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Writing the perfect job description

The employer must always remember that candidates are potential employees looking to progress their career through the right opportunities. Photo: Shutterstock.com

The employer must always remember that candidates are potential employees looking to progress their career through the right opportunities. Photo: Shutterstock.com

Job descriptions are at the core of the recruitment industry and generate the first impression of the role in question through the way they are presented to candidates. Therefore, they should act as a sales document.

However, they also run the risk of becoming commoditised, and possibly become a point of failure for many companies looking to recruit top talent. This becomes more dangerous in sectors with severe talent shortages, such as in the tech and finance industries.

There are many suggestions and ideal practices when it comes to communicating the ‘right’ job description. While there is no single, perfect method, here are some potential points of improvement.

Firstly, the job title used needs to clearly transmit the role being advertised. Using fancy job titles or complicated terms might harm a prospective candidate’s first impression and reduce their interest. If possible, indicate professional standing, seniority and what the job consists of – remember to be direct and to the point.

A short description must also be created, outlining the responsibilities. Again, this needs to be short and precise. This introduction needs to be interesting so potential candidates are encouraged to go further and read the full job description.

Whenever possible, a suggestion is to indicate the reporting line for the role. Explain to candidates who they need to report to, while also explaining their potential position within the company’s structure. While greater detail would be discussed at interview stage, candidates look out for such information before they apply.

Furthermore, providing examples of what the role’s responsibilities consist of is important. One should be transparent and honest with candidates, explaining the percentage of time a specific task may consume. It is understandable that a business which needs to recruit wants their ‘sales document’ to be as attractive as possible. However, being honest with candidates and potential employees should always be a top priority.

Another important step is listing skills and qualifications

The employer must always remember that candidates are potential employees looking to progress in their career through the right opportunities, so they must be empowered to believe that their services will be creating more value to the company. A good job description provides candidates with the ability to properly imagine what a typical day on the job consists of.

Putting candidates into the picture as to what to expect out of the role, as well as to inform them what would be expected of them from this role will help form a more serious first impression in their minds of the importance of the company and their significance if they are part of it.

Another important step is listing skills and qualifications. These are not only academic, but should include interpersonal, communication and general software skills – a good balance of both hard skills and soft skills should be listed to attract the right talent for the role. Moreover, certain jobs require a particular and specific certification to carry out duties. In this case, one must make sure this is clearly explained. If done properly, listing out the required and desired set of skills and qualifications saves time for both recruiter and candidate.

There are other suggested guidelines which can really elevate the document and distinguish it from the numerous, dull job descriptions candidates encounter on a daily basis. The first one is stating expectations for the role – each role comes with goals and objectives and, while exact key performance Indicators are not required at this stage, candidates need to understand the short and long-term objectives of the role.

If as a business, one is expecting the candidate to elevate the firm’s reputation or significantly modify business processes, this must be explained clearly in the job description. There is nothing wrong in saying that a particular role is challenging as, on the contrary, by doing so one will be more likely to draw in the best talent for the job.

Moving forward, a sensitive area for many companies is displaying salaries and benefits on the job description. While this is fully understandable, companies looking to employ need to also embrace the fact that candidates are constantly requesting this information. Several candidate surveys conducted, including by Castille, have consistently shown that roles without salary information receive significantly less interest. Providing candidates with this information will help them distinguish between jobs and understand the financial rewards in accordance with the duties and responsibilities.

These are only suggestions and cannot guarantee successful applications by the right candidates. However, if put into practice, the exercise will allow further opportunity to attract candidates with the desired qualities for the role. On the other hand, many other elements such as employer branding and reward structures affect the quantity and quality of applications received.

Nonetheless, by adopting these recommendations, a company will go a long way to providing factual information for candidates. They are also providing them with the ‘right’ information, making sure that interested candidates have the information they need to make a decision at this stage, that is whether to enquire for more information and apply for the role.

Christian Xuereb is brand and marketing manager at Castille.

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