How To Write Better Job Descriptions: HR Vocabulary

This Talaera English Expert Series focuses on HR and recruiting. In this four-part series, we’ll look at simple ways to quickly improve your English for recruiting, interviews, negotiating, and onboarding.

Who is this for?

This series is mainly for non-native English speakers working in HR. If you need to write compelling job descriptions, conduct interviews, or onboard new candidates, then this guide is for you.

Part one of this series is all about writing better job descriptions. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to get parts two, three and four straight to your inbox.

This guide will:

  • improve your job description writing

  • increase your language confidence

  • help you avoid common mistakes

  • give you a ton of useful vocabulary for job postings

As an HR manager in a global economy, you need to attract candidates from all over the world. But as a non-native speaker, how can you ensure that your job descriptions are both compelling and effective? This guide will help you improve your writing skills and attract the right applicants.

Contents

  • FAQs from our HR students

  • Examples of great job descriptions

  • Vocabulary (150 adjectives, 35 verbs, 18 phrases) (PDF here)

  • Putting it all together

FAQs from our HR students

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Let’s start by answering some of the most frequently asked questions from some of our students who are active in the world of HR.

1. How can I keep my sentences shorter or say the same in fewer words?

Let verbs do the work. Verbs drive the action forward in a concise way (see our vocab section below for a useful list of action verbs). For each key requirement of your job posting, try to focus on the specific action. Try you’re great at + ing-form of the verb.


You’re great at:

  • working remotely

  • solving problems

  • resolving support issues

This idea also works from the 'we' perspective: We are looking for someone is great at marketing (ing form).

Top tip: Remember to use a colon to introduce the list and skip the capital and period for the list items if they are not whole sentences.

But avoid overusing the verb to be. Look at this example:

Our main office is located in Sydney. Our customer support team is responsible for resolving technical issues with the product. There will be some assignments in the Berlin office, and you will be part of a dynamic team.

Grammatically this is fine, but always using the same verb is a little boring. Let’s try rewriting this with different verbs.

Want to know what it’s like to work at our main office in Sydney? You’ll fit right in if you love to:

  • resolve technical support issues

  • contribute to our dynamic team

  • travel to Berlin for assignments

This rewrite replaces all to be verbs with more interesting choices. Try it yourself by using some of the set phrases and action verbs from our vocab list below.

2. How can I avoid common spelling and grammar mistakes?

We highly recommend using Grammarly. It’s a free online spell checker and will catch a lot of your mistakes. You can even set it to check for American vs. British spelling conventions.

Another tip is to create a template library for your most common tasks. Before drafting a job description from scratch, check to see if one that you can adapt. Often small tweaks can make an old job post sound brand new.

Check out this post on commonly confused words in English. It’ll help you understand the differences of commonly confused similar words such as assure/ensure/insure and affect/effect.

Finally, you can always get a friend to check your writing for you – four eyes are usually better than two.

Test Our Online English Sessions For Free

3. How formal or casual should my writing be?

In English, overly formal job posts tend to scare candidates away. We recommend a business casual tone. When replying to applicants, it is almost always fine to address candidates by their first name.

  • Hi John, thanks for applying.

Rather than:

  • Dear Mr. Smith, we are grateful that you applied to this position.

Try to avoid third-person forms in job posts; they are too formal and distanced.

This example is in the third person (he/she/it/they) and way too formal:

  • The successful candidate will be a hard-working, dedicated, self-starter.

Better:

  • Are you a hard-working, dedicated, self-starter? Join our team by applying today.

Or you can also write it from the 'we' perspective:

  • We are looking for a hard-working, dedicated self-starter to join our team.

A great way to test your writing is to read it out loud. Does it sound like something you would say? If not, try to write the job post to reflect the way you speak. This will sound more natural and less formal.

4. When I address a potential candidate, should I say 'I' or 'we'?

When talking about the company as a whole, you need to use 'we,' 'our' and 'us.'

Examples:

  • Working for us is fun because…
  • We offer many benefits.
  • Our company motto is….

When replying to candidates it is also usual to use the ‘we’ form.

  • We have scheduled an interview for next Thursday.

When writing about key requirements use either ‘you’ or ‘we’ perspective.

