I’m always on the hunt for new web design opportunities and that includes browsing freelance job boards once in a while. I dread it every time. The majority of listings are vague, ask for unnecessary requirements, and are often shrouded in secrecy. There are simple ways to write better job descriptions and, as a result, attract better talent.

Give the problem, not the solution

Most listings specifically outline the web languages and tools “needed” to complete the project. Can we take a minute to think about how backwards that is? The job’s solution being defined before any hired designer has reviewed the problem! This is like going to the hospital and telling your doctor what medicine you want prior to being diagnosed.

I also like how Seth Warburton put it:

A better approach would be to explain the problem in detail, then hire the candidate you trust to provide the right answers. Let the hired expert(s) use their education and experience to determine exactly what tools and techniques are needed for the job.

Seek help from a human, not a Ninja/Guru/Jedi/Rockstar/God

Say it with me: “Web designers are normal people.” They do not need a black belt to wrangle HTML, nor do midi-chlorians run through their veins. According to Indeed.com, the search for a “Ninja” has increased over 3,000% since 2010. Stop this nonsense. Set realistic expectations and never believe anyone who says they are in fact a ‘puter Ninja/Guru/Jedi/Rockstar/God.

The following are examples of poorly written, obscure requirements I found in recent job listings. I’ve taken the liberty of adding what a web designer thinks as they read them.

  • Send links to your work that demonstrates your amazing-awesome-rockstar-ninja-ness.

    “Absolutely. Right after you learn real words.”

  • You will have coding skills in XHTML, HTML, PHP, CSS, JAVA, BASH and AJAX. Macromedia Flash is a bonus.

    “It’s 2015 and Flash is a bonus? Worse yet, Macromedia Flash? Yikes.”

  • Must be a design Ninja, a jack-of-all-trades, with expertise in typography, graphic design, art direction, photography, video, and web.

    “Basically, must be able to do several careers for the price of one. Got it.”

  • Looking for an über-talented & energetic full-stack UX designer and UI artist.

    “Needs more buzzwords.”

Be honest about your budget

No one like talking about budget. Why? Because they think if they throw out a number, the designer will intentionally use up every dollar. This goes back to my previous point: only hire people you trust! A good and honest designer will look at your budget and be able to tell you what can be accomplished, and even tell you if it will cost less.

Mike Monteiro said it best with:

“I’ll tell you what you can get for that amount. Then we can talk about whether you actually need that much design or not. But most of all, what that number tells me is how to guide you toward the appropriate solution for you, and to stay away from solutions that are outside of your price range.”

Above all, be respectful

Don’t be condescending and use all-caps sparingly. Treat potential employees like a valued member of your team, not just a set of hands you plan to control. For example, statements like this:

MUST include cover letter, resume, and portfolio link. Submissions without any of these will NOT be considered!

Can easily be written as:

Please include cover letter, resume, and portfolio link to be considered. Thank you for your time.

Common courtesy goes a long way toward finding great designers who will want to work with you.