How to Humanize Your Job Descriptions

Most job listings are dull and underwhelming. That’s not been an issue in the last few years when it’s been essentially a buyer’s market. But today, when talent is increasingly in demand, what is the response to a ho-hum job ad?  Dead silence. Your candidates are going on to the next job listing. Meanwhile, a good chunk of your budget is sitting in career site spend and job advertisements on the most popular job boards. Why not make the most of your recruiting budget? 

The best job descriptions focus far less on candidate requirements or skill sets and more on the lifestyle option of choosing THIS job at THIS company. Candidates don’t apply for positions filled with organizational lingo and dull depictions of daily drudgery. Job seekers are drawn to an image of culture and will stay to apply if the description fits their ideal and if they feel inspired enough to move forward. Are you showing people what life looks like at your company?

Your corporate drivel needs to go

If it’s a company specific acronym, leave it out of the job ad. Job seekers won’t relate to the language of your organization. Focus on what the position requires but not in a boring way. No person in the history of jobseeking has ever applied for a position because it was broken into percentages. Create an accurate depiction of what their day might look like; who they’ll work with, what they’ll accomplish and how they’ll be measured. Get bonus points by describing what success looks like within your organization! 

It’s a picture of personality

Once you’ve removed the technical language from the job description, you have the opportunity to insert pieces of your company culture. Liz Ryan (@humanworkplace), CEO and Founder of Human Workplace said:

“An old adage says a person’s eyes are windows to his soul. You can think of job ads the same way - as windows to the corporate soul (or startup or institutional soul). A job ad tells you loads about the organization that wrote it and posted it.”

She goes on to detail some of the most important questions to ask while writing the job description:

1.     Does the job description give an insight into the organization beyond the industry?

2.     Does the job description say why the position is open?

3.     Does the job description give a pay rate?

4.     Does the job description give reasons to read further into the career?

5.     Does the job description provide information on work schedule flexibility and location?

6.     Does the job description allocate details on company culture?

Include a little bit of company style in the job description as well. In order to give the job seeker an accurate picture of what it feels like to work at the company, use language that would match the employer brand. For example, you wouldn’t use the same style for a job description for a creative position as you would for a financial position but you do want these two differently skilled people to be able to understand they are going to be working at the same company. Choose your words wisely as they can affect the candidate pool for the position, but maintain your company brand lest too many different descriptions will muddy the waters.

Include the necessities

What does the position actually require? Many job descriptions are embellished with requirements the position doesn’t really need. Quality candidates who may not fit the embellished bill of requirements may see the posting and quickly move onto the next. Does the job honestly require five or more years of experience? Unless it’s for a leadership position, the answer is probably not. While listing out the “preferred” items, keep in mind that truly qualified people may pass for fear that they may not meet your high standards and studies show that women are less likely to “swing” for jobs out of their known experi.... By pulling in every wish list you have for the position, you may even be inadvertently affecting the diversity of your talent pool!

97% of HR professionals say accurate job descriptions are important to recruit for an open position. It stands to reason that job descriptions should include frivolous “necessities” but rather what the position truly requires of an employee. Spend time with your hiring team to decide what the job requires and what qualifications a candidate would need in order to be a good fit for the position both culturally and functionally.

Remove the company jargon from the job description. Candidates will be turned away from applying if they feel the position lacks culture or personality. Candidates will also click to the next job posting if they feel like they don’t truly qualify for the position. You have to spend time creating these job descriptions so you don’t write embellished responsibilities at the cost of losing qualified talent. The best job descriptions focus on what makes the position and the company stand out from other opportunities. 

Bio: Raj Sheth

Raj Sheth is the CEO & co-founder of Recruiterbox, an online recruitment software and applicant tracking system designed especially for growing companies. Prior to Recruiterbox, he founded two other web startups -- a classifieds portal and an ecommerce site. He is a graduate of Babson College and spent the first three years of his career as a financial analyst with EMC Corporation in Boston. Learn more about Recruiterbox right now.

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Tweet us at @Recruiterbox.

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