
Get specific about the type of individual you’re looking for, the qualities they should uphold and the skills they must have. From there, you can begin to hone in on the core aspects of your candidate persona to include the following within your job requirements.
What to Include in Job Requirements
- Technical or hard skills
- Soft skills
- Types and years of work experience
- Education or equivalent experience
- Certifications, licences or accreditations
- Physical abilities
- Extended hours or work week
Technical or hard skills requirements
What technical skills are needed to succeed in this role? Which are you willing to train for? The skills and expertise that you can’t provide on-the-job training for should be listed in your job requirements. Omit skills that you are willing and able to teach from your job requirements. Otherwise, you may miss out on a truly great candidate — almost a quarter of professionals won’t apply to a role if they don’t match the requirements.
Soft skills requirements
Soft skills are arguably more important than hard skills — it’s harder to teach patience than it is the backend of a CRM, the U.S. is currently short 1.4 million people with the necessary soft skills. Not only that, but 75% of long-term job success depends on people skills.
Define specific qualities an employee needs to be successful in your role and pay close attention to whether or not candidates demonstrate these characteristics during the interview process. However, understand that the skills gap is real and offer employee development opportunities to help budding professionals grow their skill sets.
Years of work experience requirements
While there are certain skills you can provide training for during the onboarding process, you can’t teach a new hire everything they need to know. Candidates should possess a certain number of years of experience performing a particular job function to be successful, depending on the seniority level. For entry or mid-level roles, candidates may only need one to four years of experience, whereas an executive should have several years or a decade of experience under their belt.
Education or equivalent experience requirements
You may require candidates to have a particular degree, both in terms of field and level of education received. However, some employers offer a “years of equivalent experience” prerequisite as to not disqualify strong candidates who did not obtain a certain level of education.
For example, software engineers typically need an engineering degree from a four-year university, while a software developer or programmer — often self-taught professionals — may need a certification or a few years of work experience in a comparable role.
Again, your requirements will vary depending on the role’s level of seniority. However, to avoid minimizing your applicant pool, offer work experience qualifications in addition to education requirements. For example, you may require that a software developer have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or two to three years of experience working as a developer.
Certifications, licenses or accreditations requirements
For highly technical roles that require extensive training, you can require that candidates have completed a training program or certification process. Licenses, accreditations and certifications are most common in healthcare roles — think of board certifications. However, offering training certificate requirements in lieu of a degree or equivalent experience further widens your talent pool, increasing your chances of finding the best, qualified candidate.
Clearly state whether the role requires regular in-state or out-of-state travel. Candidates may not have the resources to travel throughout the week — i.e. a car and affordable parking options — or be willing to spend 20% of their year traveling across the country. Frequent travel opportunities are either a huge perk or significant burden to prospective employees, so be fully transparent regarding travel requirements.
If language fluency is absolutely necessary to perform the role, display this information prominently within your job requirements. You don’t want to waste your time interviewing candidates who aren’t even viable options for the role, nor do job seekers want to waste their time applying to a role they’re not qualified for. Language requirements are significant barriers to candidacy, so make sure job seekers are fully aware of any necessary language proficiencies.
Physical ability requirements
For manual or physically-taxing roles, set specific mobility and ability requirements. Not everyone is able — or wants — to work a physically demanding job so clearly explain what is expected of candidates in terms of their physical abilities.
Extended hours or work week requirements
Explain if and when the employee will be expected to work beyond standard working hours or over the weekend. Extended work weeks are a direct conflict with work-life balance that some candidates may be unwilling or unable to compromise. Be as specific as possible when stating these requirements, down to the date when applicable. At the very least, mention the frequency of your extended-hours requirements.
Tips for Writing Job Requirements
The job requirements section of a job posting is the opportune time to communicate your expectations as a potential employer and showcase your personality. It’s the first step in pitching your employee value proposition (EVP), so it’s important to craft your list of requirements with care. Now that you know what to include, let’s review some best practices for writing job requirements.
