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Job Descriptions: You’re Doing it All Wrong

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Job descriptions are a hugely important component to the recruiting and hiring process. To me, this is obvious. However, time and time again I see weak and uninspiring descriptions that have undoubtedly turned at least some applicants away; applicants that could have easily been your next all-star hire.

This is largely due to the fact that very few recruiters and hiring managers view job descriptions as a marketing opportunity.

And that sucks.

Job descriptions are arguably one of the most important online marketing strategies out there. I mean, think about it: job postings are your very first shot at influencing, connecting, and ultimately speaking to a candidate.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with marketing, marketing is the act of promoting or selling products or services. Simple, right? And you can market pretty much everywhere using a ton of different approaches: social media, print or digital advertisements, conferences, videos, webinars, blogs, and—surprise—job descriptions.

I might sound crazy, but consider this fictional scenario:

Sara is looking for her next job as a recruiter, but she’s not familiar with any search and recruiting firms in the area. Since Sara doesn’t know much about other agencies, she relies on job descriptions to feel out potential employers.

When the boring, non-descriptive, generic, buzzword-filled job description is Sara’s first impression of your organization, your very own reputation then becomes that perception.

Of course, you’re likely not a generic or boring organization; it’s just that the only material Sara has to her make a judgment call is your vanilla job description. Next up is your website (if she even gets that far), so if your website is anything like your job description, I’d say it’s time for a revamp.

Let’s just start perfecting the style of your job descriptions (AKA a portion of your marketing strategy). Apply these 3 tips to the next description you write.

1. Cater descriptions to the needs of the candidate—not the needs of the company

Job descriptions should attract candidates in an emotional way. They should say, whether overtly or covertly, that the given role will benefit the candidate’s growth in some capacity. Show them that they aren't just a number, but a valuable piece of the puzzle. When you shift focus away from company needs and onto candidate needs, it says volumes about who you are as an organization.

2. Don’t exaggerate responsibilities

You want the information to be an accurate depiction of the role so you can hire someone who can accurately perform the role right now. A laundry list of responsibilities can be overwhelming to candidates, so make sure the job description includes the immediately-upon-hire responsibilities; not the ones that could come up. When you’re evaluating candidates, feel free to keep future responsibilities in mind; just don’t make them top priority.

3. Think performance, not qualifications

Don’t just outline specific details about the role, responsibilities, and qualifications. Take a more performance-driven approach and craft your job descriptions as a performance profile. State actual projects as well as necessary abilities to be successful in the role. This will show candidates that you’re more interested in their abilities; not just their credentials. After all, credentials can be misleading.

Next time you write a job description, position it like this: replace “10+ years of sales experience with an additional 5+ years of management experience required” with “Ability to close 20 new customers every 30 days.”

Take John and Jane for example. John has been in sales for 10 years, but he’s a pretty average sales guy. Jane, however, has been in sales for about 3 years, but she’s already proven her ability to close 2x the amount of sales John ever could in a quarter.

So, would you rather hire John or Jane? Jane, right? Except Jane might not even apply for the role because, technically, she isn’t qualified. Her skills, however, say otherwise. When your job descriptions are hyper-focused on vague credentials and experience, you’re limiting your candidate pool by, well, a lot.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t include qualifications. But, if you’d actually consider Jane given her abilities, try not to include the whole “10+ years of experience” bit. Use minimum qualification instead, for example.

Recruiting, hiring, and marketing is all about people. While they seem like a farfetched trio, you’d be surprised by all the positive changes when you look at job descriptions through a different lens. If you want more details about perfecting job descriptions, head over to 7 Promising Recommendations to Write Superior Job Descriptions.

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