Since the age of the internet, job requirements and qualifications have gotten longer and longer, and now most job descriptions no longer accurately capture what a prospective candidate will actually do 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 had the pleasure of speaking with Matt Peale, President of iMPact, and Amanda-Lee Quirk, Nation Account Manager at Monster Worldwide, about how job descriptions can be improved to appeal to more candidates aligned with the needed skills, and 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. Highlights included the need for a clear Employee Value Proposition, with emphasis on how to promote the employment brand and company culture to attract more qualified candidates and convey 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.

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?

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?

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

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

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

If the answer to any of these questions is no, make changes to better appeal to the desired applicants. Or maybe it’s time to ditch the job description altogether?

About the author

Sylvia Dahlby is a Business Development Manager at SmartSearch, an innovative recruiting business software platform. Sylvia has worked in the recruitment advertising & technology industry since 1978, and has worked remotely from home since 1990. She currently resides in Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii. She's an active member of SHRM Hawaii, Social Media Club Hawaii, Hilo Woman's Club, and volunteer at Kipaipai School of Art.