Must have, must do, must be…
Hiring managers, have you read your job descriptions lately? I mean really read and thought about them? I get it if you haven’t. You might assume HR is taking care of them. Or if you’re the one writing them, you might think, it’s been done a certain way for so long, you have to conform to the “typical” format and wording in order to not color outside the lines. Gotta have the usual “Looking for…” statement, the Duties and Responsibilities, the Requirements, etc.
Let’s see what “typical” sounds like from some real live company AND search firm job descriptions I’ve come across:
“The successful candidate will solicit the sale of bank services to businesses.”
This is about as bland as it gets.
“The successful candidate will be calling on mid to large organizations selling integrated Fintech software solutions.”
A little more context, but where is the challenge, the excitement, the differentiation?
“Strong business acumen and understanding of client operations.”
What does business acumen even mean? It’s one of those business cliché terms that could cover just about anything.
“Required to form real estate community networking referral partners such as; realtors, brokers and builders.”
Stated in a way that is one sided and not that compelling. What does this offer the candidate?
“Salary, commissions, 401K, benefits and career growth opportunities.”
Absolutely nothing value-added here.
“Must have strong presentation skills.”
“Must have consultative selling experience.”
Laundry list style. Elimination strategy approach that can discourage otherwise great candidates from applying.
If you’re looking to attract A-Player talent, consider that these folks are looking for challenge, differentiation, a unique value proposition, somewhere they can do their best work and live their best life, somewhere with stability and long-term career growth potential.
None of these examples communicate any of these elements in a specific, compelling way.
Don’t get me wrong. There are some companies out there starting to do a better job of differentiating their story in their job descriptions, but few are putting them into a format that truly sells their opportunity. Very few show candidates how happy they could be there, how they could do the best work they’ve ever done, and how they’re going to live a great life while doing it.
Think about when you’re bringing in target customers at the top of your funnel. You attract and engage first, THEN qualify. Job descriptions that do little to attract and engage, and seek to eliminate using laundry lists of must-haves run the risk of turning off the best candidates before they even get into your funnel.
According to the 2017 Talent Board North American Candidate Experience Research Report, “Candidates want three things during the Attract phase: a clear understanding of the company culture, insight into the employee experience and a sense of connection with the overall brand.”
On that note, I encourage all leaders and talent acquisition professionals to take a fresh eye to their job descriptions and reconsider how they’re structured and worded. Check in with your search partners as well; I’ve found that most recruiting firms are also not presenting their clients’ opportunities in a compelling way that would attract top performers.
If you’re one of the few doing something different and innovative, that’s great news! Keep doing it and keep improving on it. On the other hand, don’t beat yourself up if you find your job descriptions lacking. You’ve been guided by long-standing templates and styles that have been slow to evolve. They may have their place for internal HR purposes. But a different type of presentation is needed for attracting top talent.
Next time, I’ll delve into some strategies I’ve learned and customized to my own practice to design exactly this kind of elevated presentation – a Job Invitation that will attract and intrigue A-Players. It’s a game changer.
Get ready to put on your marketers’ hat and start thinking like a copywriter!