Informative. Thorough. Educational.
While any combination of these words could describe the modern job description, I believe that a better set of words would hit the nail on the head:
Boring. Stuffy. Tedious.
Sure, job descriptions are great about listing a position’s duties and responsibilities. In the process, it makes job seekers want to slam their heads against the wall one thousand tortuous times. You win some, you lose some.
But do job descriptions have to be so terrible? Must they put job seekers to sleep, or can they be used for something more? Let’s take a look:
A job description’s ultimate value lies in its ability to conjure applications. Without an employee to fill the position, the job description is useless. Therein lies the problem: today’s job applications fail to attract candidates.
Instead, the average job description is a long list of qualifications and obligations. Filled with stale business terms and complex wording, nothing is more likely to turn off the job seeker. It becomes more about the organization’s desires than the applicant’s needs.
But how did this trend begin, and why do recruiters and hiring managers insist on its practice? The answer is twofold.
First, most recruiters and hiring managers fail to understand the basics of marketing. They still buy into the persistent myth that stodgy business lingo counts as an effective marketing tool. Maybe someday they will comprehend the value of marketing as it relates to the hiring practice. As for right now, job descriptions are still in the crapper.
Second, recruiters and hiring managers fail to put themselves in the job seeker’s shoes. If they were able to do so, they would understand that nobody wants to read a long, tedious list over a compelling, interesting marketing piece. It’s not that recruiters and hiring managers are always incompetent; it’s that they are inward focused rather than outward focused.
So, how can we turn our crappy job descriptions into eye-catching pieces?
Cut, Cut, Cut: If it’s not necessary, take it out! Applicants don’t need to know every single detail about the position until they are serious about it. Present the basics: what the role is, what type of person it would interest, and how it differs from other positions. Remember, this is a job description, not an onboarding manual.
Lingo: Nix the business lingo and go for a more casual, inviting tone. The goal is not to scare your candidates; rather, you want all qualified job seekers to apply. If you use words that they have to look up in a dictionary or online, you’ve already lost a few applicants.
Be Realistic: If you’re looking for a former NASA employee with a creative writing degree and a martial arts career, don’t be surprised if you fail to receive applications. Keep your options open and see what type of applicants you receive. You can always narrow down your options again later.
Culture: Write a job description that matches that your company culture. If your culture is creative, your description should imitate that visionary element. If your culture is inclusive, be sure to get that across in your description. Emphasize the elements that your culture affirms.
Most of all, don’t get lost in the details extraneous elements of the job description. Just remember the big picture: attracting applicants and selling the position.
Let’s turn this tiresome trend around and get the job done right.