It’s almost too easy to make fun of (or simply lament) the state of modern job descriptions. Or rather, how little they’ve changed in the last 40 years while the rest of the world keeps spinning forward.
Given how strongly we rely on these legal-documents-turned-recruiting-tools, maybe we should light a match rather than curse the darkness. Rather than demand everyone re-think their job descriptions from a clean sheet of paper, how could we make existing job descriptions better?
To that end, we came up with 9 ways to make your job descriptions better today.
Open the Kimono
You love your company and probably say amazing and glowing things about your company and job. But let’s be fair: You’re biased. And everyone knows that. So instead of spending more time saying how great you are, consider letting other people say that for you.
For example, are there reviews from Glassdoor and Indeed you can reference? These impartial comments and testimonials can support your brand promise, even if they aren’t always 100 percent positive
If we know candidates are going to swing by those sites to learn more anyway (and they do), opening the kimono to see more of the good and bad sets the expectation that you are transparent and trustworthy.
Smile for the Camera
The old mantra of acting, writing and presenting is, “show, don’t tell.” Saying you have amazing locations, great technology or top-notch perks is one thing, but showing the view, the tech or people in massage chairs is far more effective. Embed a combination of glossy marketing pics with rougher, more “authentic” employee-generated photos to create the most effective message that prospects could embrace.
Job descriptions can generally be described as “gray” both in content and visuals. People’s brains are wired to absorb visual content far faster than text, so find a way to integrate infographic elements into your job description. Not only will that connect with prospects faster, it nudges you and your team into thinking about how you tell your job story differently.
Who Is Successful?
One of the most common questions candidates have in interviews is, “What are the traits of successful people in this job?” Beyond the description of the job, this may be the next most important piece of information to relay to the prospect. Someone may be an amazing sales person, but perhaps they are a shark and you are looking for a relationship-driven sales person. It might be hard to infer what kind of sales job this is purely by the description, so being more descriptive about the desired traits and attributes better establishes fit.
One mistake job descriptions make is trying to be all-inclusive. A single description can’t answer every question and define the brand and showcase the location and provide a platform for all the other elements described in this post. Instead, build that content separately, but establish a way of linking from the job description to that content, which may already exist. Asking prospects to go hunting for it on their own is a recipe for abandonment. So provide the information they want one click away.
We don’t have to explain the power of social media. The problem is that too many companies treat Facebook and the lot like job boards when few people are likely to use social media that way. Instead, point to your social channel as a way to establish social proof and to confirm your employer brand in a less formal manner.
People use social media much further down the consideration funnel – not to find jobs, but to see if the jobs they find would fit their personality or work style. They want to see who works there, what the offices are like, if people are having any fun, if people are engaged. If they can see people like themselves, they will be far more likely to convert.
Where in the World?
Too many job descriptions hide their locations. Instead of their address, they list the job in the “Greater Atlanta area” or the like. You might think you’re being subtly coy, but a lack of transparency is a clue that more selective candidates might want to look elsewhere.
Why is the address so important? Obviously, there’s the question of the commute. Is your job close enough to drive to? Is there bus or train service? But beyond that, the location helps define the working experience. Is this job downtown in a high-rise building surrounded by coffee shops and lunch options, or is it in the suburbs where the closest food or dry cleaner is a car ride away? Is it in a strip mall or a converted warehouse? What elements exist that allow prospects to envision themselves at work every day? A lot of those elements are provided by defining a more precise geographic location.
This is the scary one. The thought of publishing base salary or salary ranges will give many executives night terrors. But before you discount this idea out of fear, let me lay out a case for being more open about your salaries.
The primary reason you keep salaries private is so that you can offer someone a lower-than-industry-average salary and have them accept it. This short-term focus on saving a dime leads to anxiety and stress in your employees who wonder if they are being paid less than everyone else, and if they should look elsewhere. Opaque salaries put more of the power on your side of the table but can lead to long-term morale issues and team distrust.
I’m not suggesting you publish everyone’s salaries, but a baseline salary expectation not only lessens that anxiety, but helps define the job. A role called “Marketing Manager” might be the entry-level grunt or it might be responsible for your company’s brand. A base salary will indicate what you’re really looking for. This keeps you from wading through hundreds of fresh-out-of-college marketers when you want someone responsible for executing your entire marketing plan.
Sell, Sell, Sell
When you get right down to it, the job description is there for the lawyers and HR managers first, the recruiters second and the prospect last. In this economy, prospects need a compelling reason to apply to your job and a legal document just isn’t going to cut it. Providing all the elements noted this blog will certainly help, but one idea is still lacking: The why.
You need a short sales pitch that pushes a candidate off the fence and into your ATS. You need a reason why someone should spend up to an hour typing their resume into your system. You need a reason to choose you and go through the ordeal of the interview process.
One of the easiest ways to sell the job is to be more descriptive about your benefits and perks. List them in the job rather than ask someone to go hunting for them. List perks specific to the job, or even things that aren’t perks that help establish who should apply (for example, one of the perks of installing security systems is that you get to work outside).
These things, done individually or collectively, will have a huge impact on both the number of applications you get and their quality of fit. They don’t require you to start from scratch, only to augment what you already have.