What's My Job, Again? The Fine Art of Crafting the Job Description
Don't settle for a mediocre job listing. Attract the ideal candidate by following this job listing advice.
It's the era of the Great Resignation. Employees are leaving their workplaces in search of other opportunities where a clear and reasonable delineation of responsibilities is commensurate with pay. Creating an attractive business opportunity starts with the job description.
Sensibly shaping the parameters of what an employee does is central to the scope of the candidate pool you receive. In my career, I've benefited from mostly excellent hires. My reports have grown within our respective organizations, effected substantial wins and eventually have taken the next step in their career while setting the stage for successors to step in seamlessly. For any company, that's a grand slam. I credit attracting those employees by piquing their interest in what our business had in store. Follow these principles for finding the ideal candidate and crafting the perfect job description.
Evaluate the job sustainability
Evaluate whether you are hiring for a single position or trying to save money by combining roles. If you are doing the latter, understand that your application pool will considerably shrink and you may have future challenges filling the position should you find an initial candidate willing to take on multiple roles for one paycheck. If a company is asking for too much in a job description or cannot create a cohesive narrative, chances are the company doesn't know what it's looking for. If you're an employer, take time to understand the needs you are looking to fill and approach the job market accordingly.
Create the correct job title
Many companies often start on the wrong foot by advertising a position as something it is not. For instance, if an organization is seeking a Finance Director, that role should not be executing the day-to-day tasks of a staff accountant. Different skills suit different professions, and just because a person can be malleable doesn't mean you should masquerade a job as something it is not.
Some of this may result from reducing headcount or poor scaling. Still, it's detrimental to your business and to somebody who recognizes the position and title don't mesh and therefore won't apply. You will also miss out on candidates looking for those particular tasks and never find them because the job is mistitled.
Lead with the company description
Introducing a potential candidate to your company puts the bigger picture in context. As an employer, you want to excite talent. This can be accomplished with a few critical sentences about your company and where it's going. Purpose and direction give applicants confidence in organizations because it shows that the leadership knows its business and is already mindful of the future.
Too much explanation, conversely, is a huge detractor. A company with too much explanation will come off as too self-involved and trigger a warning that the organization cares much more about showcasing the institution than the person it is trying to attract. A short and effective "about us" with a link to the company website will encourage subsequent research on the prospective workplace. As P.T. Barnum put it, "always leave them wanting more."
Keep tasks and core competencies in scope
A workplace engineer should not be assigned to project manage or supervise clean-up. Position responsibilities and qualifications should reflect only what's necessary to perform the job. There is nothing more deterring to a potential candidate than reading a long laundry list of responsibilities when many are standard with the position. In contrast, others have no place being there. Instead, focus on what is genuinely essential that you want to convey to the candidate and bullet it.
For entry-level positions, the responsibilities will likely be all-encompassing. For those familiar with the job market, they will know there are tasks affiliated with core competencies that are the norm — covering areas of accountability in your description as well. This gives the applicants a sense of empowerment before applying for the position. Everyone wants to feel important, and showing a candidate where they'd have ownership takes the first step towards trust.
Only require specifics on education and accreditations if there is an absolute need. You don't want to hire a surgeon who hasn't graduated from medical school, but you don't need an MBA to oversee operations, just practical experience. Listings often ask for a degree or substantial years of work in the field. A quality candidate is rarely defined by the degrees they've attained or years they have under their belt. There are plenty of PhDs who wouldn't survive a month in a job outside of academia, and there are people who've held their positions for decades and have done satisfactory work at best. The strength of a candidate should be based on proven success and their abilities in communication. These two things are required to thrive competently — otherwise, you're missing out on great candidates.
Be transparent and flexible with salary
Ultimately, a company's relationship with an employee is temporary and transactional. How long an employee stays there depends on the environment, opportunity and growth. There are fewer more-strenuous burdens on a company and its employees than rehiring for a position whose tenure was much shorter than reasonably anticipated. Good faith in employee retention begins with a salary commensurate with the position and organization size. However, using the word commensurate in place of any salary description is vague and unappealing. It's just as unattractive as attaching a singular and fixed monetary value.
Providing a salary range is a great way to attract candidates because it shows flexibility from the employer. After all, part of the fun in getting a new job is negotiating your base wages. If employee and employer can at least meet somewhere in the middle, the relationship will have already shown promise.
Don't postpone health benefits
Indicating the withholding benefits during the probationary period is problematic. More and more companies are doing this, and it's a signal that the employer is already concerned about position retention. This sends a red flag to qualified candidates who will turn their job-hunt focus elsewhere. If a company can offer benefits, which I firmly believe any organization can and should, the benefits should be available upon your start date. It's vital, especially during a pandemic, for companies to offer health benefits to full-time employees. This is not only the right thing to do but shows a potential applicant that the company cares for the well-being of its employees.
Proofread the job description
There's nothing less attractive in a job description than spelling and grammar mistakes. It signals two things: first, that management doesn't care enough about the position to give it a "once over." Secondly, that work is produced carelessly at the organization, or the staff responsible for putting out the job description are overworked and their time is thinly spread. Organizations should enact due diligence in ensuring every "i" is dotted and every "t" is crossed. It is the part of the process that is most perilous if done poorly. A grammatically intact job description will bode competence, professionalism, and a commitment to integrity. Candidates look for stability, and proofreading your description shows that the bar for performance is judiciously set.
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