  • You need to have three years' experience
  • We are looking for a Python programmer with three years' experience.

5. How can I make my writing more engaging for candidates?

A.  Structure your sentences and paragraphs

Stopping and thinking about the structure of your text can really boost your writing skills. Try starting your paragraph with a benefit, following with something unique or personal about your company and closing with requirements.


(Question) > Benefit > Personal/Unique > Requirements


Would you like to work for a company who is as passionate about data as you are? At Numbers Ltd. our flat hierarchy allows you to define your own research projects and set your own goals. If you have more than 2 years' experience in data science and a propensity for python, get in touch.


First, we highlight a benefit of the company. They are passionate about data. Next, we show something unique about the company the flat hierarchy. Finally, we close with the requirements of the job. This keeps the tone of the paragraph much more friendly and less boring.


B. Ask questions

Using questions in job posts keeps your message interesting.

  • Do you think you have what it takes?
  • Are you great at problem-solving?
  • Do you have more than three years' experience in PHP?
  • Do you thrive in a dynamic work environment?

Try not to use more than one or two questions per paragraph.

C. Use the active voice

These examples are in the passive voice:

  • The markets are managed by
  • Our conversions are optimized by our predictive marketing team

To convert your passives to the active voice, ask who is performing the action? Make this person your subject and key presto - active voice.

Instead:

  • Our sales team manages the markets...
  • Our predictive marketing team optimizes our conversion rates...

D. Avoid vagueness

Avoid words like ‘quite,’ ‘maybe,’ ‘some,’ 'various,' and 'diverse.' They weaken the meaning of what you're trying to say.

  • You will be responsible for diverse IT projects

Better:

  • You will be responsible for IT projects in Java, Python, and PHP.

Or if you are unable to specify, at least use a different adjective:

  • You will be responsible for data-driven/challenging/advanced IT projects

Following these tips will make your writing more engaging to candidates.

Learn more about Business English training for your team

Examples of well-written job descriptions

Talaera Job Descriptions

Let’s take a look at some well-written job descriptions that use some or all of the tips above.

Github Job Description:

Talaera HR Expert Series - GitHub

This example from Github states formal requirements while still being humorous and fun.

  • Use of 'we' to refer to the company and 'you' to refer to the candidate.

  • Bullet points are kept short which makes them easier to read and understand.

  • Use of humor balances the paragraph. On the one hand, you have the key requirements 'swiftness' and 'accuracy balanced by the humorous number of 'exclamation points' you receive.

Pizza Hut Job Description:

Talaera HR Expert Series - PizzaHut

Why is it good?

  • Very benefit-orientated independence, fun, making friends, earning extra cash.

  • Lots of action verbs driving the action forward.

  • Personal with lots of 'you' forms.

Scope AR Job Description

Talaera HR Expert Series

Why is it good?

  • Lots of 'you' forms, focus on benefits, lots of verbs driving the action forward and keeping it interesting.

  • Use of questions makes the text more engaging.

  • Bonus point for creative use of key qualities.

Job Description Vocabulary: Key Phrases, Verbs, and Adjectives

Download Word List in PDF

We have compiled a list of useful words and phrases to help you write better job descriptions. If you want to keep this word list as a reference, download it as a PDF here.

This word list contains 150 adjectives, around 35 useful verbs, and 18 interchangeable set phrases.

How to use this word list:

These phrases are interchangeable. You can replace the brackets with adjectives and verbs to create many more variations. To do so, check out our verb and adjective lists below and give it a try!

18 Awesome Interchangeable Phrases for Job Descriptions

Use these phrases to begin your job description by stating who you are looking for. Remember to try out the verbs and adjectives in our word lists below!

Searching for the candidate

Use these phrases to describe the person you are looking for:

1. We are looking for/searching for a candidate who is [+ ADJ]

We are looking for a candidate who is amicable, hardworking, and imaginative.

2. We are looking for a candidate who can + [VERB]

We are looking for a candidate who can coordinate international marketing campaigns.

3. Are you great at + [VERB ing form]?

Are you great at reaching out to clients?

4. Are you passionate about + [VERB ing form]?

Are you passionate about analyzing data?

5. Do you love + [VERB ing form]?

Do you love solving problems?

6. Are you + [ADJ]

Are you creative, logical and hard-working?

