Job descriptions tend to fall into one of a few categories. There’s the standard which can be a very dry, rote recital of responsibilities and data points. There’s the candy-gram style which was very popular with tech start-ups. Big bright, bold and poppy, filled with the countless perks you might find at the company, these job specs were long on style but short on substance. And then there’s the third, most common type that we see, which we’ll call the Purple Unicorn: hiring managers who have drilled down so specifically that they run the very real risk of missing out on some quality candidates.
We think the gold standard lies somewhere in the middle.
So, what should the ideal job description look like?
First and foremost your job descriptions need to effectively communicate with candidates the parameters of the open position you’re trying to fill.
And hopefully, they are written with a lot more energy, personality, and life than the sentence I just wrote above.
You need to strike a balance between listing the essential skills and qualities you’re looking for with language that is representative of your company culture. And know that in order to reach the right people, you have to research keywords, convey what the future looks like for your organization, and leave the jargon out.
Top candidates have options, lots of them, but what most of them are looking for is, a position where they feel challenged, valued and that taps into their creativity. They also want to work somewhere that shares the same values they do. If you have a big green initiative, that needs to be part and parcel of your job descriptions. If your company does a good deal of charity or volunteer work, that needs to be made evident from the get-go. Be certain to inject enough personality into the description so that candidates can clearly see what makes you unique.
Remember: the goal of any candidate search is to find people who will stick with you for many years to come - let them know who you are, what you can offer, and what you stand for from the very first interaction. (For more tips on recruiting top talent, read here)
Focus on Success
First, include the nitty-gritty
- The reporting structure (both up and down)
- Essential Duties
- Salary range
- Essential skills and work experience
- Degree and certification requirements
- Qualities and attributes required to fulfill the position
Second, infuse the description with meaningful details
- If it’s a complex function, break it down into component parts
- Paint a picture of what day-to-day looks like
- Talk projects and problems
- Use original headlines. Ex: If You Are: instead of, Duties & Responsibilities:
- Describe what success looks like.
- And, how will they be measured?
- Think about not only what’s required now, but what are the possibilities down the road.
The description needs to emphasize how your organization can benefit employees’ lives, in both the immediate and long term. Studies have shown that ads that emphasize what a business provides to meet candidates’ needs get 3x more submissions. Those are the kind of numbers you want to attract.
Rely on Your Network
In addition to releasing a job description through your usual channels: HR, your contracted Recruiters, Job Boards, remember to encourage your staff to share it through their professional social networks. Provide social networking links on the description and make it easy for the job to be shared around. And remember, your reputation is your best recruiting tool. Happy and engaged employees are your best brand ambassadors.
A well-written job description is a tool that enables your HR department and/or trusted recruiter to go out and find you the best, most qualified candidates. It needs to tell the story of what it’s like to work at your organization and what long term success means. And finally, it has to leave enough room for your recruiter to bring you candidates that otherwise might not have gotten your attention. You’re looking to attract not only the active candidates but also the passive ones as well.
Job descriptions are an advertisement, remember not to sell them short.