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6 Tips for Small Businesses to Write Better Intern Job Descriptions

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So you finally have a reliable list of clients or you’ve gotten that round of funding you needed. You want to start expanding your work beyond yourself or the team you already have on hand. You’re ready to invest in some new people.

Maybe your personal network is good and you’ll get a few referrals, but chances are that your network is made up of primarily people similar to you, which makes filling the skill sets you actually need a challenge.

We know the challenges many small businesses face: how do you compete with well-known companies and big intern programs?

One of the first steps is to write great job descriptions, and ones that drive the right kind of traffic and applications. As a small business, quality trumps quantity — because you can’t waste your time going through application materials from people who aren’t a good fit.

Because it’s likely you’re not hiring a new employee you need in a few months, you’re hiring because you need them tomorrow, and in some instances, yesterday, it’s important that you create a well thought out job description that will get the right candidates excited.

Here are 6 ways to make sure your internship job listings catch the eyes of your dream employee.

1. Map out clear responsibilities and expectations

You’re a small business, so more likely than not, your new employee will have to wear quite a few hats while they’re at your company.

Be a explicit about what they’re in for. They’re expected to organize a few company files while working on their own projects and assisting the sales manager? That’s fine. They’ll be doing “administrative” or “office” tasks.

Tell potential candidates that those types things might be expected of them, and let them know they they won’t be slaving without help. Not only will you narrow down your candidate list to the ones who are motivated and driven to do the work you’ll require, it cuts down on potential back-and-forth, and it improves your relationship with your candidates, even before you meet them.

2. Give a run-down of their work environment

A simple addition to your copy– and one that matters to candidates. What is the office like?

“I would hope that the business has a comfortable and enjoyable /fun work environment.” – Awesome Community member Teresa Johnson

A short line like “we work in the Wix Lounge and that means free workshops and activities, a network of other creative professionals, great location for food, and rooftop access” clears up a lot of potential questions and also provides a great incentive to work with you.

Office perks that make a place comfortable are a key draw these days, especially if other forms of compensation just aren’t available to you. Or if you don’t have the good fortune of working in somewhere quite as awesome, mention your open layout, stocked fridge, homey decor and feel, foosball table etc, or highlight other non-financial perks that come with the job. Make sure your workspace sounds as exciting as your business is.
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3. Tell them about their supporting team

Will the employee be mostly solitary in their work? Will they be working on a team with other employees or interns? Will your employee or intern be mostly working with you? Will they be assisting all your team or part of it? What other role will be supervising their internship? These are answers that will convey more to your candidates than “team-player” or “self-starter” because whether their a team-player, self-starter, or both, everyone has a different work style and for an internship especially, the support will be massive.

You don’t need to go into detail. If they’re working with Brittany XY, they’ll exchange names in due time, but it would be good to know that your candidate will be working with the “head of sales” or “head of operations.”

One of the best parts of scoring a job at a small company is having that leadership and mentorship right behind you, and this is a big selling point to your potential candidates that you recognize that.

4. Ask for a little extra from them

When a candidate applies for a position at FindSpark, we ask them to do a couple of things:

“A. Sign up for our community
B. Include in their application…
–     A short blurb on why you’re a good fit (in the body of email is fine), including the biggest thing you’ve ever sold and how you found out about FindSpark
–     One company that would benefit from becoming a FindSpark sponsor and why. One company that would benefit from becoming a FindSpark employer and why.
–     Links to your LinkedIn and any other places you live online
–     When you could start”

Having this in our listings helps us weed out applicants who haven’t done their homework, and ultimately show us that they don’t care about our company.

A question about their values or specific examples of their skillset works fine.

  • Editorial: “Attach your favorite article that you’ve written, and include a short blurb as to why it’s your favorite.”
  • HR: “In your cover-letter, write 2 or 3 sentences about a difficult moment while you were leading, like in a group project or while part of a school club or committee. Informal leading is okay.”
  • Creative: “If you were to redesign our logo, how would you do it? Attach a rough draft to your application.”

5. Talk about compensation upfront

As a small business, you might not have a large budget to devote on your employees. You can’t afford to pay a large wage, and there’s no 401k plan your employee can sign up with. But you certainly don’t need to be offering bonuses or taking everyone on luxurious trips to get the right candidates. The compensation shouldn’t be what the job is about after all and that’s not why you do it.

Just let them know what you can and can’t do for them financially.

The FindSpark Employer Guide has a great breakdown of how each category (paid, college credit+stipend, etc.) breaks down. That way neither you nor the candidate wastes their time. Keep in mind that your candidates know they’re applying to a small company so they’re expecting the intangible awards to be greater than the tangible ones, but no one wants to walk into a situation blind.

We highly recommend paying your interns (New York City minimum wage is $8.75). Not only will you get higher traffic on your listing (unsurprisingly, people search “paid internship” more than just “internship”), you’ll get higher quality, more diverse applicants (twice the response rate as credit/credit + stipend internships). Overall, you’ll have the opportunity to select interns from a larger and more qualified pool.

If your company is interested in posting on the FindSpark job board, which is by application only, 90% of the internships we post are paid.

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6. Describe opportunities for growth, learning, and networking

“What skills could you learn there that maybe you couldn’t anywhere else? Because small businesses are small, they need people to really be working instead of being paper pushers.” – Awesome Community Member Francesca Lai

Let candidates know their potential role won’t be all Starbucks runs and filing.

If a promotion (or full-time hire for interns) isn’t what your company structure can offer, make sure that they learn skills, both technical and soft, that will improve both their company and their professional brand.

Most likely, if you’re small, your hire will have responsibility over projects they would never have had otherwise, so be sure to show that off!

Looking for your next great intern, entry-level, or mid-level hire? Use our highly-curated FindSpark Job Board: findspark.com/listing.

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