June 30, 2020 Equidpro

Why your job descriptions aren’t attracting top talent. Top 8 areas to consider immediately

Executive Summary

  1.  A weak job description will deter qualified candidates from considering your company.
  2. The job seeker of today is evolving and your recruitment strategy needs to adapt to this change.
  3. There are 8 areas that need to be looked after in your job posting and role description; avoiding any one of them will act as a barrier to finding the right talent.
  4. With the correct framework, a proactive approach to developing an impactful job description will improve the talent outcomes of your hiring process.

A job description is one of the most important communication tools you will use in your organization. In many ways, the job description acts as a gatekeeper to finding the right talent for the future of your business. There is a need for organizations to carefully build their job descriptions in order to attract the right candidates. A well thought out, and constructed, job posting can also be viewed as an inside look into the organization. Poorly done never conveys a strong and positive character of the organization and therefore is less attractive to prospective candidates.

Components of a job description

According to Recruiting.com, there are effectively two main components of a job description:

  1. An overview of the role
  2. The job responsibilities

Although this captures the main tenets of a job description at a high level, there is a level of abstraction that goes beyond this, that once understood, can be implemented to better articulate the type of candidate you are looking for. In other words, understanding the difference in objectives that employers and job seekers have when reviewing a job description will empower you to find the right candidate and deliver the right message about your organization.

To understand the essence of job descriptions better, here is an overview of the outcomes when comparing a bad job description to a good job description.

Outcomes of bad job description:

  1. Creates confusion for a job seeker
  2. Diminishes job seeker excitement as they read the post
  3. Buries the mandatory skill set inside an insulation of nice-to-haves
  4. Provides an unrealistic expectation of prerequisite experience
  5. Removes any interest a job seeker has in your organization
  6. Harms the brand image overtime

Outcomes a good job description:

  1. Paints a pleasant picture in the mind of the jobseeker, illustrating your work environment as a place they would want to work in
  2. Clearly indicates what skills are critical to the job position while separating auxiliary skills that are beneficial, but not mandatory
  3. Approaches the relationship between job poster and jobseeker as a mutual exchange of value
  4. Acts as the first step of the on-boarding process, aligning the jobseeker onto your company’s vision and mission

Can you do the job? vs. Do I want to work here?

There are two fundamental questions that are asked when a job description is published.

The employer is asking the reader: can you do the job?

And the job seeker is asking themselves: do I want to work here?

We offer a simple diagram below that describes the priorities of each question and illustrates how central each priority is to the job post experience.

Each of the 8 areas are explained in-depth beneath the diagram, offering perspective that can immediately be used to tweak your job description strategy.

Employers

Tasks

  • This is the most vital component of the job post for an employer. Simply stated, the tasks of the job must be included so that the job role can be filled successfully. This includes listing specific jobs-to-be-done for the organization; the scope of which will vary significantly from business to business.

Technical

  • These are the prerequisite technical skills that a role typically requires. This comes in the form of certifications, licenses, a level of knowledge with specific software or applications, or other skill sets that overlap with job requirements. Although some organizations are shifting from degree or certificate-based candidate prerequisites, it is still widely used as a discriminating factor.

Tenacity

  • Tenacity includes the messaging you include that signals to the job seeker what type of work environment they can expect. In many ways, the conventional hiring process is antiquated and can lead to employer and job seeker omitting information, over-exaggerating , or even misrepresenting the truth; all in an effort to close-the-deal. To really draw the right fit for the role, the job description should spare no fact when it comes to how hard, time-consuming, or challenging a role will be. If you expect the average new hire to put in 70-hour weeks for the first 6 months, the job description is the time to let them know. Many will view this as a reason to not apply, but some will see it as exactly right for them. You want the candidates in the latter group. And if a fact about the work environment is too reprehensible to list in a job description, perhaps it is time to change that fact.

Tenure

  • Based on the age of the organization, and how long the prospective role has existed in the company’s operations, the company should have a reasonable idea of how long a recruit filling the vacancy will likely stay in the role. Although it would be a misstep to specify how long the incumbent has been in the role, it is important to be realistic about advancement opportunity as well as clearly indicating the nature of the employment (part-time, temporary, permanent, contract, freelance, etc.).

Job Seekers

Culture

  • Today’s job-seeker, particularly millennials, is shifting priority from compensation to culture when it comes to making the decision to work somewhere. This comes at no surprise to many employers as they witness their industry contemporaries becoming more driven by social justice issues, understanding that customers and employees alike are demanding more cultural support from the businesses they interact with.
  • Let the job seeker know what it’s like to work in your office, what values and principles your company stands for, and how the candidate will feel working for you. Is it a “work-hard-play-hard” environment? Perhaps your organization values work-life balance above all else. Does your company routinely participate in social causes? If so, which ones? Whatever the case may be, it is important to today’s prospective recruit to know what drives your culture.

Compensation

  • Think holistically about this one. The decision to list a job role’s salary range is one beyond the scope of this article, but if you do elect to skip the salary range, it’s still important to give indicators as to what the total compensation may look like; including the offer of benefits (if any), travel allowances, vacation days, etc. Listing the compensation (with or without salary range) accomplishes two objectives:

1) Deters under-qualified people from applying for a job that has a scope beyond what they are comfortable performing and;
2) Attracts highly skilled, compensatory-motivated people to apply for the job.

Career

  • This component of the job description places the proverbial bow on top. Unless the job is a temporary contract, the prospective recruit should be able to make a quick yet nearly subconscious mental calculation of how long they could see themselves at the organization. In other words, the candidate should be able to feel by the end of reading the description whether the company could either be:

1) a long-term fit;

2) short-term bridge or;

3) a stepping-stone to a job they really want at an organization they prefer.

If you as the job description’s author choose to ignore this common job seeker heuristic, you will likely find your description falling into options 2 or 3 above. If there is room for advancement in the role or in the company, be sure to identify that. If there is not promotion opportunity, highlight any other advancement that can be found in the role (salary, bonuses/incentives, work-perks, etc.).

Confidence

  • After the job seeker validates the cultural fit, appropriate compensation, and can identify with the career-plan, the job-seeker then puts aside the “what’s in it for me?” questions and considers how confident they are that they can do the job effectively. It may seem mundane, and perhaps obvious to state, but a prospective new hire wants to know that they can do the job, too. Changing jobs is inherently risky. Everything an employer can do the reduce a job seeker’s perceived level of risk and effectively raise their confidence is a win for both employer and job seeker.
  • The key to accomplishing this is in being transparent in the job description. You can accomplish this by segmenting your job description into sub-sections titled “Must have qualities“, “Bonus qualities“, etc.

Take action

Reviewing the information in this article is only the first step. If your organization currently holds a library of job descriptions for various roles, it may be time to review them both from the perspective of what you want as the employer but also what the job seeker is considering when reading that same description. If you find a disconnect between what your job description says and what the job seeker is considering, this gap could be responsible for recruitment struggles. If authoring a new job post from scratch, it would be beneficial to approach it from the above framework, understanding which components act as drivers for both employer and job seeker in the recruitment effort. With the above diagram in mind, make sure to address the most critical, central components first and allow those core items to inform the outer rings of diagram. It may cause friction at first, but it will lead to a higher-quality recruitment approach.

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