How to write great a job description that makes top talent want to work with you

April 11, 2024

August 25, 2022

The team you hire will make or break your startup's chances of success.

As a founder, it's up to you to find and hire high slope people and senior autonomous leaders, the A players who will help you execute, fundraise, and build a team built to scale. One of your most important jobs is to convince the right people to join your mission.

Often, a candidate's first impression of your startup will be the job description (JD) they see. Top candidates have their pick of the litter when deciding who they'll work for, so you need to stand out and show top candidates why you're worth their time.

Without a clear job description, you'll attract the wrong candidates, make gut-based hires, and waste time and money.

If you want to hire the best, you have to prove that your company is best in class. Having a good job description is table stakes.


  • Job Descriptions (JDs) need to sell your company mission, vision, and clearly state what you need from the role you are hiring
  • JDs save you time in the recruiting process by attracting top talent and helping mismatched candidates self-select out 
  • A good JD is clear, avoids jargon, and tells a compelling story 
  • A strong JD sets you apart and sells your company to candidates before you interact with them 
  • A great JD that no one sees is just as bad as bad JD that top talent will ignore, and you should publish your JD anywhere candidates could see it 

Why job descriptions matter when recruiting top talent to your startup

If you can't define a role, you should not be hiring for it.

Job descriptions often get brushed off as just another box to check in the hiring process. Founders assume that candidates either don't really read them, or don't really care what they say.

While this can be true, it's mostly because candidates are used to seeing JDs full of empty buzzwords. Candidates have been trained to expect useless JDs, so a good JD can make you stand out.

Top executive search firms charge $5k-$10k to create and design best in class JDs, but you don't need to spend anywhere near that kind of money to create a JD that gets the attention of top candidates.

Every job description should:

  • Sell your mission. Describe the problem you're tackling and why anyone would want to be a part of solving it.
  • Lay down your vision. Show where the company is today, and paint the picture of where you're going.
  • State why the role is needed. Candidates want to know why you're hiring for the position, and what their day-to-day would look like if they join your team.
  • Sell your company and the role to top talent. The best candidates can work anywhere they want, give them reason to pick you.
  • Weed out mismatched candidates. Set clear expectations for the type of person you need so you don't have to filter through hundreds of resumes that aren't a fit.

Before writing a JD, you need to know what your company needs from the role you’re hiring for. Start by answering the 14 precruiting questions to know what you need to hire for. These answers will give you > 80% of the information you'll need to write a good JD.

How to structure a job description

Every JD should include the following three blocks of information:

Basic role details

  • Title of role. Remember to not just pick the same title you see other companies using. Pick a title that truly reflects the role and its level.
  • Job location. State where the role is based and whether it's a hybrid, remote, or in person position.
  • Time commitment. Make clear if it's a full time or part time position, and the kind of engagement expected from a successful candidate, like Truora does:

An example of a good summary view for multiple job listings, via Truora.

About us

  • About the company. Share your company's story, with links to articles or videos that highlight what you do.
  • About the business. Show what product or service you offer and how it helps customers and clients. Link to testimonials if you have them.
  • About the team. Mention the leadership team's experiences. If you have team member testimonials, link them.
  • Who the role reports to. Set clear expectations for who the role reports to. This isn't as important for junior roles, but becomes very important when hiring senior leaders.

R2 Capital makes clear the problem they are solving, the background of their team members, and several links for the candidate to learn more about them. 

Candidate & role expectations and perks

  • Key responsibilities. Detail the day-to-day of a successful candidate, and what the role will entail in terms of activities and deliverables. Avoid jargon, and keep the list as short as possible to accurately describe the most important parts of the role
  • Candidate profile. List any 'Must Have' and 'Nice to Have' attributes and experiences you're looking for.
  • Perks: Mention any of the perks that come with the role

Detailed doesn't have to mean extensive, and Ontop manages to write theirs without using filler words.

