How to Write an Effective Job Description to Attract Top MEP / HVAC Talent
All your best employees were once candidates going through your hiring process. It is important to understand how you attracted those candidates, so you can improve your recruiting and continue bringing in candidates that help grow your business. Attracting top talent can be especially difficult in an oversaturated job market, so it’s important to stand out from the crowd. In today’s environment of public job boards and social media platforms like LinkedIn, where any HR manager can continuously post ads, gaining visibility is especially tough. In order to differentiate yourselves from the crowd, you need to make a lasting first impression with a great job description.
For over 15 years, we’ve helped recruit candidates in the mechanical and building trades: HVAC, facilities management, mechanical engineering, building automation, energy conservation, etc. During that time, we’ve seen some very successful job ads and others that fell short. Winning job ads describe daily responsibilities in an engaging way, list core skill sets and certifications required, and provide some insight into the company culture. A good job description paints an engaging picture of the work environment and purpose of the role so that potential candidates can envision themselves succeeding at your company. It also helps your hiring managers and recruiters avoid bringing in candidates who are a bad fit. In the mechanical services and related industries, it’s very important to highlight any certifications or skills that are required for the job. For example, many building management roles require candidates to be HVAC Certified. In technical fields like mechanical, electrical, or plumbing (MEP), HVAC, or facilities management, you must be upfront with the certification requirements in order to weed out unqualified candidates early.
Don’t waste your hiring managers’ time. Put in the effort to write an effective job description. By putting in a little time up front, you will save your company from wasting time on unqualified candidates, and you will also attract better people. In this post, we will walk you through some very simple steps you can take to ensure that your job descriptions make a great first impression and attract quality candidates.
Use an Accurate Job Title
When searching for jobs, candidates focus first on the job title. So, the last thing you want to do is confuse candidates by using vague, unusual, or gimmicky titles. Contrary to popular belief, sometimes being too clever or folksy with a job title can be detrimental to your search. You may think it’s helping you stand out from the crowd, but in actuality, it can be confusing or misleading to the candidates. You’ll want to avoid titles like “HVAC Rockstar” because they don’t offer any insight about the job level or responsibilities. Instead, use something like “HVAC Service Operations Manager in NYC”. Using the title “operations manager” offers clues to the candidate that if he or she is an entry-level or junior-level candidate, they may not be qualified for this managerial position. However, if the job title said used vague language like “HVAC Ninja”, candidates with a wide range of backgrounds may apply and end up wasting your time and theirs.
It’s also a good idea to add the general geographic area for which you are hiring so that people who are too far away do not apply. As we mentioned above, the job title “HVAC Service Operations Manager in NYC” lets a candidate know the location of the job immediately and hopefully someone in Florida will scroll past (unless they are looking to relocate).
Once you’ve developed a clear title that indicates the level and geographical area of your desired candidate, the next step in crafting an effective job description is to write a brief outline of the role.
Introduce the Role with an Engaging Summary
Your outline should be a brief yet informative overview of the role and your company’s expectations. Use this as an opportunity to provide insight into the day-to-day operations and departmental expectations as well as a snapshot into the company culture. The purpose of this section is to provide an engaging overview that appeals to talented candidates.
Here is an example job summary for a Plumbing Service Technician Greater NYC Metro Area:
“We have an immediate opening for an HVAC and Plumbing Service Technician to join our warranty repair and commissioning service team in New York City. As part of our team, you will service and start-up HVAC and Heating systems. Our Technicians ensure that all work performed is done professionally, timely and accurately and are capable of managing their time proactively so that all jobs are completed each day. In this role, you will communicate with scheduling to understand the priority of jobs and to ensure the right tools and products are loaded on the truck.
Our client is committed to continuous employee training. Classes are provided in-house, in the field, and at our manufacturing partner’s factories.”
This is a well-written overview because it communicates to the candidate an expectation of timeline (immediate), the location (NYC), their day-to-day responsibilities (service and start-up HVAC and Heating systems) and which departments they will be working with on a daily basis (scheduling). When a job is described clearly like this, candidates can quickly understand if they are qualified and can feel confident when applying for the role.
Communicate the Candidate’s Responsibilities Without Sounding Mundane
As we mentioned above, successful hiring requires a job description to explicitly communicate the requirements of the role. With that being said, you don’t want to simply list out the requirements using a boring list of generalized bullet points. Use this portion of the job description as a chance to tell a story about the role. Articulate how an employee in the job is important to the team and contributes to the success of the business.
In a short, bulleted list of 5-10 items, list out what your ideal candidate can accomplish using specific, compelling language. For example, if we were hiring a Vice President of Service Operations for an HVAC business, we might use something like this:
Key areas of responsibility:
- Strong background in commercial and industrial air conditioning, process cooling, and mechanical systems.
- Minimum of 5 years’ experience with centrifugal and screw chillers.
- Responsible for overseeing the entire service organization including all business-related operations including receiving daily updates from field crew and updates on project and client needs.
- Ability to prepare quotations for chiller repairs and overhauls, service contracts, routine maintenance along with sourcing materials and managing the projects through completion.
- Sales aspect regarding pricing and overhauls for new and existing clients.
- Emergency response for clients and field technicians.
Clear and descriptive bullets like these enable a skilled candidate to envision themselves doing the job. Precise, technical language like “centrifugal and screw chillers” resonates with qualified candidates and warns off unqualified people. The right candidates will read these bullet points and think, “this is perfect for me”.
Reach Out to Current Team Members
If possible, reach out to employees who are currently performing this job at the company, and asking them for feedback on a rough draft of the job description. Especially in the mechanical services industry, where technology is constantly evolving, reaching out to technicians or executives and managers who are involved with the work every day, can help you fine-tune the language used in your job description. You can use their feedback to craft an accurate depiction of the role and, as an added bonus, learn something new about the team in the meantime. Ask employees to be very detailed when describing the requirements so that you can incorporate the correct, up-to-date, technical terms in your description.
Avoid Using Too Many Buzzwords or Company-Only Language
Our clients sometimes think that by littering a job description with industry buzzwords or clichéd phrases like, “Our team is the best of the best!”, helps them to differentiate themselves in the marketplace — but that’s not the case. When you use these types of phrases in a job description it ends up sounding too generic. Stay away from these terms, avoid generalities, and use specific, accurate, descriptive terms to give a real sense of the position.
Also, avoid terms that are unique to your business only. Each company develops its own slang and internal vocabulary. Those terms ease internal communication but are not helpful when describing a job to an outsider. Use only well-understood industry terminology to ensure that you are communicating effectively with the broadest possible group of candidates.
Proofread! Proofread! Proofread!
Simply put, a typo in a job description makes you and your company look unprofessional. Just as you are interviewing the candidate for the role, the candidate is also evaluating the quality of your company – starting with the job description. As a hiring manager, think of how you react to a candidate who has a glaring error on their resume — do you want to bring that candidate in or do they appear sloppy and unprofessional to you? Your job description needs to professional, well-written, and free of typos in order to make a great first impression.
At HVACExec.com, we come across hundreds of job descriptions a year — some good, some bad. Oftentimes, we find that hiring managers struggle with creating the perfect text for their ads or lack the time it takes to create a well-crafted job description. Some people simply don’t have a knack for writing and become frustrated and succumb to using a templated ad. We know that it’s very important to the success of your company to find recruit top-talent and an effective job description is a crucial piece in doing so. To help, we will write your job description for you — free of charge. Simply click here to get started: