Are your job descriptions harming your hiring process?

Aug 27, 2018 | Article

A few tweaks to your job descriptions could improve the quality of candidates that apply for work at your organization.

Almost every company uses job descriptions to advertise its open positions, but they're rarely used effectively. A few tweaks could improve the quality of candidates that apply for work at your organization.

How poor job descriptions can hinder the recruiting process

Job descriptions are useful to the HR department because they establish the exact responsibilities of each role within the company. When it comes to hiring, however, the usefulness of job descriptions comes into question.

As Fast Company noted, job descriptions tend to assume that an ideal candidate will possess very specific qualities, experience and talent. These descriptions may demonstrate what will be expected of the candidate who secures the job, but they do little to provide context.

"One of the conversations that my team and I have constantly with hiring managers and candidates focuses on outcome-based recruiting," says Dr. Jim Kanichirayil, Division Manager of Beacon Hill's Technologies Division in Milwaukee. "Typical job descriptions throw in the kitchen sink on what requirements are and don't give you a lot of information on what the job actually involves. We use those descriptions as a guide, but our entire search engagement focuses on what defines success in the role. We will ask managers what the ideal candidate will deliver in twelve months. Once we have that, we are able to recruit outcomes, which are a better predictor of success than time-in-seat criteria."

For example, a job description might require that candidates possess "the ability to work well in a team." At first glance, the requirement seems straight forward: The company needs a professional who won't shy away from team-based projects. However, the description provides no context for the kind of team work that will be required on a day-to-day basis. Does the position require knowledge of digital collaboration software? Will the candidate need to lead the team? What percentage of the average workday will be spent in a team setting?

Without this context, there's actually very little that candidates can glean from the description. The terminology is simply too vague.

a woman with a laptop

What to avoid when writing job descriptions

Missing context isn't the only thing that damages the effectiveness of your job descriptions. According to LinkedIn Talent Blog contributor Maxwell Huppert, format and word-choice directly contribute to the success of job posts.

For example, using jargon or slang in your job descriptions can be off-putting to job seekers. Words like "guru" and "wizard" don't say anything specific about the job and some people may consider them too informal. When in doubt, concrete language is always preferable.

In a similar vein, some language may seem geared toward one gender over another. Huppert reported that female professionals are less likely to apply to jobs that use masculine language and terms, such as "ninja" and "chairman". Keeping words gender neutral is best practice.

Huppert also noted that job descriptions with large blocks of text may seem overwhelming, especially when viewed on a mobile device. Breaking up the text with bulleted lists and short paragraphs makes it easier for readers to get important information quickly so they can make an intelligent, informed decision.

How professional recruiters can make a difference

An expert recruiter will always be more effective at finding a good candidate match than a written job description. Recruiters have intimate knowledge of the industries they work in, giving them the context needed to make the right choice.

Comparing resumes to job descriptions doesn't allow for much finesse. Expert recruiters can utilize their extensive networks to find candidates that will not only suit the company's business needs, but also the established corporate culture.

To learn more about how to find quality talent for your organization, reach out to the professional recruiters at Beacon Hill Staffing Group today.

This content is brought to you by the Marketing Team at Beacon Hill Staffing Group.

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