Are Your Job Descriptions Good Enough?
Why do job descriptions matter so much? Just like you can tell a good candidate from an unprepared one by reading the first couple of lines of their cover letter, candidates can tell good companies from those that seem straight out of a nightmare just by reading a job description.
Great candidate experience management begins with attracting the right kinds of candidates, and good candidate sourcing begins with a good job description. This is important, so close all your social media tabs and focus. Let’s begin with the basics.
All great job advertisements are based on a template: a job title, a job description, a list of requirements, and a list of responsibilities. If you’d like to quickly grab some ready-to-use templates, check out this bank of 150+ well-written job descriptions from Freshteam.
A clear job title that conveys what the position is without ambiguity does half the job of good candidate sourcing. Sure, “happiness hacker” sounds like a great job title, but it doesn’t tell you exactly what the job is. Candidates would have to read the job description to really get that information.
However, not all candidates will bother to read the job description to understand what the job is all about. You might lose valuable candidates purely because your obscure job title drives them away.
You can use “happiness hacker” if you must, but please at least add “customer service” in parentheses so people know what you’re talking about.
A lot of companies skip the long descriptions of a role in favor of getting straight to the point. That’s okay, but why not take the opportunity to add some context to the position and its importance within your company? Here’s what you can cover in this section:
• Context for the role: How many other employees at the company work in similar roles? How important is the role to the company’s mission? What is the company mission?
• Company culture: Give people a good idea of what they’re getting into.
• Relationships: Who will new hires be working with? To whom will they report?
Make a concise list of responsibilities, with each entry following this structure: action, object, and purpose. For instance, a social media manager’s responsibility might be: “Post on social media accounts to increase follower count.” Keep the list brief. The more tasks you add, the more restrictive the role becomes in the eyes of the candidate. Prioritize and include just the top five.
Define what success means for this particular role. By defining success, you’re also helping candidates figure out what they should showcase in their resumes and cover letters.
For example, a social media marketer is considered successful if they cultivate a lot of social media engagement. Increasing follower count month-over-month and posting five times a day is certainly a part of the job, but those things don’t necessarily encapsulate success.
Requirements outline what a candidate should know and what they should be if they want to get the job. Separate your requirements into skills and competencies. Skills are the specific abilities your candidate would have learned over time, either by completing a degree program or through past experience. Competencies are attributes that will help a candidate succeed in a role. For example, a good sense of grammar is a skill, but good communication is a competency. This section is largely important because it outlines for your candidates your criteria for screening their resumes.
Checklist for a Job Description
• Have you properly formatted your job description? Dividing your job description into “requirements,” “responsibilities,” and “expectations” sections will help candidates understand the role fully.
• Have you included information about the company’s mission and values and the team’s culture for full context? When candidates come across the job ad on a job aggregator, they won’t be able to use the rest of your website as a reference.
• Is your job description neutral and grammatically correct? Make use of tools or get the job description reviewed by a fresh pair of eyes before you post it.
Bonus: Booby-Trapping the Job Description
Bury a secret instruction in the job description, like an assignment or a code candidates can add to their resumes to flag themselves. By giving a super tiny but super specific direction like this, you can tell who is really interested in the role.
One final piece of advice: Keep it short. Make every word count. No one wants to read a saga.
Freshteam is smart HR software for rapidly growing businesses. It has a wide range of features that empower recruiters to source, track, and hire top talent more efficiently. Freshteam offers recruiters built-in job descriptions to speed up hiring, the ability to post to multiple job boards from a single software, automations to screen candidates, customizable application forms, scorecards, and more. If you are interested, you can learn more about Freshteam here, or you can sign up for a trial right here.
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