Drive student interest in your job

reading resume

Writing a job description is arguably one of the most important steps in recruitment. A robust job description can signal to candidates what your organization finds important and how they can contribute to the business. Our research shows that the inclusion of some important details can increase the quantity and quality of the student applications. 

Co-operative and Experiential Education at the University of Waterloo analyzed 37,000+ co-op jobs posted on our internal job board system, WaterlooWorks, over the last three years. They found that job descriptions with key words associated with six general themes received a higher number of applicants: company culture, programming languages, food and games, employer values, compensation and career development. We have highlighted two themes and provided examples below.

Company culture

When students saw more words related to company culture in a job description, the job was more likely to receive a higher quantity of applications. Keys words include:

  • Collaboration
  • Challenge
  • Change
  • Social

Work-Learn Institute research shows that young talent looks for challenging opportunities that will provide them with meaningful work. If you outline this in a job description you can gain a competitive advantage and get higher-quality candidates. Find two examples of job descriptions below and how including specific language led to an increase in applications:

Job A

What's in it for you?

  • A friendly, collaborative and inclusive culture
  • Work-life balance by scheduling your day around your priorities and having more time to spend on the important things

198 applications

Job B

… our people are our greatest asset. You'll become part of a diverse community that acknowledges everyone's unique talents and empowers teams to do what's right for the client, and to do it well. As part of our team, you will:

  • Work in a place where the right technology and infrastructure fosters innovation, collaboration and creativity

337 applications

Employer values

When you write a job description for students, keep in mind what values are important to them. Job descriptions that received higher applications included the key words support, learn and lead. Students want support during their work term to accomplish tasks that allow them to grow and learn in the workplace. Students want to know how they will be valued in the workplace. Consider the two examples below:

Job A

As a member of our team, you are valued, respected and heard, and you have more ways to grow and make an impact. We strive to help you make an impact from day one - for yourself and our customers.

We'll support you with the tools and resources you need to reach new milestones, as you help our customers reach theirs.

370 applications

Job B

If you also share these values, we would like to hear from you.

  • Honesty & Integrity - Doing the right thing for all of our collective stakeholders
  • Respect - For ourselves, our partners, our host communities - and the environment
  • Having Fun- Feeling passion and enthusiasm for our work drives our efforts

127 applications

Refer back to the six themes the next time you’re writing a job description for students so that your role, and organization, stand out to quality candidates.