Is Your Job Description Scaring Away the Top Talent?

Steve Jobs on Hiring

There is a war for talent going on. This war has been raging wildly in the promotional products industry for some time. It shows no sign of stopping anytime soon. The survival of your business depends on your ability to meet the needs of your top performers. If you fail to meet their needs, they’ll leave you for a competitor that’s crafting a more compelling story. In the war for talent, the business with the most differentiating factors and the ability to sell those factors wins.

In HR, as in sales, you need the proper bait to land the big fish. The big producer. The bright, young executive. The rainmaker. They have no lack of options. You have to separate yourself from the rest of the industry. Buzzwords like “creativity”, “branding agency”, and “industry leadership” don’t really count for much. Oftentimes, what you need to set your business apart is a job description that cuts through all the fluff. These job description best practices will move you ahead of the competition.

Starting Elements

Every job description has to have these elements in some form or fashion. Verbiage can be different, but the general idea needs to be there.

  • Job Title – This is just a title and a few sentences on why the position exists within your business.
  • Core Functions – List the top five responsibilities that candidates are expected to perform. Keep it short. Go with bullet points.
  • Skills/Qualifications – What skills or experience are necessary to complete the core functions of the job?
  • Company Overview – Honestly, a decent candidate should be able to do homework on their own, but this provides them with a good start. Feel free to toot your own horn and brag a bit. This is the first impression you get to make with the candidate. Make the most of it.
  • Location – Where is your office located? Is work from home an option? Also, include your business hours here.
  • Employee or 1099?
  • Salary/Benefits – Many businesses hold back here. That’s a mistake. During the job search process, employers hold nearly all the power. Meet your candidates in the middle and give them a fair idea of what’s in it for them.
  • Contact Info
  • Desired Start Date

Beyond the Basics

So you have the basic elements down and you’ve filled in all the details based on what you know about the position. There’s a 99% chance that what you’ve written is a very boring, dry, internal HR document.

Take the above list of basic job description elements and head over to marketing. A great job description is a piece of marketing literature. It’s the result of a combined effort of HR and marketing putting their heads together.

Great job descriptions, the ones that get real attention, help candidates to imagine themselves working at your business and compel them to act. The goal is to “hook” candidates with your job description so that they spend their own time learning about your company. Don’t overload candidates with information. Instead, motivate them to learn more. Strong candidates will do plenty of research on their own to fill in the gaps.

It’s OK to hunt around on the internet and find bits and pieces from other job descriptions, but you need to make the final product uniquely yours. The more unique, the more it will resonate with your ideal candidate. This is a good time to mention that great job descriptions turn some people off. That’s part of the deal. Those who are put off weren’t the right person for the job so it’s no loss.

Make it Personable

We get it. A piece of paper or an HTML page can’t be personable, but what you write on it definitely can. This is where you separate yourself from the pack and draw the top talent to you.

  • Customize your “About Us” information. Each department needs its own version. Details that will entice a sales rep are not the same as the details that will entice an accountant. Speak to their respective motivations and you’ll get more interest.
  • Insert keywords where you can. Most job board searches are performed using keywords selected by the job seeker. You, or marketing, should have a good idea of what these words are.
  • Add these 3 elements to the list that was provided above.

Opportunity – What’s in it for the candidate aside from a paycheck? What experience or tools will he or she develop in this position? What positions might be a fit for him or her after a few years of success? Appeal to their ambition and career focus.

Future – Where is your business going? What’s the mission? What does success look like?

Personality – What’s the personality of your office? Corporate culture is usually HR mumbo jumbo. Keep it simple and straightforward. What’s it like being in your office?

  • Make it about them. This is copywriting 101. You have to sell top candidates on the job. Keep the focus on the reader and what’s in it for them, not what’s in it for your business.
  • Be upfront and transparent. This will save you from wasting a lot of time interviewing the wrong people.
  • Just like this blog post, make liberal use of bullet points

What great job descriptions have you seen?