How to Improve the Most Vital Component of Your Recruiting Efforts

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Sometimes we put too much emphasis on the shiny new HR Technology product or the trending social media site and assume that it’s the answer to our recruitment challenges.

The truth is if you really want to make an impact on your recruiting strategies this year, take a look at something that’s been in existence for years — the company job description.

Your job descriptions play an integral role in recruiting candidates, and yet we’ve ignored them for years, only to see them wither away in obscurity.

Most active candidates come across your job descriptions as the first touch-point with your brand, and even passive candidates check out a job description to see if a potential role interests them (most recruiters will even send a direct link to the candidate). Candidates can hit dozens of job descriptions before coming to yours, so how are you separating yourself from your competitors?

So, with that in mind, here are 6 ways to turn your job descriptions into an effective recruiting tool.

1. Understand your goals

Like any other strategy you put in place, take a step back and understand what your goals are. For a job description, you have two goals: to inform and then drive action based on a candidate match. It’s not — I repeat, it’s NOT — to detail every possible task that employee will have to handle over the coming years. Inform and motivate. Those are your goals.

2. Format and flow

OK, so keeping your goals in mind, you want to consider the structure of your story (and yes, a job description should be considered a short story). Here’s the structure that I’ve found very effective:

  • A strong opening with 2-3 sentences about the role itself. Explain it in a concise way that speaks to the broader meaning and purpose of the job.
  • Then, move into WHY a candidate should join your company. Skip the corporate jargon and go straight into your employee value proposition and core brand values.
  • A short, bulleted list of key duties and responsibilities and minimum qualifications. Target 5-7 bullets.
  • Bring it to a close with a longer explanation of the company, what you do and why it matters and end with a strong call to action to encourage the viewer to hit that big, shiny apply button.

As well, consider some visual ways you can freshen up your job descriptions too.

3. SEO friendly titles

A job title is not the place to get cute. Stick to the standard, widely-known way to refer to the job. Remember, it has to show up in a search result, and I don’t know any candidate who searches for “Senior Road Warrior Sales God” (yes, I’ve seen that).

4. Word count

There is some debate to the appropriate length of a job description, but for most jobs, I recommend short and sweet. Keep it around 500-700 words.

5. Language

Stay true to your brand voice and understand, once again, your goals. You want to put your employer brand front and center, and realize you’re speaking to a person who’s interested in a new career. Inform them what it’s like to work @ ABC company and inspire them to join the team.

In addition, there are tools out there (like Textio) that can help evaluate your language choice from a diversity perspective, as well as overall grammar and word usage.

6. Consistency

For many larger organizations, it becomes a challenge of who writes the job descriptions and how to keep them consistently over time. This is worth your time to figure out. Otherwise, you could spend lots of time and effort upfront creating the best job description ever, only to see it get watered down and edited months later until you no longer recognize it. Put a formalized structure in place.

Revitalizing your job descriptions requires internal partnerships at most companies, but shouldn’t take a dollar from your budget. That in itself is a win. Your job description is quite possibly the most visible aspect of your recruitment efforts, and with some improvements, could provide you the greatest return as well.


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Author: Adam Glassman

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