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In the race to hire qualified candidates during a national nursing shortage, healthcare organizations have found creative new ways to compete, from better benefits to eye-catching nurse job descriptions.

At the end of the day, nothing can beat the basics. No matter how cutting-edge your recruitment marketing, an effective job description is still one of the most successful hiring strategies and a great way to stay ahead of the competition.

Let’s take a closer look at what an effective job description looks like from start to finish and then check out some examples. 

How to Write an Effective Nurse Job Description 

Effective nurse job descriptions help you isolate the kind of candidates you want to see and showcase your qualifications as a great employer. Here are some tips to help you create a job description that will attract qualified candidates.

Name the position clearly and accurately

Precision and clarity are key for naming job roles in a way that will attract applicants. Leave superlatives at the door and state exactly who you’re looking for. According to a 2020 Indeed survey, 36% of job seekers that use job sites search by job title, so you don’t want to miss out on candidates by being unnecessarily creative. 

The title “Go-getter Caregiver,” for example, is vague, unhelpful, and might discourage job seekers who read specific implications into “go-getter.” To some, it can sound like they’re expected to work independently without sufficient support or oversight. To others, it may come off as a euphemism for long hours with few benefits.

However, “Senior Registered Nurse” gets straight to the point, is easy to search, and lets the job seeker know if they’re a potential fit for the role. 

Provide a compelling job summary

This is the core of your job description. Here’s where you convey the most important information in just a few sentences. Provide context upfront, indicating what you’re looking for and why you’re a good employer.

Here’s a quick checklist of information to include: 

  • Your organization’s focus or mission
  • The position you’re hiring for
  • What the job entails 
  • Why a jobseeker should work for you

If you include buzzwords like “fast-paced,” “dynamic,” or “flexible,” make sure to support them with context. You might include examples of the work environment, opportunities, or scheduling options. These terms can all be misinterpreted unfavorably if they’re not properly defined.

Break down job expectations and duties

Here’s where you can break the core job summary into individual tasks. This section may work best as a bulleted list for easy reading, or several short paragraphs. 

Avoid getting sucked into the weeds—general categories of responsibilities work. Paint a broad picture of how this role fits into your organization so the applicant understands what they will do and why they will be valued. 

Our client Worthington Healthcare Center offers a great example of how to break down a job role into required tasks in this job description for Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Duties include creating and receiving resident reports and assisting with food service, cleaning, basic nursing care, and resident activities.

Lay out non-negotiable and negotiable requirements 

You only want applications from people qualified to perform the role. This section should include any qualifications, education, credentials, and specific skills that are non-negotiable. 

After listing requirements, describe preferred or nice-to-have skills, qualifications, and traits that aren’t necessary, but would be useful—like second language fluency or specific experience. One approach is to list skills you hope your candidate will learn on the job if they don’t possess them already. 

Worthington Healthcare Center’s CNA job description includes education requirements as well as “soft skills” like tact and an interest in applying new methods to current practices.

Include job salary or pay rate and workplace benefits

Now you have the chance to sell your company and stand out from the competition. Many companies don’t include salary and benefit information in their job descriptions and may miss out on attracting ideal talent.

Posting your salary range works on multiple levels. You’re telling candidates you’re committed to transparent operations, and lessening the chance that you’ll waste time on applicants who were never planning to accept a role with your budgeted salary. 

Try to focus on concrete elements of company culture, like PTO and support networks. Saying that it’s a “fun” or “motivated” environment is really a matter of perspective, and may raise more questions. Offer details, such as the number of vacation days, types of available shifts, and insurance options.

Another Apploi client, Five Star Nursing, lays out the salary and benefits for this CNA position in a bulleted list so candidates can quickly skim their offerings. These include an hourly rate range, flexible scheduling and shifts, voluntary medical insurance options, commuter benefits, and paid orientation.

Add a call to action

Once your candidates know all they need to know about the position, encourage them to apply. Add a sentence or two at the bottom of your nurse job description indicating how they can move forward. This could mean clicking an “Apply” button, emailing a staff member with their resume, or clicking through a quick-apply option on a job board or social media site.

Proofread job description for clarity and inclusion

Read and reread your job description before publishing it for all to see. We recommend doing two proofreads. One for clarity, typos, and flow—and one to make sure you’re using gender-neutral and inclusive language. 

This tool can help you identify language that might be perceived as gendered. Other tools, like Grammarly, can help you catch spelling and grammar mistakes and readability.

Sample Nurse Job Descriptions 

Now that we’ve given you a breakdown of a good nurse job description, let’s put that knowledge to use. Download sample job descriptions for different nursing positions below. Use them as templates to add your own information, job duties, requirements, and salary information.