How to Create a WOW Job Description

by Jeff Hyman, Founder of Recruit Rockstars

Recruiting Rockstars requires more than a mere job description; it requires a Job Invitation.

Rockstars have countless career opportunities—their phones ring off the hook. So, only a compelling invitation will prompt them to engage in a conversation about your organization. A well-written invitation accomplishes the most important requirement of this phase of the recruiting process: It expands the funnel of potential candidates.


Two years ago, I worked with a client who was head of HR for a California consumer foods company that brought in $100 million each year. Despite that fact, my client never had enough candidates for open positions. I asked her to email me three of her job descriptions.

They were awful.


I was half-asleep by the second one. I’m not picking on her, to be clear: Ninety-nine percent of job descriptions I see are awful. They’re dry, boring, and written entirely from the company’s perspective.


Just as strong marketing copy draws in potential customers, well-crafted Job Invitations draw in prospective employees. A strong Job Invitation should scream: “You’re going to love it here! You’re going to do the best work of your life! You’re going to have an opportunity to do things you care about! You’re going to be challenged!”


My client’s job descriptions were just the opposite. They focused on stringent requirements, which do nothing but eliminate people who might otherwise be a great fit. Bullet point after bullet point of, “You must have this, you must do that, don’t even bother applying if you haven’t….”


I encouraged my client to invest $100 for a copywriter to spend a few hours creating prose focused on the candidate, rather than her company. With her new Job Invitations, she was now inviting candidates to have a confidential conversation with her—so much more effective than boring job descriptions asking candidates to click the “Apply” button. In fact, this one change increased her candidate flow fivefold and shortened her recruiting cycle time by 30 percent.


A recent study by the Talent Board reveals that, during this initial recruitment phase, candidates are looking for three things:

  1. An understanding of the company’s culture.
  2. Insight into what it’s like to work there.
  3. A personal connection to the brand.

What Does a Job Invitation Look Like?

Stop. You are no longer crafting job descriptions. From now on, you are creating Job Invitations for candidates to have a confidential discussion with you about your company. You may have a specific role in mind for that person, but the conversation needs to start even broader than that. You’ve got to get them to the table. Remind yourself: record-low unemployment. Phone ringing off the hook from headhunters. How do you entice them to engage for fifteen minutes about what you can offer? Think like a marketer.


The Job Invitation is the critical first step toward that discussion. It must be well-written, creative, compelling, and candidate-focused. Don’t list requirements (which, as you’ll soon learn, aren’t predictive of much anyway). Requiring a candidate to have a particular college degree or a specific number of years of experience in a field only discourages potential Rockstars from applying. You’re missing out on the best!


Here’s proof. A 2014 Harvard Business Review study found that the majority of people will not apply for a job if they don’t meet 100 percent of a job description’s requirements. They take those requirements literally—they assume you’re serious about them. Ironically, every day, I see my clients hire folks completely contrary to the original requirements. In that case, why start with those mandatories in the first place? Each requirement weeds out another batch of people, narrowing the field.

In addition to creating an environment where great work can be done, think beyond the person as a mere candidate. Think of them first as a human—just like you and me. Flesh and blood. With worries, a mortgage to pay, kids to put through college, and a desire to make an impact on the world. Figure out how your company will enable that person to be self-actualized and find work-life integration. How does your company—its DNA and its leadership—allow people to have a great life, even outside of the work itself? The Job Invitation—and the ensuing discussion—must speak to the whole person, not just the candidate part of the person. This is part of why the formality of interviews is so deceptive—it belies the human vulnerabilities underneath. Both interviewer and candidate have their game faces on—it’s no wonder that one out of two new hires bombs.


Stability and job security are admittedly trickier; job tenure is decreasing, jobs are increasingly being replaced by outsourcing and automation, and the half-lives of companies are fleeting. Still, it’s worth remembering that this is something top candidates seek and why you must educate candidates on why your company will still exist in five years.


So, here are vital components that will catch the attention of Rockstars:

  • Be clear about your company’s identity and what it’s truly like to work there. Capture the spirit, the energy, and collective enthusiasm for its mission.
  • Be upfront about your non-negotiables, such as location, hours, and the like. But distinguish first what is literally non-negotiable and what isn’t. Presume that candidates will take you literally at your word. These must-haves should be few, because for the Rockstar candidate, I’ll bet that you’re willing to flex on a whole lot of things.
  • Ask your current Rockstars to help create a compelling message. Why did you join us? Why do you stay? What’s the most unique part of working here? How would you describe the experience? Their answers may surprise—or scare— you, but you need to hear them. Once you do, you can attract more Rockstars by using that information. I’ve learned to treat this like market research with prospective customers and use their actual words in the Job Invitation.
  • Hire a copywriter, engage your head of marketing, and include links to videos (they need not be professionally produced—in fact, the less slick, the better) of current Rockstars sharing their experience.
  • Give the position a creative title. Rockstars want a title that reflects the importance of their work. Give it to them. Titles matter, and people act in accordance with the station to which they believe they belong; better to have them rise to a higher station than sink to a lower one. Director of Customer Service? Blah. Why not “Head of Making Customers Love Us?” I’d be interested in that one.
  • Make the “Careers” section of your website engaging. It should tell the story of who you are and what people can expect if they join your team. And—for God’s sake—don’t include an “Apply Here” button. Rockstars who are currently employed, don’t apply. The button should say “Let’s Talk” or “Let’s Have a Conversation,” and stress confidentiality.


All of this takes work. But it will be worth it. If you’d like to see an example of the Job Invitations I use with my clients, I’ll give it to you for free. Just go to for the download.


