Attracting candidates: how to develop a job description

To attract the best candidates, learn the requirements, particularities and fundamental questions when defining a role and writing a job description.

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5 minute read


❓Fundamental questions: Who are you? What you will do? How will you do it?

🖥What are the special requirements for remote work?

🕔What time difference is acceptable?

⌛Is time flexibility an option?

🤔Are there specific physical requirements?

📄The more specific the description, the better!

So you have made the decision to develop a company around a remote workforce. The next step in all cases is clarity of purpose and making sure you are setting your team up for success from the very start.

A key part of this is communicating your needs to your global workforce. This starts with recruitment and how you write an effective job description.

There are several questions you have to answer for your needs and yourself in order to clearly communicate the requirements of each position. None are particularly challenging by themselves, but each is an important part of finding the right people for your team.

The basics

Every job description begins with fundamental questions that are the same for any company. These include, but are not limited to:

  • A well-defined title, or description of the position – answering the question, “Who are you?”
  • The job requirements and duties, answering the question, “What you will do?”
  • Performance standards and measurements, answering the question, “How will you do it?”

In all cases, clarity is essential. It can be difficult to write a long description for use on job search sites, given space requirements. One trick that you can use is to refer all candidates to a webpage with considerably more detail, using the listing as a way of reeling in top talent. You can also use emails to communicate more detailed needs once candidates have responded to a job post.

No matter what, the special considerations for recruiting a global workforce have to come second to the basics of defining the position. A study conducted by Raju and Banerjee at manufacturing facilities in Pune, India found that clear, well-written job description with defined responsibilities boosted the productivity of workers by 27% on average. Other studies have shown that solid, measurable standards in the job description are key to productivity from the start.

It’s important to have the right people on your team. A good job description will catch their eye and help them self-identify if they are the right fit for your global workforce.

Are there special requirements for remote work?

The first and most obvious requirement is that your job description has to make it clear you are recruiting for a global workforce with remote locations. That may not be appealing to every candidate, and it needs to be said up front.

In the outline of a job description above, two key questions are missing. These are the “When?” and “Where?” that are very easy to answer in a fixed office. In any remote work, however, they are much more interesting questions that you have to carefully answer for yourself.

You can start by asking yourself these questions and using whatever method you prefer to communicate with any candidates who self-identify base on your job listing.

What time difference is acceptable?

Consideration of time zones is absolutely essential for a global workforce. Generally, team members who have to work closely together cannot be more than three time hours apart. It may be possible to have some teams in other parts of the world, but if communication between members or parts of the team are essential, they need to have at least a half a day of overlap.

It may be tempting to have team members work at night in order to align shifts on other sides of the world. That rarely works well. A 1996 Princeton University paper combining a number of studies showed that the consensus between them was that night shift workers are 18% less productive and 12% more prone to errors.

Is time flexibility an option?

Many workers need time flexibility, or the ability to work when their family schedule allows it. This is one of the main benefits of a global workforce. It can also be a benefit for attracting top talent. In a study by Mobile Progress Report, 54% of HR managers reported that they “occasionally miss out on the best job candidate because they cannot meet the candidates’ telework requirements.”

If this is an option for your global workforce, state that clearly! If there are good reasons why it is not, or there are restrictions on the flexibility, that also needs to be communicated in the detailed version of the job description. Many candidates need to know this when considering a position, and the sooner it can be handled, the better.

Are there specific physical requirements?

One of the great benefits of a global workforce is not having the expense of space for employees in one headquarter. But that doesn't mean there aren't needs for physical space, equipment, quiet time, or other considerations. It is important to understand exactly what you need and what you can be flexible with.

Similarly, there can be significant hardware requirements. If your employees need a high power computer, will they provide it, or will you? Do they need a 1GB internet connection? How important is the reliability of your hardware? All of these questions to be answered, and many will point to a need for physical space to hole the hardware and provide connections.

As an employer with a global workforce, you have options. One of them is to ask for a home office or rent part of a co-working space. A 2015 study by Harvard Business Review found that employees considered work more meaningful when they had a co-working space to go to. It can make up for the lack of physical connection that remote workers often feel.

If this is an option, and you are willing to pay for a space, it is important to state this up front. It may even be a part of a remote office in a city where you have several employees working closely together, even if they are far from the executive team.

A detailed, specific description

Your recruitment will be easier and more productive with a specific job description. You will get stronger candidates that self-identify and are more sure that the position fits their needs, cutting the number of job applications down. These candidates will be more productive and happier, given the open and direct line of communication established during their very first introduction to your company.

The needs of remote workers are somewhat different than those in a fixed location, but the pros outweigh the cons. It’s important to be open and honest from the start to achieve the transparency that makes remote work more productive and innovative.