How to Write a Winning Job Description

The goal of a job posting isn't to get a hundred resumes: it's to get the one that fits. Here's how to rewrite your job descriptions to ensure you get the best response.

Employee Blog

I should have known better. After all, writing vivid, actionable content is my craft and my trade.

But I still learned this the hard way.

Around Thanksgiving, I decided our copywriting services agency needed to hire a full-time admin. I put up an ad, got about 300 resumes, did a flurry of interviews, and made an offer to a very nice guy.

He started his job after New Year’s, and it became clear after 72 hours that he wasn’t the right fit. This was a good discovery. But it also felt dumb.

I let him go, and this time wrote another ad on Craigslist. This new ad bore an outlandish title. It then laid out a description that left no question about what we needed, why we needed it, and how the job needed to be done. Our ad (see below) romanced the good, the bad, and the ugly.

We ended with a call to action that only 12 people took me up on.

The thing is, 10 of them were exceptional contenders. Not one resume lacked the basic qualifications, and only two failed to follow up with our stringent cover letter requirements.

After nine more steps, we found our needle in a haystack. And she is a gem.

To recap:

  • The bad ad—crisp but generic—flooded us with hundreds of wrong resumes, wasting everyone’s time.
  • The good ad—outlandish, vivid, and actionable—brought in 10 strong candidates, leading to one needle-in-a-haystack hire.

Lessons learned? Number one: you want to stick your neck out—it might feel uncomfortable, but it will grab the right attention. Number two: the more vivid and tangible you can make your copy, the more precisely you’ll target your audience.

By the way, the new hire is Sofia, and she is posting this blog.

Now to find a salesperson I like just as much. If you’ve got any advice, please weigh in!


“Bossy Pants” Operations Admin for Marketing Startup

I’m looking for a super energetic, proactive admin. Must be a bit of a bossy pants—and very very competent.

You’re not going to sit in a back office doing filing. You’ll own the administration of our company. You’ll be getting things done—hitting the pavement, doggedly following up, wrangling whatever you need so our company—a fast-growing marketing startup—can run smoothly and efficiently.

Energetic & Commanding

  • You have relentless energy. You’re up and about as much as you are at your desk, planning how to efficiently solve this issue, produce that end result, help organizethat other thing. You get the work of 3 done in a given 8-hour day.
  • You’re a communications maven: ultra-clear verbally and in writing. You don’t leave people mystified as to what you want.
  • Aside from clarifying end goals and budget, you require little to no management or supervision.
  • You make sure your boss is where she needs to be, when she needs to be there. This includes pushing her out the door if need be.

Precise & Efficient

  • You’re inquisitive enough to understand the big picture and where you fit in. Early in your job, you grasp clearly and precisely how your work can and will help support a massive growth spurt.
  • You are efficient, quick, and accurate in getting stuff done. You live to knock things off your to-do list—and other people’s. 
  • You haven’t met a system you can’t tweak faster and better.

Proactive & Resourceful

  • Once you receive an objective, no one has to manage you.
  • You solve problems without being overwhelmed. These include mastering tricky technology, wrangling issues, negotiating on pricing, designing organizational systems, weighing choices in software, etc.
  • You create order where there’d been none, defeating mountains of paperwork with ease.
  • You see where you can advance an objective and do so—asking questions later.

Detail Oriented; Aesthetically Snobby 

  • You don’t forget a thing—even if your boss does. You find things, remember stuff that got shoved on the back burner, and drive to get it done.

Optional: You love a colorful and creative aesthetic, and you consider yourself a total visual snob.

Culturally Right

  • You understand and believe in our mission: addressing a common marketing syndrome in a way that will soon change the world.
  • You are comfortable with people and curious and open to learning.
  • You have a can-do work ethic that helps propel our company to rapid growth, recognition, and impact.


  • Four-year college degree
  • 2+ years’ operational/admin experience
  • Commanding persona
  • Can-do work ethic
  • Technology savvy: apps, iOS, iPhones, software
  • Knowledge of Google Sheets, PowerPoint (or other presentation software), Microsoft Word
  • Bonus: QuickBooks, CRM, Photoshop, InDesign, WordPress

Responsibilities vary from sales support to marketing, digital filing to PA tasks for our CEO. You’ll be working from three locations: your home and our offices in Williamsburg or Manhattan (ideally, you’d be okay with pets).

NOTE: We will ONLY consider resumes with cover letters. You MUST answer the following three questions.

1.     Organized. Describe a system you designed at home or on the job. What was its impact?

2.     Proactive. Give me an example of something you proactively took on at another job.

3.     Precise. Talk about a time you’ve been right—and didn’t back down.

Resumes without answers to the above will not be considered.

Jean Tang

Jean Tang

A champion of high-end content, Jean is a living tribute to copywriting for humans. In 2012, at a TEDx talk, she declared her now widely viewed “War Against Bland.” The visionary founder of MarketSmiths, Jean leads her growing team to captivate, inspire, and motivate readers. She has helped thousands of global clients generate revenue from words (up to 12,000% ROI), and transformed the writing of hundreds of seminar attendees at the SXSW Interactive Festival (2014 and 2015), SXSW V2V (2014), the Small Business Summit (2014, NYC), and other venues.

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