Describing the company

Use these phrases to describe your company to potential candidates.

7. We are a + [ADJ] company/startup/agency that + [VERB]

We are a growing startup that compiles research.

8. Our + [ADJ] company + [VERB]

Our dynamic marketing agency monitors social media accounts for our clients.

9. Would you like to work for a company that is + [ADJ]?

Would you like to work for a company that is innovative, creative and dynamic?

10. Are you interested in working for a company that [verb phrase]?

Are you interested in working for a company that tests user experience in web applications?

Describing the Job

Use these phrases to describe the activities and responsibilities of the role:

11. As [job title] you will be responsible for + [VERB ing]

As a marketing manager, you will be responsible for projecting figures for each quarter


12. One of your key responsibilities will be [VERB ing form]

One of your key responsibilities will be delegating tasks to your team of sales rep.


13. You’ve got:

  • ADJ + NOUN

  • ADJ + NOUN

  • ADJ + NOUN

You’ve got:

  • accomplished PHP knowledge

  • astute problem-solving abilities

  • great organizational skills

14. You love to:

  • VERB + NOUN 

You love to:

  • solve problems

  • compile data

  • work as a team

15. If you love + [VERB ing], then you’ll fit right in our [ADJ] team of + [NOUN]

If you love designing new apps, you’ll fit right in our imaginative team of Android developers.

CTA / Apply

Use these phrases to tell candidates to apply:

16. If you would like to be part of our [ADJ] team, apply today by + [VERB ing]

If you would like to be part of our creative team, apply today by sending us an email.

17. Sound like you? Then, send your resumé/CV and cover letter to [email address.]

Sound like you? Then, send your resumé and cover letter to apply@thiscompany.com

18. If this sounds like you, then apply by clicking the button below.

Try some of these phrases out with the adjectives and verbs below!

140 Most Effective Adjectives for Your Job Description

Below we have collected around 140 of the most useful adjectives to help you write more awesome job descriptions. Adjectives describe qualities of the candidate you are searching for. They can also describe your company as well. They are ordered by sections such as creativity, effectiveness and enthusiasm. Each word is also linked to a dictionary definition. Check it out!

Analytical/Critical Thinking

Looking for a candidate that is good at solving problems? Try these adjectives:

 

astute

insightful

methodical

practical

calculating

intelligent

meticulous

shrewd

complex

investigative

objective

strategic

discerning

logical

perceptive

thoughtful


Creativity & Innovation

Need someone who can think outside of the box? Or do you want to describe your innovative company? Try these words:

cutting-edge

imaginative

novel

sophisticated

elegant

ingenious

progressive

unique

first-class

innovative

revolutionary

unprecedented

groundbreaking

inventive

robust

world-class

 

Effectiveness

These adjectives describe someone who can get the job done. Use these to emphasize the skills needed for the role:

accomplished

economical

instrumental

skilled

adept

expert

productive

skillful

advanced

fluent

proficient

strong

competent

ideal

profitable

superior

constructive

industrious

significant

qualified

cost-effective

influential

smooth

quality


Enthusiasm

Does the role you are posting need a lot of care and attention? Try some of these:

committed

devoted

genuine

sincere

dedicated

earnest

keen

spirited

determined

energetic

passionate

wholehearted

 

Hard-working

Similar to enthusiasm, these words highlight someone who always gets the job done:

alert

driven

motivated

thorough

attentive

enterprising

persistent

tireless

concerted

focused

studious

vigorous

Organization

Calendars, lists, spreadsheets – these words help describe organizational tasks:

businesslike

detail-oriented

smooth

systematic

controlled

orderly

step-by-step

timely

detailed

precise

structured

 

Reliability

These adjectives never take a day off:

accurate

disciplined

impartial

resilient

consistent

exact

loyal

steadfast

dependable

fastidious

professional

sustainable

diligent

honest

punctual

well-grounded

Teamwork & Communication

Does the role involve great social or communicative skills? Try these out:

amiable

cheerful

cooperative

personable

amicable

clear

cordial

pleasant

articulate

coherent

courteous

positive

calm

cohesive

diplomatic

respectful

charming

conscientious

harmonious

team-minded

Versatility

If the job involves balancing many different skills, these versatile words can help you:

adaptable

comprehensive

diverse

multi-faceted

agile

countless

extensive

resourceful

capable

deep

flexible

vast


35 Great Action Verbs for Job Descriptions

These action verbs help describe activities related to the job in a concise way. They drive the action forward.

