Things to keep in mind when writing job descriptions

Things to keep in mind when writing job descriptions

When it comes to job postings, the search process can be a little overwhelming. And when candidates are overwhelmed, it winds up hurting the hiring companies.
Applicants today are faced with creative, wordy descriptions of companies looking for motivated individuals who can “hit the ground running” in an “exciting and fast-paced environment.” The problem is, job-seekers don’t know what that means.
These vague descriptions could apply to almost any job; the phrases could pop up in a posting for a senior-level finance position or a preschool teacher.
And you might think a creative post will stand out and draw candidates in, but usually the opposite happens. Job-seekers want a clear picture of what their day-to-day will look like, not a good story.
Suzanne Lucas, of Evil HR Lady, has four tips for writing clearer job descriptions that will help your company attract the right applicants.
1. Pick a job title that makes sense
Your company might use creative job titles, but the typical candidate is searching for very straightforward ones. If you call your IT Manager a Chief Technical Problem Solver, it could not only confuse a candidate, but they could miss the posting altogether. Use a job title that would make sense to everyone.
2. Paint an accurate picture of the day-to-day duties
A lot of job postings focus on what the candidate will have to produce, but not what’s involved in producing it. Job-seekers want to know what the end goal is, but they also want to know what their day-to-day will look like while working toward that goal.
For example, the end product of creating a monthly sales report could mean very different things for someone’s daily tasks. This project could involve one person sitting down and organizing data, or it could mean multiple team members working to prepare a big presentation. An introvert who likes to work alone would enjoy the first method and absolutely hate the second one. Including the day-to-day as well as the end goals will ensure you get applicants who fully understand what is expected of them.
3. Describe what the perks look like
Many descriptions have generic statements like “flexible schedules” and “great benefits.” But what do these mean? And what specific jobs do they apply to?
Most roles at the company may be eligible for flexible hours, but if the position you’re posting about requires someone to have rigid hours, don’t advertise flexible schedules as a company perk. If a certain benefit doesn’t apply to every position, don’t talk about it.
And even if flexible hours do apply to the position, are there any exceptions? Is there a busy season where the employee will have set hours? Let them know.
4. Don’t forget about the legal side
Make sure your job description complies with any federal or local laws. Be careful with any wording that could seem discriminatory. If you say you’re looking for someone “young and energetic,” that could be considered discrimination against older applicants.
Include all essential job functions, especially if there are physical tasks, like lifting or climbing. This is important for ADA purposes — if a job function isn’t listed in the description, you’ll have a hard time arguing that it’s essential.
And remember, honesty is key. You don’t want to oversell the role in a way that deceives thejob-seeker. Let them know exactly what they’ll be doing. This way, you can attract people who will truly do well in the role.

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