1. Include essentials only
We can’t overstate this. Keep your list of job requirements to the bare minimum to avoid excluding potential candidates and limiting your applicant pool. Overdone job requirements are huge sources of gender bias — men will apply to jobs where they meet 60% of the job requirements, while women are more likely to apply if they meet every single requirement.
2. Be concise
Avoid vague language to ensure the applicants you receive fit the exact candidate profile you need. If job seekers are confused by your requirements, they may be more likely to take a chance and apply, even if they’re unqualified. That means more application materials for you to review, which can extend your recruitment process and increase your cost-per-hire.
Also, know that certain language is inherently gendered, so make sure to run your job requirements through a gender decoder to remove any biased language.
3. Use bullet points
Listing job requirements as bullet points will help avoid vague or ambiguous wording and highlight exactly what you’re looking for. Job seekers are more likely to read a quick-hit list of qualifications than they are a paragraph or text, so a bulleted list of job requirements improves your odds of receiving only informed, qualified applicants.
4. Adhere to your employer brand voice and tone
A cut and dry list of qualifications will signal to job seekers that you’re a formal, buttoned-up employer. Conversely, a job requirements list that includes some elements of personality will help showcase your unique organizational culture. How you communicate with job seekers suggest how you’ll behave as their employer, so ensure that your voice and tone aligns with your employer brand.
5. Include a “Nice to Haves” list
Further highlight your candidate persona within your job requirements by including a list of “Nice-to-Have Qualities” within the job posting. This is the section in which you should describe your ideal candidate and outline your qualification preferences.
If your ideal candidate has a Master’s of Business Administration, but your minimum education requirement is a bachelor’s degree in economics, your job requirement section should list the bachelor’s degree and the MBA can be filed under “Nice to Haves.” This additional information will strongly encourage ideal candidates to apply without intimidating other prospects.
Examples of Good Job Requirements
To help you put this knowledge into practice, we’ve rounded up a few strong examples of job requirements. Review the examples below before you start writing.
Open Role: QA Software Engineer in Test
Skills and experience you’ll need
We seek at least 1 year of experience testing web applications. We also seek the following:
- Understanding of RSpec, Capybara, and Selenium WebDriver
- Ability to set up and maintain local testing environments with minimal assistance
- Experience creating actionable bug reports and effectively communicate to development
- Proficient understanding of SQL and writing SQL queries to validate data
- Ability to monitor log files and troubleshoot based on stack traces before escalating
Bonus points if you have
- Experience working with Jenkins and/or CircleCI
- Experience utilizing the Page Object model in automated tests
- Experience working in a startup environment
Why it Works: The team at OneMain Financial clearly distinguished the absolutely necessary requirements from employer preferences by including a “Bonus points if you have” section.
Open Role: Data Scientist
Qualities We Look For:
- Mission -- You are highly motivated and inspired by our mission to improve health and save money for people across the globe.
- Grit -- You bring determination and a strong will to the challenges and opportunities that come with being at an early stage startup.
- High Standards -- You take pride in your work and are highly accountable.
- Curiosity -- You are energized by finding creative solutions to new situations.
- Self-Starter -- You are ambitious and take initiative, and thrive in environments with minimal supervision.
Open Role: Enterprise Account Executive
Who You Are:
- 5+ years of enterprise sales experience in a B2B SaaS vertical
- Proven track record demonstrating ability to engage and use a consultative approach to sell to CXO-Level sales executives
- Collaborative approach
- Proven track record prospecting and generating business
- Proven track record exceeding quota
- Experience working with executive-level customers at Fortune 5000 companies
- Passion, enthusiasm, energy, humor, and the ability to convey this through phone and email communications
- Passion for selling and sales technologies - a student of the game
Why it Works: ringDNA puts the candidate in control by titling its job requirements “Who You Are.” This not only makes it easier for the job seeker to imagine themselves in the role, but compels them to do so. It’s an effective example of selling while you assess.
How you write your job requirements could be the difference between a smooth round of recruiting that leads to quality hires and a painstaking process with a mounting cost-of-vacancy. Devote the time and attention necessary to craft a fair, concise list of job requirements. For more help, consult our database of job description examples.