UPDATED BY
Rose Velazquez | Oct 27, 2022

A job description is a potential first point of contact with your next hire, and the requirements you lay out could compel them to apply — or deter them from doing so. In order to leverage job descriptions to your advantage and attract qualified applicants, you need to be thoughtful about the requirements you set.

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 job seekers can read about you online will factor into how they see you as a potential employer. Job requirements are no exception.

Read on to learn how to write successful job requirements and what to include in each.

 

What Are Job Requirements?

Job requirements are the skills, experiences 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 can’t be overlooked by either the employer or prospective employee.

For recruiters, job requirements are a helpful pre-selection tool. When written correctly, they can be used to quickly screen applicants and determine preliminary fit for a role. This minimizes the time dedicated to sourcing candidates and it 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 helping them quickly decide which jobs are worth applying to. Hitting the right balance when crafting job requirements can ensure the applicant pool isn’t too small or so large that it’s overwhelming. Job seekers might be deterred by a laundry list of must-have technical knowledge, for example, while job descriptions that are overly broad and don’t provide clarity on what the role actually does and who the employer is looking for might seem attractive to people who in reality don’t meet the qualifications.

 

Job Requirements Best Practices

The most important thing to know is that your job requirements are not a wishlist. Think of your job requirements as a list of the qualities you need to see in a candidate to consider them for a role. 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 (three to five years of relevant work experience). Otherwise, you may deter great, qualified candidates with three or four years of applicable experience from applying.

Inflated job requirements may negatively impact your other hiring goals too. Researchers have repeatedly found that women and candidates from underrepresented backgrounds are less likely than their counterparts to apply to roles when they don’t meet all the criteria. So inclusive job requirements are an important first step toward building a more diverse workforce.

 

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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 “soft” or interpersonal skills that are valuable to the role. For instance, a senior-level salesperson might need past experience working in your customer relationship management software suite (a hard skill), as well as the ability to communicate well and handle rejection (a soft skill).

What to Include in Job Requirements

  • Technical or “hard” skills.
  • “Soft” or interpersonal skills.
  • Types and years of work experience.
  • Education or equivalent experience required.
  • Certifications, licenses or accreditations needed.
  • Necessary travel.
  • Language.
  • Physical abilities.
  • Extended or uncommon working hours.

 

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

Interpersonal skills are arguably more important than hard skills — it’s harder to teach patience than it is the backend of a CRM. Job search platform ZipRecrutier found that, as of May 2022, communication was the most soft skill included among job requirements posted on its site in the past year.  Moreover, according to research by the Carnegie Mellon Foundation and Stanford Research Institute International, long-term success depends 75 percent on interpersonal skills and only 25 percent on technical know-how. 

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 you might not find a candidate who has everything you’re hoping for, and consider offering 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. Depending on the seniority level, a candidate may need several years of experience performing a specific job function to be successful in the role you’re hiring for. For entry or mid-level roles, candidates may only need one to four years of experience, whereas an executive should have several years, or even decades, of experience under their belt. 

Read More26 Recruitment Videos That Attract Qualified Candidates

 

EDUCATION OR EQUIVALENT EXPERIENCE REQUIREMENTS

You may require candidates to have a particular kind of degree. This requirement can take several different forms, specifying a specific field of study or a level of education received — or both. However, some employers offer a “years of equivalent experience” prerequisite to ensure they don’t 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. To avoid minimizing your applicant pool, though, you should consider offering work experience qualifications in addition to education requirements. Instead of making a four-year degree an absolute requirement, for instance, 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 — but they’re also common in information technology and database administration. Offering training certificate requirements as an alternate path in lieu of a degree or equivalent experience further widens your talent pool, increasing your chances of finding the best, most qualified candidate.

 

TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS

Clearly state whether the role requires regular in-state or out-of-state travel. A candidate may not have the resources to travel throughout the week — due to a lack of transportation options or availability of child care, for example — or be willing to spend 20 percent 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 a new hire is unhappy about how much time they spend on the road, it won’t be long until they start looking for new opportunities — and leave you back where you started with the recruiting process.

 

LANGUAGE 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. That said, consider what it would take to accommodate candidates who don’t meet your current physical ability requirements. If your administrative assistant spends a significant portion of each workday restocking the office kitchen and supply station, the ability to lift and move boxes may be a reasonable responsibility. But if physical tasks like these are infrequent and quick to do, consider whether someone else on your team can take over those duties.

 

EXTENDED HOURS OR WORKWEEK REQUIREMENTS

Explain if and when the employee will be expected to work beyond standard working hours or over the weekend. Extended workweeks are often in direct conflict with work-life balance, and some candidates may be unwilling or unable to work outside standard working hours. 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. 

“Some work during evenings and weekends required” doesn’t say much. “Candidates are expected to work 60-hour weeks, including Saturdays, in the final two weeks of the fiscal quarter” is better.

Further Reading10 Recruiting Email Templates for 2022

 

How to Write 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 tips for writing job requirements.

 

1. INCLUDE ESSENTIALS ONLY

Keep your list of job requirements to the bare minimum to avoid excluding potential candidates and limiting your applicant pool. Overdone job requirements are major sources of gender bias — men will apply to jobs where they meet 60 percent of the job requirements, while women are more likely to only apply if they meet every single requirement. 

 

2. BE CONCISE

Avoiding vague language is important to ensuring 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. Researchers at Duke University and the University of Waterloo have pointed to “dominant,” “competitive” and “confident” as examples of words that candidates unconsciously associate with gender, and ultimately end up deterring women from applying.

 

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 suggests 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.

 

Job Requirements Examples From Real Job Postings

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.

 

ONEMAIN FINANCIAL 

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 distinguishes the absolutely necessary requirements from employer preferences by including a “Bonus points if you have” section.

 

PARSYL

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. 

Why it works: Parsyl makes it clear which soft skills are key to success and appeal to its team. The “Qualities We Look For” section alludes to the team’s core values and positive work culture

 

Revenue.io

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: Revenue.io 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.

 Andreas Rekdal contributed reporting to this story.

 

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