Since the Age of the Internet, job requirements and qualifications have become more extensive. Nowadays, many job descriptions no longer reflect the actual duties of the role. Consequently, a prospective candidate may not know what to expect in the day-to-day work.

This was the topic of an insightful podcast hosted by iMPact Business Group, a strategic staffing company within the information technology, accounting/finance, and engineering fields.  I recently spoke with Matt Peale, President of iMPact, and Amanda-Lee Quirk, Nation Account Manager at Monster Worldwide. We discussed ways to improve job descriptions to attract more candidates with the required skills. Additionally, we discussed how to increase response rates.

Moderated by Mark Sapoznikov, iMPact’s Marketing Manager, the conversation covered reasons why job descriptions often fail to attract ideal candidates, as well as practical tips on how to improve the message. The highlights of the discussion focused on the need for an effective Employee Value Proposition and how the proposition should promote the company’s employment brand and culture. This will attract more qualified candidates and showcase the true value or purpose of the job.

“Job seekers are looking for opportunities where they are valued and can feel a sense of purpose in their job role.”

We also touched on how technology has both helped and hindered the creation of job descriptions. While the candidate experience and application process have received a lot of attention, most applicant tracking systems have focused on making it easier and faster to get the opening posted rather than crafting the optimal message.

When writing or re-writing a job description, think of it as an advertisement.

Many ATS systems offer generic checkboxes of skills, tasks, and responsibilities and standardized text or templates to enable job postings to be quickly created.Do you need help re-writing your job descriptions?

While this saves time for the recruiters, this does not improve the way to realistically describe the job or “market” the opportunity to the most desirable talent. By making it faster to post jobs, it’s easy to pass up the opportunity to make job descriptions better.

I often say that technology can help you do more of the wrong things faster, and this is especially true if you just want to post that “wish list” of job duties and requirements instead of “selling” the “what’s in it for me” to job seekers.

For better results, take the “recruiting is marketing” approach.

While the internal job description can still be that miles-long wish list, to attract the best-fit talent, take the time to “sell” the opportunity.

Next time you draft a job description, before posting, ask yourself:

1) Does this job description shows how the work adds value to the organization?

Remember, employees want to understand the value that they bring to the organization just as much as the value the position will bring to theme personally.

2) Does this position offer a candidate opportunity to learn, apply their creativity, or gain skills, ability and experience to advance their careers or make a difference?

Qualified candidates are no longer looking for a position that they will occupy for 40 years prior to retirement.  Opportunities to gain skills and advance their own careers ensures that they will combine company goals with their own personal goals.

3) Does the job description paint an accurate, realistic picture of the daily job duties, the work environment, and the company culture?

No one wants to feel like they have been lied to.  While you don’t have to be brutally honest, it is important not to add any content to your descriptions which could be seen as misleading when it comes to the job responsibilities, growth goals, company culture, or industry.

4) Is the message tailored to suit the media and the target audience?

When building a role it is important to understand the audience which you are appealing to.  While a software development professional may appreciate a long list of different software skills needed to be successful in the position an entry level copy writer may become overwhelmed by an overload of information.

5) Is the message framed in unbiased, gender-neutral terms?

This is becoming increasingly prevalent and while we may structure our job descriptions with unconscious bias, it is important to make an effort to structure your message in a way that can be accepted by everyone.

If the answer to any of these questions is no, make changes to better appeal to the desired applicants with a formula for great job descriptions.