As the expression goes “First impressions count” and once made, it takes a long time to change. Experts say it takes between five and fifteen seconds for someone to form a first impression about a person. So it’s hardly surprising that a badly worded job description can turn off candidates in the first sentence. Why make the effort of reading about a role that doesn’t immediately interest, engage or inspire you? Let alone go through the process of applying.
All too often, we see job descriptions that are too lengthy, wordy and use unclear language. They tell us nothing about the company, its values, or the benefits of working there. Tempting though it may be to dig up and re-post an existing job description each time the same role becomes available, candidates do not want to read tired, re-hashed text. Failure to make the role and the business sound engaging and inspiring will undoubtedly reflect negatively on the company and the job. A well-worded job description can be an effective employer branding tool, allowing you to positively promote your organisation whilst attracting candidates who have the right skills and experience to do the job. If the candidate can also relate to your organisation’s culture and values, then you’re a good way towards ensuring a successful hire.
What makes a good job description? Here are some top tips to help you write job posts that stand out from the crowd.
- Keep the job title accurate and realistic. Avoid using buzz words that have no real meaning, as this can confuse candidates. For example, Marketing Guru sounds cool but what does it mean? Senior Marketing Manager immediately gives an accurate idea of the role and the level of experience required.
- Your Employer Value Proposition (EVP) defines how you’d like to be seen and experienced by employees and candidates. It describes what your organisation stands for, requires and offers as an employer and provides a promise of what candidates can experience working for your business. Invest time in telling candidates about the company, its history, success stories, products and services and what makes it unique. Ensure that the candidate’s recruitment journey is consistent with your EVP, so they know that you are not just paying lip-service.
- Like the candidate’s recruitment journey, the nature, tone and content of the post should be consistent with the company’s values and describe what it’s like to work there. For instance, if transparency is a company value, but there are no salary or compensation details in the job specification, then candidates will not be sold on the authenticity of your value statements.
- When describing the role, avoid using buzzwords and corporate jargon. For example, does your business truly adopt an agile working methodology (a term that is normally associated with software engineering), or does it just sound impressive?
- Avoid wording that is difficult to quantify (e.g. good organisational skills) and specify the true requirements of the role, keeping it realistic (e.g. able to perform tasks promptly and stick to deadlines).
- Avoid repeating the same words and requirements. Candidates don’t need reminding and will lose interest if they’re not learning anything new about the role.
- Stick to the key objectives and outcomes, ideally limit them to a maximum of 10. An endless list of requirements that sound like a ‘to-do list, can be off-putting and hints at micro-management.
- Don’t insist on a degree unless it is necessary, as this could be discriminatory and can also prevent other qualified and skilled candidates from applying. Consult with the hiring manager to determine the minimum qualifications and skills required and what could be learnt on the job.
- Avoid using non-job-related criteria that could discriminate against certain candidate categories such as their background, age or gender. Using language like ‘dynamic’, ‘energetic’, ‘youthful’ can be off-putting to older candidates or to those with disabilities who possess the right skills and experience.
- Some job posts ask candidates to apply to indicate current salary and benefits or other equally confidential information. Requiring this information at such an early stage can be alienating and it is best to postpone these types of questions until the candidate is at the interview stage.
- Address candidates directly, for example ‘As the Senior Marketing Manager, you will..’ which sounds more inclusive. Avoid using he/she pronouns.
- Always give salary details and provide an overview of your benefits and company perks. Not only does this support your EVP but it also provides the competitive edge your company needs to attract both active and passive job seekers. Perks such as flexible/remote working options paid sabbaticals, regular employee socials and events are always worth promoting.
- Learning and development opportunities should also be highlighted as it shows the candidate that the company invests in its people and promotes future development.
- Give candidates an idea of how the role may develop over time, given the future needs of the business. A realistic career plan is always an attractive feature and can also play a part in engaging passive candidates who may be stuck in a career rut.
- To attract a diverse applicant pool, always include your diversity and inclusion statement. This demonstrates your company’s commitment to building an inclusive and varied workplace, welcoming people of all backgrounds.
- Make the application process as straightforward as possible, for instance, allow candidates the option to apply via LinkedIn to avoid any time-consuming processes.
- Give candidates an outline of the timescale for application and interview. Inform candidates that you will be in touch within a certain timeframe if their application has been successful as this will help to manage expectations and avoid any disappointments.
- Job roles are never static and are constantly evolving. Therefore, remember to review roles regularly to ensure that they remain up-to-date, relevant and realistic.
- Hopefully, these guidelines will help you to create job posts that are engaging, inspiring and that will attract the best candidates for your organisation.
If you would like support in recruiting your next team member please don’t hesitate to contact Designated’s Recruitment and HR team for assistance.