Best practices for writing a job description

You're not the first founder to write a JD, which means you don't have to reinvent the wheel. I've helped 100+ startups thinking about making early hires, and here's what I've learned:

  • Always start with the content. Top candidates care most about substance. While nice design can be the cherry on top to a good JD, it shouldn't be the priority. Most times, the best user experience is also the simplest.
  • Don't use buzzwords. Avoid adjectives and jargon that don't directly mean anything to your business.
  • Consider including salary ranges. This is a legal requirement in many US states, and there are both pros and cons to including salary ranges. I recommend including them when you have a good understanding of market comparables and no wiggle room in what you’ll pay. This can help filter out mismatched candidates, saving both your time and the candidates’. If you don’t include a salary range in your JD, make sure it’s a very early part of your hiring process.
  • Re-read your JD through a candidate's lens. Once you have a first draft, put yourself in the candidate's shoes and see if you have any questions. If anything is unclear, go back and clarify. 
  • Pick the right language. If you're hiring for a role where English is a requirement, the JD should be written in English. If the role will be entirely in Spanish or Portuguese, write it in that language.
  • Write SEO-friendly copy. Writing clearly and directly is still the goal, but most job searches start on Google. Optimize your JD for discoverability so the best candidates to find you. 
  • AI is your friend. AI writing is often overly verbose, but it makes for a good starting point. Instead of starting your JD from scratch, use the ChatGPTs of the world as thinking partners, refining and cutting until you reach a version that is crisp and authentic.

Job description template

Starting on a JD with a blank page can be daunting, so we put together a simple template you can copy, paste, tear down, and make your own. Personalize your JD, but make sure to include all the following key points.

Job Title: [Title of Role]

Job Location: [Location: In-Person/Hybrid/Remote]

About [Company Name]

[Company Name] is a [one liner of what your company does today company]. Our mission is to [mention your mission or overarching goal]. We founded [company name] to [the reason why you started the company], we have quickly become a leader in [mention any specific achievements or accolades, or your lofty goals]. Our team is [emphasize real, non-obvious values or principles], and we take pride in [highlight any unique aspects or accomplishments of your company]. Learn more about our journey and how we're making a difference at [provide a link to your company's website or relevant resources].

About the role

We are looking for a [Job Title] who's [one liner description of what you are hiring for]. In this role, you'll be reporting directly to [Direct Manager. For junior roles, you don't need this part].

You must be a [core description of the non-negotiable qualifications and personality traits]. To be successful in this role, you'll need to [description of key ability/skill needed for success]. 

About you

Must have's:

  • [non-negotiable qualification or skill]
  • [Another non-negotiable qualification or skill]

Nice to have's:

  • [Additional qualification or skill]
  • [Additional essential qualification or skill]

Why [Company name]?

[Provide brief blurbs about the leadership team, about the culture and environment, and about why this opportunity stands out. Link to any team member testimonials]

Job description examples

If a template is not enough, we've listed a few Career pages with job descriptions we really like – use them as benchmarks when writing your own.

Distribution: make sure the right candidates see your open roles

A job description is only as good as its reach, and there's no point in writing a good one if candidates never see it.

Once you have a candidate-ready JD, you need to get it in front of the right people. Candidates learn about open roles through many different channels, so make sure to reach as many as possible by: 

  • Posting every open role to your website's Work with us page
  • Keeping any 3rd party platforms you use, like Lever, Greenhouse, or BambooHR updated
  • Post your open roles on LinkedIn. If you don't want to pay for direct applications through LinkedIn Job Posting, make sure the link where candidates can find your application form very easy to find
  • Post about your open roles on social media
  • Reach out to your network to source candidates for important roles
  • Incentivize your team to source candidates from their networks with a referral bonus

While the above is general best practice, Talent Acquisition strategy isn't a one-size fits all game: 

Better job descriptions stand out to the best candidates

There is a huge gap between job seekers' and companies' perceptions of JDs. Ask most companies, and they say they do a good job. Ask job seekers, and they say it's a terrible experience. Per HR Drive, 72% of hiring managers say they provide clear job descriptions, while only 36% of candidates say the same.

Writing a clear and direct JD helps you stick out to the best candidates, and it serves as your company's business card in the first interaction talent will have with you. 

Just as the best fundraising decks tell a clear and compelling story that flows and makes potential investors jobs easier, good JDs should build a clear and compelling case for why the best candidates should consider joining your team, while repelling any unsuitable candidates. The right JD will start selling your company long before you've personally interacted with the candidate, helping scale your talent flywheel.

Once you've published and distributed your job description, you'll have officially wrapped up your precruiting process, and be ready to start interviewing

Ready to build your team? Design your hiring process: