A man sits at a table in front of an open laptop. With one hand, he writes something in an open notebook.
Job seekers may be less likely to apply if the job posting is overloaded with requirements. To avoid scaring off potential candidates, stick to "must-have" requirements. — Getty Images/Prostock-Studio

The best job descriptions are those that find the right balance of detail and brevity. The job posting needs to be detailed enough to give applicants a clear picture of life at your business. But it should also be clear and straightforward about expectations, compensation and the next steps to apply. With this balance in mind, here are a few key elements that every job posting needs to attract great candidates and ensure they complete the application.

A headline with keywords

Every job posting needs a headline — and, like a news headline, the posting should be both eye-catching and easy to find. Use keywords that someone would use to naturally search for your job ad. Common job titles are more effective than made-up ones: For instance, “HR Director” is more likely to get views than “Chief Happiness Officer.”

In addition to the job title, include a few other descriptors that help your job posting stand out. What makes this opportunity exciting? Maybe you’re hiring to keep pace with sales growth, or maybe you’re opening a new location. Highlight something unique about the opportunity along with the job title. “HR Director at Fast-Growing Startup” is a great example.

[Read more: Looking to Hire Fresh Talent? The Key Is an Engaging Job Description]

Your company’s mission, values and vision

Job postings are not only a way to attract new candidates; they’re also part of your overall employer branding strategy. Job postings aren’t just read by those interested in the specific open role. Competitors, customers, existing and former employees and candidates who may be interested in other roles at your company may all review your job posting to understand more about your company culture.

According to research from Hubspot, “[A] good employer brand can reduce turnover rates by 28%, and cut your costs-per-hire by half. Additionally, 75% of active job seekers are likely to apply to a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand.”

A section about your company’s mission, vision and what makes your brand unique is an essential element in every job description. There’s no need to include your entire company history, but share a little bit about your culture, core beliefs and what your company stands for.

Perhaps the most important element of any job description: how to apply!

The role’s responsibilities

Writing the role’s responsibilities is tricky to get right. On one hand, you want to provide a clear picture of what this new employee will be expected to do. On the other hand, listing too many responsibilities makes the job seem “unfocused.”

You could also be inadvertently missing out on great candidates by writing a long list of responsibilities. Research shows that women won’t apply for jobs unless they feel 100% qualified. Therefore, prioritize the responsibilities that are most important in four to six clear, concise bullet points.

Requirements of the position

In this section, include the skills and experience that a candidate must have to perform the job successfully. Note that these are “must-have” skills: not a laundry list of every skill you can think of that would be nice to have. Again, the more skills you include, the more likely you are to discourage a well-qualified candidate from applying. “Be specific about the skills and education that are required for the role and where there’s some flexibility,” wrote the experts at Monster.com.

Benefits and compensation

Salary and benefits are the top two factors that a candidate considers before accepting a job offer. If you can be upfront about the salary range and benefits that your company offers in the job posting, you’re more likely to attract candidates who are a good fit. Be transparent with your perks. Not all benefits need to be monetary: flexible hours, remote working and training opportunities can all help your job posting stand out.

Important details and next steps

Perhaps the most important element of any job description: how to apply! Include these key details somewhere in your job posting:

  • Where the job is located.
  • The salary range.
  • Application deadline.
  • Application instructions.

Candidates often spend hours scrolling through job postings. The more transparent you can be about your selection process and criteria, the more likely you are to get tons of qualified applications.

[Read more: 9 Common Indeed Questions Answered]

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