When I tackle a search for one of my clients, the first thing we do is brainstorm all the reasons the job is a phenomenal opportunity. I pull it out of them. “Give me more, more, more. How do I sell this to a Rockstar?” (If the list is short, I'll pass on the search because we’ll never be able to bring Rockstars to the table.) The client is usually surprised by how great their opportunity actually is. We look for every compelling reason someone might want the role…things like equity, career path, the CEO’s track record, ability to work with a great manager, unique aspects of the culture, or the fact that it’s a high-growth industry. Ping pong tables no longer suffice. Dig deep to identify reasons that this role and your company will appeal to Rockstars.


I’ve learned that video is the perfect way to tell the story. Consider including a link from the invitation to a short video in which the hiring manager discusses the kind of person that she is seeking, and why the job is a great opportunity. Include a tour of the office—anything to help sell the company.

The invite doesn’t have to be long; if it takes more than a page or two to tell your company’s unique story, you don’t know what your story is. Solve that before crafting your Job Invitation.


All of this matters because you can’t consistently find Rockstars in a timely manner if you don’t have enough candidates in your pipeline at all times. The I’ll-know-it-when-I-see-it approach is doomed from the start. It will ultimately result in a narrow pipeline, which is the most common cause of failure at this stage of the process. If you don’t have a compelling Job Invitation, your pipeline will starve, and there won’t be a sufficient pool of people from which to choose.

Define the Job Value Proposition

Heads of marketing invest months researching and developing a Customer Value Proposition. Then, they obsessively hand-craft the words to tell that story. The same applies in recruiting Rockstars. You, your head of talent, and your leadership team must research and refine a compelling Job Value Proposition. Why should Rockstars want to “purchase” your job opportunity? Why should they choose to invest their precious years working for you?


There are two components to the Job Value Proposition. One aspect is that of your company—its mission, passion, growth trajectory, etc.—and why your offerings are more compelling than those of your candidate’s current employer.


The second aspect is that of the specific role. The position is secondary to the company, of course, because jobs have become so fluid. It’s important to show that the company is going places, and that the person who fills the job will be an essential part of the growth path. This isn’t just a job; it’s an investment in the ownership of something meaningful and rewarding. This is a bus you simply need to be on. And we’ll find the right seat together.


Rockstars want ownership. They want an ostensible, tangible thing that bears their signature. They need to make an impact. They crave a yardstick by which to be measured. That’s precisely why you want Rockstars on your team. While others shrink from responsibility, Rockstars demand it. So, ensure that the Job Value Proposition reflects that ownership—for what piece of the enterprise will they own or be held to account?

Place the Job in a Larger Context

I’ve read job descriptions where not only is the description awful, but the job itself is awful. A Rockstar won’t do that work. So, you seemingly have two choices: either settle by hiring a lesser talent or change the job. That’s a false dilemma. If you’re serious about creating a Rockstar culture, change the job. Twist it, morph it, expand it. Do something to make it a meaty and challenging role. This may mean adding responsibilities to a position, eliminating inconsequential or inessential aspects, or merging it with another job. It’s far better to redraw a job than to dilute—or, if you prefer, pollute—your company culture.


Even an assembly line job can be made more challenging and meaningful. Rockstars can measure performance on an assembly line; they can find the challenge of fixing a broken line or improving a functioning one. Instead of treating them like a product on that assembly line, treat them like someone who has an ownership stake in its evolution.


Whether it’s widgets or financial auditing or turning around a sales territory, your Rockstar candidate needs to know they are being sought for their creative problem-solving skills. They’ll be put in a challenging environment that will demand their best work to make things faster, better, smarter, and cheaper. Tie this particular job to the role of its department and to the larger company’s growth plan. Show your candidate the trajectory of their own career within the company. That’s how you woo a Rockstar every time.

Non-Negotiable DNA Requirements

Without the proper DNA match, your new hire has a zero percent chance of success. So, a non-match has no place in a candidate pipeline. Weed out mismatches from the beginning. Whatever words you’ve chosen to represent your DNA, clearly spell them out in the Job Invitation to alert candidates that these qualities are a must. (And that during the ensuing process, you’re going to thoroughly vet and reference check them, so let’s not waste each other’s time.)


Competencies are another piece of the Job Invitation. Rather than arcane requirements that aren’t predictive of success, we’ll include the five to ten competencies that are necessary to do the job well. As part of your Scorecard, you already developed the key candidate qualities. These belong in the Invitation.


This is time well spent. The Job Invitation is used throughout the recruiting process, from job posts to phone screen to interview to offer. It is the touchstone of the role.


In this chapter, we’ve discussed the need to “sell” both your company and the particular position to candidates. We’ve replaced job descriptions with Job Invitations, which are indispensable in recruiting. The invite explains the compelling reasons why a Rockstar would want to work with you in the job you’re offering. It explains what the role entails and how it fits into the company as a whole and plays a part in its growth strategy. It explains the non-negotiable DNA fit that you seek. It also notes the necessary competencies that a candidate will possess to succeed in that capacity.


In sum, the Job Invitation answers two questions: “What must the candidate offer the company?” and “What does the company offer the candidate?” Virtually every company’s job specs focus simply on the former. Don’t let your company be one of them.

Recall that Rockstars prize three things most:

  • A challenging environment that allows for their best work
  • Professional and personal life balance
  • Job stability

About the Author

Author Profile pic

Jeff Hyman launched his recruiting career at Heidrick & Struggles and Spencer Stuart, the preeminent global executive search firms. 

Today, he’s CEO of Chicago-based Recruit Rockstars. Along the way, Jeff has created four companies, backed by $50 million in venture capital. 

Based on his 25 years in recruiting, he authored the bestselling book Recruit Rockstars.

Jeff also hosts the five-star Recruit Rockstars Podcast and is featured frequently by CNBC, Inc, Fortune, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg. 

He holds degrees from Kellogg School of Management and The Wharton School. 

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