How to Write a Job Posting

Thousands of jobs have been posted on ResearchGate, and we’ve learned a lot about what makes a good job post. Here are some tips to make sure your job attracts the best candidates.

We’ve had thousands of jobs posted on ResearchGate, for history professors to geophysicists to outer-space researchers–and everything in between. So when it comes to job descriptions, we’ve seen our fair share of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Writing a job description might seem a simple and straightforward part of your hiring process, but it’s actually a vital part of any hiring search. Getting it right can mean the difference between filling your position in a few days and it staying open indefinitely.

To help you with this, we’ve put together some advice on how to write a successful job description. We’ve based these tips on data and insights we’ve gained from ResearchGate’s jobs platform, and from conversations we’ve had with scientists and researchers. Follow these pointers and you’ll write better job descriptions to attract scientists and fill your open positions.

1. Be specific

If you use a generic description of the role, you run the risk of two things happening: attracting irrelevant candidates, and having your job blend in with the rest. Candidates search for their specific area of expertise rather than wider subject areas, so having a job title like ‘Astrophysicist’ might work alright, but ‘Professor of Theoretical Particle Astrophysics’ will work even better.

2. Be concise, yet comprehensive

Science and research jobs are complicated—even describing the expertise you need can take a few paragraphs. So it’s tempting to put in a huge chunk of text specifying every technical detail as your job description and leaving it at that. Don’t fall into this trap.

It’s important to get the right balance between being comprehensive and being brief. These two priorities are not incompatible, however. Of course you need to provide all the necessary information: the scope of the research, it’s technical requirements, and why candidates should want the job. But this should be listed in a few concise paragraphs of around 200 words. This is the format that we see is most effective for jobs advertised on ResearchGate.

3. Avoid bullet points

Where possible you should avoid bullet points. They’re ok to use when spelling out the benefits and salary you’re offering, but elsewhere it can come across as demanding. A few well-written, conversational paragraphs spelling out what you need and why your institution is a great place to work will attract candidates rather than scare them away.

4. Don't repeat yourself

Just because the nature of the job you’re advertising is technical or complicated, doesn’t mean that repeating the technical aspects of the job will enable you to communicate the position any better. Keep your job posts focused and precise.

5. Focus on the science

You want your candidates to be organized, good communicators, and team players. Everyone does, and these qualities should therefore go without saying—or at least take second priority.

What you should focus on are the skills that are unique to your posting: the science and research experience. Finding this expertise is the hardest part of your job search, so it’s what you should focus on rather than rudimentary professional skills.

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