Writing a better job description

Stop writing that same old job description

“Excellent interpersonal skills.”

“Self-starter.”

“Ability to lift 50 lbs.”

“Additional duties as assigned.”

Buzzwords and clichés run rampant through most traditional job descriptions. And, let’s face it: These stale bullet points are no longer pulling their weight when it comes to attracting top talent. That’s especially true in today’s extra-tight job landscape, where it’s truly a candidate’s market. Unemployment in the Kansas City region is below 3 percent, and the vast majority of desirable candidates are already working and only passively looking for a new gig (if at all).

New approach to job descriptions

It should be no surprise that a “traditional” job description won’t get you far. While it may be crafted with good intentions, the author often doesn’t have a solid handle on technical jobs and may not know the best way to appeal to those candidates.

Marissa Peretz writes in Forbes that effective job descriptions require additional input:

“Think about hiring as less of an approach of HR than of marketing (and ideally the marketing people should at least review the recruitment deck). So, if a company wants to land the best talent, it should appeal to them with its mission, values and goal—just as if they were investors. Because they are.”

This kind of approach is about selling the company and those aspects that are truly important to candidates. I’m not just talking about ping-pong tables and beer on tap. For a potential candidate, it boils down to this: Do I feel like this company would care about me and the work I can do?

Tips for writing a better job description

The key is conveying that kind of assurance in the brief job description, which is often the first impression a candidate will have of your company brand. Here are a few tips:

  1. Don’t list every duty. Include the primary responsibilities, of course, but customize these examples to make your position more attractive to your target candidate.
  2. Trim the laundry list of required qualifications. Remember that the best candidates are more than just a resume, so don’t allow your job description to disqualify good talent just because the candidate can’t check all your boxes.
  3. Find ways to showcase your company personality. I like to approach this with questions, such as, “Are you interested in building awesome products?” or “Do you want to work in a place where you have the freedom to innovate?”
  4. Craft the content of the job description to appeal to the candidate you’re trying to attract. Technical people want to build with the latest tools and tech. HR folks like processes. Creative people like a sense of freedom and the space to express themselves. Truly understand what appeals to these people and highlight those opportunities in your posting.

Remember that the true purpose of the job description is to entice talent just enough to want to learn more. Let it serve as the compelling movie trailer that gets them to buy a ticket for the feature film.

If you need assistance, look for a staffing services partner who can help you identify and tackle the recruitment burden to meet your business goals—someone who will get to know your business and your culture, someone who will put your job descriptions to work for you!

Dave Templeman is the Director of Staffing Services at AdamsGabbert, a catalyst for growth, a spark for innovation, and a facilitator of progress. Founded in 1999 and based in Overland Park, Kan., AG focuses on advisory services, staffing services and technology services—all designed to make business better for their clients. How have you improved your job descriptions? Share your thoughts on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter!

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