As providers of talent solutions to companies around the world, our teams frequently help clients solve long-standing problems with attracting and retaining the right people for the right roles. Often, we find that companies struggle to break out of a pattern of long hiring cycles or mismatched talent. Here Kelly Van Aken, Director of Regional Operations at Allegis Group in EMEA suggests three questions employers should be asking themselves about their job descriptions if they want to see them returning results.
Employers may try many ways to improve their recruiting, such as applying new technology or practices, but in many cases, the job description turns out to be the real cause of the problem. Very simply, vague, inaccurate, or confusing requirements prevent potential candidates from applying. The good news is that while better defining jobs and improving job descriptions takes a concerted effort, it is not rocket science. By reviewing every description with three questions in mind, employers can deliver improved results.
The first thing a reviewer needs to check is the language. Frequently, job descriptions are created by an internal resource who understands the terminology used by the company for different projects or departments. The outcome is a series of vague, internal-speak phrases such as “assists the (Name of Project) team on the implementation of phase two value points.” No one outside the company understands such internal jargon.
To solve the issue, the hiring manager, HR, and the talent acquisition partner should review the messaging and identify places where internal jargon appears. Can the jargon be replaced, or can it be cut? In either case, the result is a description that is less vague and more attractive to the talent the company seeks.
Another way to improve the job description is to ensure it has the necessary specifics while avoiding the requirements that are not. Together, the hiring manager, HR, and the talent partner should ask themselves the questions that are most important for someone to get the job. When you are talking about leading projects and guiding teams, are they big projects or small ones? If Java knowledge is required, is the role a hands-on position requiring active Java coding or is the person more of a reviewer? Is there a clear idea of what daily activity will be? At a higher level, is there a clear picture of the goals the role must accomplish?
Finally, is every requirement and goal directly relevant to the strategic priorities of the role? If not, don’t be afraid to cut the extras from the description. Nice-to-haves can be covered in the screening process.
Finally, for every job description, consider whether it is up-to-date and directly relevant to current talent needs. Companies may find themselves reusing templated job descriptions that are several years old.
The skills mentioned could be inaccurate or out-of-date, and the role may have evolved within the company. In addition, there is the issue of pay, a factor that can always vary over time, and if market conditions are not considered, then the pay being offered may not be competitive. Understand the median rate for the job in the location and take the time to determine whether what you are asking will attract the talent you need. It is not always possible to be transparent about pay in the job description, but when there is an opportunity to do so, including pay information can positively influence the employer’s attractiveness to talent, and it can even improve how well a post ranks in Google jobs searches.
Commit to delivering an externally facing, specific, and informed job description, and the results will be a message that is positioned to attract the right talent. If a job description leads to better results, do not grow complacent. By the time the next role opens, market conditions may have changed, or the needs of the role may have evolved. Employer stakeholders should review descriptions on a consistent basis. For employers, there are no shortcuts to competing for workers in a time of talent scarcity but keeping up with the needs of the job description provides valuable recruiting strength organisations need to secure the right talent, at the right time and cost.