This verb list includes the prepositions commonly used with the verb. It also features an easy synonym and a dictionary link.

Whenever you want to describe an activity, try to use a verb like the ones listed below:

Verb

Preposition

Example

Easy synonym

acquire

 

Our company recently acquired two tech startups.

to buy

adapt

to

Successful candidates will adapt quickly to their new working environment.

change

advise

on

You will advise management on database management best practices.

help

allocate

to

This year we have allocated more budget to our marketing efforts.

give

approve

 

As head of marketing, you will approve the ad promotion budget.

 

compile

on

As a business analyst, you will compile data on potential partners.

collect

coordinate

 

You will coordinate international marketing campaigns.

manage

create

 

You will regularly create presentations for conferences.

manage

delegate

to

You can efficiently delegate tasks to your team of sales reps.

give tasks to someone

design

 

You will help our Android developers to design new apps.

make

develop

 

Your main task will be to develop software that can organize our databases automatically.

create

draft

 

As a content writer, you will draft blog articles to promote our company.

write

edit

 

As a copy editor, you will regularly edit texts from content creators.

change

ensure

 

As head of logistics, you will ensure our products are delivered on time.

 

establish

 

As a manager, we expect you to establish communication links between the different departments.

create

estimate

 

Accurately estimating quarterly earnings is a key task.

guess

forecast

 

As marketing manager you will forecast the number of leads we will generate.

predict

gather

on

You will gather information on key developments in the tech industry.

collect

implement

 

You are able to implement cross-departmental projects.

do

maintain

 

As a sales manager you will maintain good relationships with our clients.

keep

manage

 

You will manage our key accounts in Europe.

 

measure

 

You will measure the efficacy of our marketing efforts.

 

monitor

 

As social media manager you will regularly monitor our social networks.

check

notify

about

You will notify our users about product updates using newsletters and social media.

tell

project

 

As VP of sales, you will project sales figures for each quarter.

estimate

reach out

to

You will regularly reach out to clients to collect testimonials.

communicate

report

on, to

You will report on user testing to the product team.

 

research

 

As a business analyst, one key skill is researching companies in detail.

 

review

 

You will review our current management processes.

check

solve

 

As lead data scientist, you will solve complex problems with statistical methods.

 

streamline

 

You will help to streamline internal processes.

make more efficient

submit

 

To apply, you need to submit an application online.

send

summarize

 

Please summarize your relevant work experience at the top of the application form.

 

survey

 

As a customer support agent, one of your tasks is to survey our users.

ask questions

test

 

You will work with our data team to test our software.

 


Download Word List in PDF

Putting it all together

Talaera Human Resources Job Descriptions

Let’s use some of the things we’ve learned.


Junior Data Scientist at Numbers Ltd, Tel Aviv, Israel

Would you like to work for a company who is as passionate about data as you are? At Numbers Ltd. our flat hierarchy allows you to define your own research projects and set your own goals. If you have more than 2 years' experience in data science and a propensity for python, you’ll be a great fit.


You love to:

  • manage your own in-depth data projects

  • communicate your data insights effectively

  • design attractive visualizations that tell a story

You’ve got:

  • astute problem-solving skills

  • 2+ years’ experience in Python data projects

Why you’ll love working for us:

  • organize your own projects

  • enjoy our flat hierarchy

  • work remotely

  • socialize at regular hackathons and meetups

More about Numbers Ltd:

We are a young dynamic startup with a team of around 30 full-time staff. Our main focus is providing full-stack data solutions to our clients. In 2018 we completed our Series A funding. Read more about Numbers Ltd here. 

To apply now, submit your resumé online by following the link below.

We’ll get back to you within 3 working days.

 

In this job description we used:

  • concise sentences

  • active voice

  • personal ‘you’  and ‘we’ forms

  • questions

That’s it for now. Hopefully, these tips will help you the next time you have to write a job post. Be sure to stay tuned for part 2 where we will look at how to master the interview phase.

 

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