Writing a job description to fill a role at your startup may seem easy enough — copy, cut and paste someone else’s job description. But these days it takes a little more than that. In a candidate-driven market, which is fancy speak meaning candidates pretty much choose from multiple offers, it becomes less about lists of qualifications and more about advertising your company and brand. As a startup business, whether you’re in software, services, or whatever, you’re going to be battling against the likes of Apple, Google, Facebook and the flavor of the month. It’s not easy to compete against those brand names, especially if you’re providing a software product in a highly specialized niche. Most candidates want to work for the big boys, not go up against them. Which is why showing off your brand and personality is more important than ever.

Tips for Writing a Good Job Description

As I mentioned before, several startups see the way that larger businesses write their job descriptions and think that copying is the way to go. Granted, some companies like Apple and Disney do an awesome job with theirs, but other industry players go the traditional route. This is not what you want to do.

Recently, we were in the process of hiring, and despite knowing better we copied and pasted a generic job description for the sake of saving ourselves a half hour. LOL. This did’t work out too well for us. Within 14 days we had a total of about 6 applicants, each one worse than the one before. And statistically speaking, within 14 days is when you should see your highest candidate flow, after that there’s significant drop off. If you think of it in terms of marketing, job descriptions are similar to pay-per-click ads and SEO rankings (you’ll find us tie several things back to marketing). Just like with SEO and PPC ads you’ll find drop off rates get significant as your ranking diminishes, which is why there are tricks to optimizing your job description to increase the length of time you spend at the top.

Tips for writing better job descriptions

  • Use a clear descriptive job title (none of that Sales Ninja-Starfighter-Bandit-Rockstar crap). You choose a title based on keywords that will be searched. If somebody is looking for a job as a “Sales Manager”, then they’re going to search that, not “10th Degree Sales Zen Master of Closing”
  • Use your title and associated keywords in the copy. This is as simple as restating the Job Title in your job description, as well as a couple other keywords. If you’re looking for a “Sales Manager”, you may also want to include a couple instances of “inbound sales” or “outbound sales” in the job description to increase your relevancy for those keywords.
  • This is the most important tip that I have. Focus on your employer branding and company messaging, and not on the roles and qualifications. Most businesses will write a job description with a 1000 words for the qualifications and role, but only use 100 words to describe the company and leverage their brand. I’ll expand on the importance of this.

Focus on Your brand not on the roles/qualifications of your job description

Unless you’re fresh on the job market, you should know what your job is. If somebody puts out a position for a VP of Sales, then you should be able to sum up the qualifications in a few bullet points just to weed out unfit candidates. And if I were a candidate for a VP of Sales role, then I should know what my position entails. Back to my point. We ran an impromptu experiment for our job description, the first of which brought in 6 candidates. Here’s our initial job description.

Sales Manager


We currently have an opportunity available for a Sales Manager at our digital marketing agency.


As our Sales Manager, you will manage leads and be responsible for customer service and satisfaction, prospecting, product knowledge, sales presentations, closing business, determining pricing and terms, paperwork, and sales guideline interpretation.


Responsibilities of a Sales Manager include:


Coach and mentor future sales associates to manage leads and train the team on customer service and satisfaction, prospecting, product knowledge, sales presentations, closing skills, product/service pricing, terms, paperwork, and interpreting sales guidelines

  • Manage Sales Professionals, including motivating Sales Teams to become highly productive in a professional environment.
  • Recruit, hire, train, and motivate Sales team.
  • Provide Sales team with proper training regarding sales techniques, legal requirements, and company products, policies, and procedures.
  • Review and evaluate sales performance.
  • Conduct weekly sales meetings, projections and targets.
  • Ensure that location sales quotas are achieved and promote sales activities.
  • Ensure all contracts and paperwork is completed and returned accurately and in a timely manner.
  • Conduct online demonstrations and leverage web-based tools to convert leads to customers.
  • Provide input regarding property and merchandise selection and pricing by interacting with families.
  • Be an advocate of Company initiatives.
  • Handle personnel issues concerning the Sales Team.
  • Foster and maintain a positive working environment.
  • Develop positive relationships with startups and mid sized software and service businesses.
  • Ability to motivate individuals with excellent communication skills, incredible relationship-building abilities, and a natural talent to lead.
  • Minimum of 3-5 years of Sales Management experience preferred.
  • Prior Sales experience required in a related or similar industry.
  • Basic computer and technology skills required.
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office applications.
  • Excellent understanding of the selling process.
  • Time management and organizational skills.
  • Proven Sales Team leadership in a quota-driven environment.
  • Outstanding verbal and written communication skills.
  • Ability to work in a team environment.
  • Creative and detail-oriented

Notice how boring that is? Reading that again makes me want to slowly remove my eyeballs with a spoon. Yeesh. Since we didn’t get any candidates we thought were a good fit, we rewrote the job description. Naturally, we focused more on our brand, using language that we would use, and relaunched. Here’s an example of what we wrote.

Sales Manager
Do You Have the Right Stuff?

We’re a highly focused digital marketing agency that works with several game-changing startups and larger more established and boring big businesses (just kidding! we love them too!!!). Our clients expect us to think outside the box and provide solutions that help break revenue and traffic targets, and that’s what we expect from you. We’re Digital Astronauts, pioneers of the marketing frontier, and we’re looking for a Sales Manager who’s eager to learn about several businesses and industries, and run our sales like it’s your very own Millennium Falcon.

You’ll be willing to flip, turn, spin, and even go through wormholes to close deals. We don’t give up and we don’t set boundaries for you, this is your starship and we’ll let you navigate. Your reward? Besides a healthy compensation package, you’ll be able to work remotely, and partake in Chimichanga tuesdays (we literally mail you a package of chimichangas every week. Yes, this is a real thing.).


What You’ll Do As Our Sales Manager


Sell the shit out of our services. Duh.


Qualifications for our Sales Manager

  • Minimum 3 years sales experience.
  • Understanding of Sales cycle from lead to close.
  • Successful track record in selling things.
  • Must be fan of Star Wars.

Obviously these two job descriptions are completely different from one another, and the difference in performance was amazing. The first job description gave us 6 candidates, and this one landed us a whopping 35 qualified candidates. The best part was hearing each candidates responses to our job opening and how they tailored cover letters to include Star Wars related humor and references towards chimichangas.

To cut through all the noise out there from generic job descriptions, you have to show a little personality, and the best way to find candidates that are a cultural fit for your business is to show off what makes you unique. Even if it is something as ridiculous as Chimichanga Tuesdays, or your company is composed of nerds. We may not be able to compete with the perks that Netflix or Google offer, but your startup is special and it’s key for you to write your job description in a way that lets candidates know it is too.