How to Use Your Job Descriptions to Weed Out Poor Candidates
Before you hop online to post that new job description for the hire you needed yesterday, stop. The effort you spend on the front end writing a great job description will save your organization time and money; you won’t be wasting precious time sifting through endless resumes of people who don’t have the right skill set or won’t be a good fit. You may get fewer applicants, but you’ll get more of the ones you want to hire.
First you need to decide what the ideal candidate looks like. To define that, speak to people currently in the role, and their supervisors. Where does the role lead? What are the growth opportunities?
In effect, the job description is the starter sales tool for your company – it’s the first way for you to “sell” your company to the right candidate. “They (applicants) want to understand your products and what you stand for,” says Rebecca Barnes-Hogg, founder and CEO of YOLO Insights. “Your ad needs to tell them that. The first few sentences need to capture the candidate’s attention. Like any effective sales pitch, make it about them and their interests.”
Here are six tips for writing better job descriptions:
1. Start strong with a catchy headline and searchable keywords
Which would you be more apt to click on: “Entry level customer service rep” or “Love solving people’s problems? We’ll train you to be a top-notch customer service rep”?
2. Make the job listing compelling
How you “speak to” a writer could be very different from how you “speak to” someone in IT. Tell a story, create a connection. You’ve got to catch job seekers with compelling, accurate job descriptions with personality. The kind that tells the candidate this would be a great job and a great place to work.
3. Format counts
Your ideal candidate might find your posting while scanning on their mobile phone, on a tablet, while they are multitasking. You must convey information quickly and succinctly. Make sure it’s well-organized. Use bullets, short paragraphs, and descriptive headers.
4. Be clear about what you want
A laundry list of what the job entails and what skills you’re looking for can be very boring and generic-sounding. Is that going to get the right someone interested in the open position? Probably not.
First, describe the technical skills that are “must haves” – the objective skills such as “must type 80 words per minute.” Then describe the competencies that are more open to subjective interpretation. The more specific you are, the more likely the right people will be applying for the job. For example, most people might think they are “good communicators” but what does a “good communicator” look like at your company? By being more specific: “will lead interdepartmental groups, get key stakeholders to buy into marketing’s goals, and act as the company’s spokesperson at national conferences” you convey a much better idea of what communications skills you really need.
5. Include information about where the job can lead
Few people want a dead-end, no-growth, “I want to kick back and coast for the next 20 years” kind of job. (At least no one that you would want to hire.) So, in the job description, include how an employee can grow in the job and advance.
6. The posting should be honestly reflective of the job and the company
What is your mission, what are your values and the company culture? Do you just talk the talk or walk the walk? Do you walk and talk at the same time? Give a prospective applicant information so they can get a sense of whether they’re a good fit in your organization. What adjectives describe your company? Playful? Intense? Flexible? Structured? Collegial? An applicant should get an accurate sense of the company’s personality from the job description.
As they say, “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” Make your job description work for you. AHA! Impressions has years of bringing together companies and top candidates, and can help you research and write this primary and all-important sales tool and manage any and all stages of the job application process. Contact us today to see how we can work for you.
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