It’s the job description, stupid.

I know you’ve heard it before.

I’m certain that HR has pretty much blasted you with the idea that a good job description is the foundation for effective hiring and performance management practices.   And I’m even more certain that you probably come up with the same excuses, with the same tired roll of the eyes.

“I don’t have time to write a job description.”  Or, “I don’t even know where to begin.”

Well, it’s time to stop making excuses and simply get it done.   A bad job description, or worse, lack thereof is costing you time and money.

Forget the myriad of legal reasons why a job description (JD) is important (i.e. to reduce the risk of unfair hiring practices, to comply with the American with Disabilities Act, to ensure appropriate FLSA status—just to name a few).  A good JD is needed to hire the right kinds of people.  Why?  Because an accurate job description is the link between potential employees and your company.  Quite simply, the JD provides candidates with a snapshot of who you are, what you do, and what’s expected of them.

Think of the JD as the blueprint for success. Companies that have accurate job descriptions are more likely to hire employees who perform better and stay longer.  Retention, after all, is a money saver and revenue driver.

See the link?

Now, everyone knows that a standard JD must include the requisite title, reporting structure, essential duties, and qualifications of the job.  Yet, to really make your JD stand out, you need to give potential employees a glance at what the work environment is like.

(Oh, yeah…you have to update them regularly too.  You can’t just write the JD once and forget about it).

So, you might wonder how to provide a candidate a glimpse of your culture?  Let’s take a look:

  • Reflect the spirit of the company:  Don’t be too descriptive and don’t be too vague.  Use clear, everyday language that is concise and specific.
  • Be transparent:  Vague wording makes it hard for candidates to picture themselves in the role and to figure out if they would actually enjoy working there. Stay away from the standard, “must be able to multi-task,” and try instead, “must thrive in an environment where no two-days are alike and the ability to juggle multiple tasks is appreciated.”
  • Be direct in defining duties:  Avoid soft descriptors such as “often” or “sometimes” and organize job duties according to hours or percentage of time spent on each.
  • Capture your company’s vibe:  Use nomenclature that coincides with your culture.  A job description for a tech start-up should read differently than a job description for a large investment bank.  So, use a writing style that reflects the sentiment and feelings of your work environment.  If that means injecting colorful language into your JD, then go for it.   Remember, you want to attract candidates who are right for you.
  • Use bullet points:  Bullet points make it easier on the eyes to skim content.  See how easy it was read these tips?

Have you seen any job descriptions recently that have caught your eye?   If so, let us know what makes them so appealing. 

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