High unemployment has saturated the job market with applicants so it's harder than ever for employers to weed out top candidates.

Recently my company was looking for an office manager, and in just two days our job posting received more than 200 applications. Filtering out unqualified candidates became a huge task. But I've learend along the way that long before you can locate the best employee for an open position, you've got to identify what exactly it is that would make someone a top contender, and then craft a job description that will attract people like that. Let's start with identifying four qualities you should be looking for in all potential candidates:


An employee isn't going to help your company in any way if he isn't passionate about your goals and mission. Passion can be hard to identify, so it's best to seek out candidates who clearly exhibit an eagerness for your company or industry from the get-go.


Does the candidate exhibit clear dedication to your company? Or does he seem eager to learn about your industry? If, instead, he just seems to be looking for any old job, eliminate him from the running right then.

Problem-Solving Skills

Your business faces new problems every day, so it's important to find employees who are able to think critically to address them. Does your candidate seem capable of analyzing problems and coming up with answers? If so, that's a very good sign.

Relevant Experience

Has the candidate completed work in a related field or at a similar company? Does her past work require skills they could easily transfer to the position open at your firm? Experience ties closely the other qualities discussed above; don't overlook it."¨"¨Now that you know what to look for in a candidate, how do you write a job description to draw in that perfect employee? Don't skimp on this. Many businesses don't realize that finding a great employee starts with writing a thorough ad. Think of your job postings as a type of matchmaking service--you need to find someone who really wants to work for you, but can also fulfill your needs. When writing a job description, keep these sections in mind:

A Company Description

Even if job candidates research your company before applying to work with you, I advise describing your company to them yourself, to ensure the right message comes across.  Fully describe your company, including information about the work environment and your overall mission, values, and goals. This way, a candidate can determine how passionate he is about what you describe, and you can relay that the job isn't all about the tasks at hand. After all, you don't want someone who can just complete tasks, but rather someone who's passionate about what he does."¨

A Team Description

A candidate needs to know every detail about the type of people you hire--and the culture you've created--so she can determine if she would be a strong fit. This type of information also gives a candidate a starting point to specifically explain why she would fit in at your company. Not only is it useful to know her answer, but also the candidate's ability to pick up this cue says a lot about her problem-solving acumen.

An Outline of the Role & Person You're Looking for

Offer up a quick overview of the position and be as specific as you can about the qualities you're looking for. Do you want someone who's smart, responsible, dedicated, experienced, or computer-savvy? How would you describe the person you need? Then, include the common requirements, like a college degree or knowledge of specific software programs. 

Application Instructions

Don't just ask each candidate to attach a resume--while important, resumes are only good for finding out about job experiences, and rarely tell a thorough story. Give a specific instruction in your job description to see if your candidates are paying attention. For instance, instruct them to include a particular subject line in an email or tell them to include salary requirements. This will help you quickly filter out people who aren't detail-oriented, as well as people who don't particularly care about your position and are just applying to 30 jobs as quickly as possible. "¨There may be a lot of qualified candidates looking for jobs these days, but not everyone is right for your company. Make your job easier by taking these steps to filter out those who don't--and won't--fit.