Love it or hate it, the job description is a fact of business life…
The problem with many job descriptions? Too often, they are written to benefit the hiring company and not the person looking for a job. They also lack the essential information a job seeker needs to assess a company’s workplace culture and leadership style. Information such as “a day in the life” is rarely provided, nor is enough information about the position and team or department. Worse yet, many contain hidden bias. Plus, let’s face it, most job descriptions are boring.
Is that how we want potential employees to perceive our brand? Self-serving? Biased? Boring?
Poorly written job descriptions have a consistently negative impact on our organizations. They filter out good people and a more-diverse set of applicants. At the same time, they increase the risk of applications from unqualified candidates. Even worse, they become a root cause of poor job interviews and — worse yet — bad hires.
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But there are practical ways to humanize job descriptions. We can make them more reader-friendly and more focused on the job seeker. As employers, we can be seen as more approachable — more human.
Our Guest on #WorkTrends: Mark Herschberg
I invited Mark Herschberg — entrepreneur and author of the upcoming book, The Career Toolkit, Essential Skills for Success That No One Taught You to join me on #WorkTrends this week. We talked about how thoughtful companies are improving their job descriptions by writing them better — better for the employer brand, and to better attract and engage interested, qualified job talent.
Right away, Mark let me know I wasn’t alone with my frustration with how job descriptions are written, and how poorly they represent the hiring company: “The biggest problem is that most job descriptions look interchangeable. If you take any two, three, five, six job descriptions from different companies they all read the same,” Mark said. He went on to tell us this templated, generic approach does not serve the job seeker well. He then added: “This gets even more complicated when you start to think about what’s not in a job description — the human elements. “We leave out leadership or communication abilities. We don’t talk about the need to build relationships and have a strong network. Or even how important it is within the culture to have a sense of humor.”
The Job Description and Company Culture
We also talked about an issue near and dear to my heart: Company culture — and how employers can best describe their culture not just in a job description but during onboarding. “Culture is really important, but not the culture most people think of. When HR typically talks about culture, they talk about stated corporate values, things such as putting the customer first. But on a day to day basis, what work culture means to most people is how they interact with others. And that really comes down to communication.” Mark is right. And job descriptions are our first opportunity to communicate with a candidate, so must include that vital information.
Mark added: “Those water-cooler interactions or hallway conversations may have been a hallmark of your company’s communication before. But in today’s remote work world, they might not be taking place. So a job description should be explicit about how the company functions during normal times and how it functions today during the pandemic.”
Mark and I went on to talk more about how the COVID-19 crisis has impacted hiring and onboarding, how a job description should serve as a sales and marketing tool versus just a hiring tool, and so much more.
Enjoy the entire podcast. Then go start a discussion within your company about how you can help job descriptions become not just better hiring tools, but better representations of your company culture and brand!