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Quick Guide for Writing Descriptions


Be sure to check the bottom of this page for printable user guides.

So you've done it. You've created your position, defined its duties, and listed your qualifications and physical requirements. It's time to write the description as it will be listed in your posting.

A job description you put into Taleo will be different from the description you keep internally for the position. Your job description in Taleo is meant to sell the job to your candidates. Remember from our discussion on quality that our goal is to attract the candidates we want to apply and to dissuade candidates who aren't going to be good fits. Your description of your job is a big part of that.

At the very least, you will want to edit your requisition for grammar and style. By the time you submit your position description or listing, the job details may have passed through many hands. A quick review for edits and corrections will insure that your listing makes a positive impression.
  1. Scan for typos. Quality candidates are looking for a quality place to work. We expect good language skills from our candidates, and they should expect it from us.
  2. Check for verb-subject agreement and use one tense throughout. Don't switch back and forth from present to future tense, and make sure plural nouns are matched to plural verbs.
  3. Eliminate any lingo, OU abbreviations, and words like etc. External applicants won't know what we're talking about if we mention Crimson Corner, though they may be quite familiar with purchasing software.
  4. Keep language simple. Applicants from outside OU should be able to self-evaluate whether they are qualified.
  5. If you use a bulleted list, be consistent. If one bulleted item ends in a period, all should.
  6. If you're copying the description from a document, make sure all characters copied correctly. Bullets and special characters often turn into question marks when copied into a form.
  7. Check for current information and duplicate statements. Be sure the duties, location and supervisor are current. Eliminate repetitive concepts and duplicate phrases.
  8. Avoid the word “expert” and instead use terms such as "familiar with," "knowledge of," or "advanced skills with."
  9. Leave detailed procedures or office policies for the first day on the job.
Once you're sure your job description is technically correct, take the opportunity to advertise your department. Every work environment at the university should have something to recommend it, from state-of-the-art technology to a friendly work environment. Imagine inviting a friend or relative to apply for a job in your department. You have their best interests at heart. How would you convince them to come work with you?

Your final product should tell quality candidates a) what kind of work they will be doing for you, b) what they need to be able to do in order to succeed, and c) why they should want to work for you in the first place. If you're missing any one of these three things, your job description is incomplete.
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