Why do job descriptions matter?

why job descriptions matter

Why do job descriptions matter?

8192 5461 Mita Mandawker

Did you know that 61% of employed candidates said an interesting job description would prompt them to consider a new job? Another study says a prospective candidate spends only 14 seconds reading your job ad.
Yes, you heard right, 14 seconds. That’s it.

What does this say about the importance of job descriptions, given that they are the first outreach you do as an employer to your prospective candidates? They are incredibly important and can’t be ignored. You can’t simply copy-paste the same old job descriptions when you last closed that position, be it a 6 months ago or 3 years ago.

Our candidate survey in Kenya tells us that over half of the candidates use the job description to learn more about what it’s like to work at a company- over Glassdoor and all social media platforms. Employers must be mindful of making the best of the 14 seconds attention span to communicate why they make the best employers and what they have to offer to the candidates.

Crafting a compelling job description that will help you attract the best talent has never been more important in a competitive talent market.

We are going to share tips to keep in mind while drafting your job descriptions (or in other words, your sales pitch to the candidates).

A few pointers to keep in mind before drafting JDs:

Evaluate the context you are hiring for

The most important and overlooked step before drafting JDs is to evaluate the position you are hiring for in the context of the team you are hiring for. Every role you hire for is an opportunity for the company to drive the growth of the business. The best fit is found when there is growth for both the person you are hiring for the position and the company. Always try and find the best fit. The person you hire will flourish in the role and so will the organization in the area the person was hired for.

Think of future needs when writing JDs

Never write job descriptions based on what the “last person” in the role did. Your JD should reflect the current and future needs of the business that particular position will fulfil and not be based on what was being done historically. This is a forward-looking approach, sadly ignored by most companies. When JDs account for the future needs, the prospective candidate gets the most accurate picture of what the job would entail and can evaluate if they can be a right fit for the role.

The rationale for using this approach is, when job descriptions are posted without any evaluation or deliberation about the needs of the business, they don’t tend to account for the role changes that occur over time. As a result, quite a few job seekers may not be able to identify with the role you have scripted and you may lose out on great talent.

Remember you are selling your job
Before you start reading on the minutiae of writing job descriptions, remember you are selling the role or the open position. Make sure you give compelling reasons to candidates to leave their current workplace or choose your job over others in the market. Make it easy for them to decide – share details of the perks, benefits that you offer and most importantly how the role contributes towards the company’s growth.

Writing winning job descriptions

We have already done one super informative deep dive into writing engaging and inclusive job descriptions earlier here. We stand by those tips and will be sharing some more below to help you improve your ability to write great job descriptions.

First impressions are important
Job descriptions are often the first point of contact the candidates will have with your company and the way it is written will shape their impression of your organization. Mistakes in your job description turn off the candidate and leave them with a negative impression, much the same as the impact of when you see grammatical mistakes or jargon in resumes.

So mind your ps and qs, and have someone double-check the copy before going live with the job posts.

Showcase your culture, use multimedia
Get creative, use images and videos to communicate your organisation’s vision, mission and values. Don’t just rely on plain text to do all of the work. Our experience (as a staffing and recruiting company) has shown us that candidates engage well with JDs that have images and videos showcasing your work culture and people. It gives them a sense of your culture and employer brand.

Include pictures of your office, staff and traditions, and work environment to give an idea about how your team works. This helps candidates understand your culture and positions you as an attractive employer.

Involve current employees in writing job descriptions
Most often, the HR department is involved in writing job descriptions and they traditionally do it based on the last JD they had written for the role. Involve current employees working in that position or department to make sure that JD reflects the realities of the job and future growth. A person working in the position is in the best place to tell you if what you have in JD is what they do and what the next person can expect when they step in the role.

The more accurate a description you share, the better understanding your candidates will have of the role.

Bust biases
We can never stress this enough – when you say, you are an equal opportunities employer and do not discriminate against candidates based on their gender, race, sexuality, etc. it’s important that your JDs also reflect that.

Make sure you are not using gendered language in the JD. For example, words such as ninja, rockstar, and guru, are associated with male stereotypes, while words such as support, understand and interpersonal are associated with female stereotypes. Gender-biased language can be subtle, but it is still detrimental. Recent data has also shown that gender-neutral language can help companies attract a more diverse talent pool and fill vacancies faster. While biased language deters highly qualified talent from applying by unconsciously lowering their sense of fitting in the role and the organization.

We hope all this has given you a good idea of why job descriptions matter and how writing a great JD will help communicate an honest picture of your position and brand to the prospective candidates. This will help you attract the best talent to your company.

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