Is Your Job Description Attracting the Best Candidates? If Not, We’ll Show You How!

by Susan Mullin

Man writing job description on computer

As of May 2018, the unemployment rate was a shockingly low 3.8 percent. Add to that the fact that there were approximately 6.7 million job openings on the last day of April, and it’s no wonder many companies are struggling to find the skilled professionals they need to fill vacant positions.

Your job descriptions function as a sales pitch. When well crafted, they entice job seekers to apply, increasing your talent pool and the quality of the applicants. However, if your job description is lackluster, vague, not gender-neutral or filled with tired buzzwords, the best and brightest aren’t going to submit an application.

Creating an attractive job description is practically an art form, requiring a keen eye and the ability to see the content from the perspective of job seekers. If you want to attract the best candidates with your job description, here’s what you need to do.

Ditch Buzzword Labels (or “Cutesy” Language)

Terms like “ninja,” “guru” or “rock star” aren’t effective in attracting top talent—and may even make your company look unprofessional. First, skilled professionals aren’t using these buzzwords in their searches. Would you? Instead, they default to official or descriptive titles, like “specialist.”

Second, many of these words are considered culturally insensitive or gender-specific. This can harm perceptions about your company’s culture or inadvertently suggest you are seeking candidates that fit a specific demographic.

Finally, while these phrases originally seemed whimsical, they are now viewed as tired clichés. They won’t help your job description stand out from the crowd in a positive way, so eliminating them and switching over to titles that clearly speak to the role is a better approach.

Be Reasonable About Requirements

An excessive laundry list of required skills and experiences will shrink your talent pool significantly. When faced with a lengthy roster of must-haves, many job seekers who don’t entirely fit the bill will assume they can’t secure the role, even if they have the potential to be successful and meet 98% of core requirements. Or, they may perceive your company as being unreasonable in expectations. This means talented candidates may choose not to apply based on the assumption they will be turned away.

Instead of listing every last competency as a requirement, narrow the must-have list to a handful of critical skills that are genuinely a necessity. You can include the others in a secondary list of “nice-to-haves” if you want to assess candidates in those areas. This encourages applicants to speak to those points in their application if they possess the skills but doesn’t automatically discourage those who don’t tick every box from sending in their resume.

Paint a Complete Picture

A vague job description isn’t going to attract the best candidates. If job seekers have too many questions about what the job actually entails, they might not take the time even to apply.

Try to include details that outline what a day in the position entails. Outline key responsibilities and how the job fits into the organization as a whole. Provide job seekers with a salary range, so they can gauge from the beginning if they would be open to accepting the position at a price you can afford.

You should also include information about what makes your company an interesting place to work. Consider discussing volunteer or mentorship programs, highlight commuter-oriented benefits like carpool matching or telecommuting options. Showcase professional development opportunities like tuition reimbursement, job shadowing, and cross-training.

By including details that give a complete picture of what your organization has to offer, candidates who possess the right skills and could also fit into your culture are more likely to apply.

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Posted in , Hiring Managers