Anatomy of a Modern Job Description
A job description serves many important functions. It defines the role and the responsibilities of a job. It lists the skills and qualifications required to do a job. It's used for staffing, and compensation planning, and performance management. For all of these things, a well-written outline of the job usually works just fine. But there's also the first, and perhaps most important function of a job description—recruiting.
First Impressions Matter
Recruiting starts with the job description. It's usually the very first communication between the employer and a prospective candidate. In a mobile-first, content-crowded arena, your public job description carries a lot of weight. It can influence action, or it can be overlooked, or even completely ignored. The job description is a tool, and when used correctly, it can recruit for you.
What makes a great job description?
For the purpose of recruiting, the job description should be functional. It should have a role in your recruitment workflow. So, what is your job description's job?
Attract & Engage
We are all swimming in information. Whether we seek it out or not, information is all around us. As great as that can be, it has forced people to create filters. Think about how you consume content. What makes you stop to learn more? What type of information attracts you? For job seekers and passive candidates, the pool they're swimming in is filled with job postings that basically look the same. However, as communication has shifted to social media platforms, and the window for sharing information has shrunk to an even smaller screen, visually engaging content has become indispensable in the competition to attract and engage talent.
Including a video is one of the best ways to accomplish many of the goals of the job description. It's personal, it's informative, it's interesting, it's highly shareable and mobile-friendly, and it provides a genuine introduction to everyone who visits the page. Video is powerful. If you create a job-specific video, it should be the focal point of the job description. General company videos are great, but if you record a short video, specific to the position, it connects with candidates in a way that text just can't.
As a content consumer, is there anything that you look for online that is not enhanced by images? We all carry a camera in our pocket, and we take and share pictures everyday. Career decisions are just as important as any in life, so sharing a window into the workplace helps candidates visualize being there and demonstrates transparency. Show off your digs, your people, and your events. It can make a huge difference.
Market & Sell
When recruiting, a job description has to be more than a description. It needs to be informing and educating, but it also needs to promote the organization, and persuade the candidate. The actual description of the job is just one part of the formula.
Why should job seekers want to apply to this job? That question should be answered in every job description that you publish. Put yourself in the job seeker's shoes. What is my role within the organization? What kind of influence do I have? What kind of people will I be working with? What future opportunities will there be? How successful is the company? These are just a few questions that the value proposition can cover. If you're unsure of what to share, ask your employees what they love about working for your company.
Compensation & Benefits
While many employers still shy away from publishing salary information, some studies have shown that compensation is the most important element of the job description to job seekers, and that listing compensation dramatically increases engagement. The question to ask is whether the reason for withholding the information is more important than what can be gained by sharing it.
Providing a list of benefits can also be a significant differentiator and selling factor.
Similar to any consumer decision, job seekers will research companies. There are several popular platforms that share employer information and accolades, and publish personal experiences from actual employees. Providing access to this information within the job description saves time for the candidate, promotes transparency, and promotes your employer brand.
For everything that a job description can do, it only matters if it can drive results. How the job description is formatted, presented, and shared can determine how successfully it performs.
Networking is key to passive candidate sourcing, and what you share with candidates and potential referral sources makes a difference. Document attachments and job ads aren't always formatted for sharing, and rarely provide a complete picture. For best results, the job description should be a company-branded, standalone page that can be easily shared through social media channels, email, and text.
The call-to-action prompts should be the center of attention—prominent and easy to click. The layout should be mobile-responsive, and should adjust to promote the content and call-to-action clearly on any screen size.
Candidate experience starts at the very first interaction. It's important to stand out and make an impression, and it's just as important to make learning about, applying for, or sharing a job fun and easy.