The hiring market
Hiring the right people has never been more important but it has also never been more difficult.
The hiring market is the wild west. On one hand, we've seen a lot of layoffs in the tech industry due to the current macroeconomic environment, resulting in a surplus of highly skilled workers looking for new jobs.
On the other hand, job seekers have become more picky about where they work, looking for companies that share their values and offer stability and provide opportunities for growth.
It's a hugely competitive market and companies are having to be more strategic than ever to attract and keep the best talent. And it all starts with a good job description.
Why a good job description is important for maximum impact
When it comes to hiring, a good job description can make all the difference and is an essential component of the hiring process. It can be instrumental in leading to a successful match between employer and potential employee, acting like a roadmap that helps all parties understand what's expected of them.
Including clear and concise details like the specific skills, qualifications, and experience required for the position can help to attract the right candidates while deterring unqualified applicants. Consequently, you therefore don't have to sift through a mountain of irrelevant resumes wasting precious time.
A good job description also establishes clear objectives and expectations for the role. This way there are no surprises for the new starter thereby preventing any misunderstandings or conflicts down the road.
Looking more long term, job descriptions serve as a useful benchmarking tool to gauge performance. Increasingly, companies are using job descriptions to analyse effectiveness and development opportunities for employees from probation meetings and beyond.
4 elements that make a good job description
Here are 4 things to think about when writing your next JD in order to make them stand out:
- Overview of role and company
This should go without saying but a clear and concise summary of the position and the company should be top of your list. Often vital in order to attract top talent, this will be the first port of call to potential candidates to decide whether this could be the role for them and worth putting their precious time and energy into. At a minimum, it should provide a high-level understanding of the position and address the key tasks and responsibilities the candidate would be expected to perform in the role.
- Company culture and benefits
Culture is everything and can be a real differentiator when candidates are making a decision. ‘Will I fit in’, ‘will I enjoy working here’ and ‘can i see myself being friends with my colleagues’ are all questions that will be asked so it is important to address them.
Highlighting perks is a common way to do this but we have come a long way from the free fruit era and what is truly valued is flexible working, development opportunities and wellness packages amongst other things. However, it is important to be authentic and highlight real benefits they can expect.
This section should also give insight into the company's mission and values, getting the candidates excited to be a part of a collective mission they can see themselves contributing to.
- Good structure and format
Structure and formatting is a simple way to convey vital information in a digestible and clear way ensuring you are attracting the right talent.
In today’s market, it can take anywhere from 100 to 200 applications to receive a single job offer meaning job seekers are reading a huge volume of job ads so it is crucial you don’t alienate potential candidates through making the already stressful experience of a job search even more stressful.
Candidates will thank you for doing simple things like:
- Keeping it short and hyper relevant
- Using bullet points
- Not using large bodies of text
- Clear headings and sections
- Putting most important info in bold
While being mysterious might be sexy, candidates respect and seek out transparency especially when it comes to things like pay. We have all seen those LinkedIn threads of people saying, ‘If the salary is so competitive, why don’t you just tell us what it is’.
Salary is one of the first things candidates will look for with LinkedIn research showing that 61% of professionals citing it being the most important part of the job description.
It is about finding a balance though as while it can streamline processes and ensure the correct calibre of individual is applying, it can also draw attention away from the opportunity at hand. So weigh up the pros and cons but we would recommend it.
4 common mistakes made in job descriptions
Stay away from these 4 common mistakes in order to avoid missing out on some serious talent:
- Discriminatory language
Strength comes from diversity and that is never more true than in startups where differing opinions and approaches are paramount to iterating quickly and finding creative solutions. But all too often, however inadvertently, words and phrases that can be construed as discriminatory are being used which have an effect on applications.
Biased language resulted in men applying for 13% more jobs than women because of ‘gender-coded language’ in adverts. Whereas the use of gender neutral language in your job listings can in fact get 42% more responses and result in positions being filled 2 weeks quicker on average.
So in order to not alienate potentially amazing candidates, ensure the language used is balanced and inclusive. If you aren’t sure, there are some amazing augmented writing tools out there that can help.
- Internal language and terminology
We get it. We too have shorthand and internal specific language. However, to the outside world, it can sometimes leave them scratching their head and wondering what the hell you are talking about.
There will be plenty of time for the hired individual to get up to speed with all your acronyms and internal jargon when they start but to avoid putting them off, keep it well out of the job description.
- Job post length
While it may be tempting to try to get as much info across as possible, it could actually damage candidate conversion and there is a lot of research that indicates a short job post is a good job post.
In fact, short job posts, up to 300 words, tend to perform much better than anything longer and on average see upwards of 8% more applicants on average.
With 50% of candidates using their mobile devices to apply for roles, short job ads could make all the difference.
- Be realistic
We all want a superhero to join the team but it’s important to provide an accurate representation of the required skillset to perform in the advertised role.
While it may be tempting to include every skill under the sun, unrealistic requirements are off putting especially to women. So identify what’s required and only include the must-have skills in the ads. Everything else can be learnt on the job or invested in should the responsibilities change.
Easy right? Well no. Because that is only the start.
After this comes the promotion of the job ad, the amplification, the interviews, the heartbreaking nos and that thrilling yes. It may be a lot to think about but the joy of bringing on a new team member to help you achieve your vision is something truly exciting.
We leave you with one last bit of advice which is to over communicate. Both to candidates and internally.
Make sure you communicate internally to help with the amplification of ads, referrals from network and the structure of the interview process ensuring the smoothest process possible.
And make sure you communicate with candidates, both for the positive and negative, ensuring you leave them with the best possible experience regardless of outcome. The business world is small and you never know who will crop back up later down the line.