Job Descriptions aren’t Dead! They just need to evolve!

I swear, if I read one more blog post about how job descriptions are dead….

Every so called influencer in Talent Acquisition has weighed in on the idea of job descriptions going away completely. They give statistics on how few candidates read them or how companies should try this new sexy way of marketing their jobs. These influencers would have you believe you can be the next Facebook or Tic Toc of your industry if you would only do away with those “stupid job descriptions”.

These influencers tend to miss answering one obvious question- How the hell will candidates know what the job is if there’s no job description?

The real problem with job descriptions isn’t their function but the lack of evolution in the presentation. You can throw all the videos, pictures and holograms you want into your job post but if the candidate still walks away wondering what in the hell they’ll actually be doing, you’ve still missed the mark.

Also, much of the chatter around this subject tends to forget that small to medium sized companies may not be able to afford all of the bling suggested for their job descriptions. In many of these smaller firms, they may not even have an HR manager, much less a compensation department, formal marketing department dedicated to job descriptions or anything of the sort.

They need something to go out on a job site to attract candidates, tell them enough of what the role is to get them interested, and something to create a guideline of how to measure the success of the candidate if they’re hired. They don’t need all of the crazy shit some Talent Acquisition influencers are preaching.

Let’s talk about what needs to happen with job descriptions.

Photo by geralt

Qualifications-Easy Tiger!

Qualifications should be treated as the price of entry to a firm, not your wish list of a perfect candidate. The list should not be the length of a grocery list for a family of five but more like a list you’d make for a quick run to the store. It should be more like milk, bread, oreos, lunchmeat and cheese. You know, the kind of list you make to ensure you’re only in the store 15 minutes and come out spending less than thirty dollars. Just get the basics in there.

This approach helps the writer of the job description spend less time on how they could disqualify potential candidates. It also helps candidates not become discouraged when they’re reading your job post.

One critical piece to this is your ability to recruit diverse candidates.

Credit: thinkgrowth.org

If your qualification list is ten miles long, you can just about gargantee yourself a pool of male candidates. That’s why I suggest brevity in your qualifications. Give enough to tell the candidate they either have a chance to get in or not.

They are not SEO Friendly

Job descriptions or job posts should be updated for the times. Candidates don’t go to their daily newspaper to look for jobs anymore. Google is KING so if you’re not writing your description with your target candidate in mind, you’re better off not posting the job all together.

When writing the job description, you have to write it for the target audience while also keeping in mind keywords the candidate might search. One of the biggest mistakes made in this area is using corporate jargon known only to insiders of your company. When you put too much of the jargon in your description, you diminish the number of candidates who might find your job in a generic search.

As an example, the firm I work for calls tellers Branch Associates. Sure, the title is sexier than teller but what candidate would go to Google looking for teller jobs and type in Branch Associate?

If you find yourself in a similar scenario, try to use the more common keywords in the introduction of your job description to help draw the parallel to what the market calls the role and what you call the role. This will not only help candidates find your job but will also help them understand the value you place on the role.

Google now ranks websites higher for the value of the content which means this could be a goldmine for you in free marketing if done right. Take the time to position your job post to be found leveraging the true power of SEO.

Job Descriptions should be for Marketing, NOT Performance Evaluation

In a couple of recent meetings regarding job descriptions, I felt like the team I worked with was writing the handbook for performance management for the position. The manager actually referenced being able to hold an employee accountable to the items listed on the job description as a performance measurement.

Job descriptions should never be written this way. The KPIs (key performance indicators) for the role should be set separate from the job description. Sure, they should be discussed during the interview process but is that really what you want to lead with to attract candidates?

It’s as if you’re saying: “Here are the list of things we’re going to use to see if you stay or get fired.”

Stupid!

The job description should be a loose definition of the role, not the string holding the blade of the damn guillotine.


Photo by Pixabay

Are job descriptions dead? Hell no! Unfortunately, most job descriptions are more like a dead end sign than an invitation for a career.

They just need a face lift and a change of focus. If you find your candidate flow is dismal, the job description is the first place you should look.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is it marketing the role as an opportunity or merely showing the price of admission to your firm?
  • Does it showcase your company culture or does it only, blandly talk about what he role does?
  • Does your list of qualifications look like a list of side effects found on the latest prescription drug? If so, modify it and trim it down.

When you find the right sauce for your job description, you’ll begin finding the right candidates. They are the storefront to the opportunity you’re selling so make sure they tell the right story!

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Published by Trent Cotton

I joined the HR industry in 2004 after working as a sales leader in the Financial Services Industry for eight years. After spending his first couple of years in HR trying to fit in, I found my voice. Now I leverage all of the things I once hated about HR to become a consultant and invaluable partner to the businesses I support. My passion to lead, innovate and engage the HR industry. I use my blog at NakedHR.me to reach thousands of readers and provides unique insights into a range of HR and business topics. I currently write for NakedHR.me and SprintRecruiting.com. I contribute to the HRGazzette and to DataDrivenInvestor on Medium. WARNING: my writing style is raw and in your face, not what you would expect from an HR executive. Connect with me on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/trentcotton or on Twitter @TrentCotton.

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