Job Descriptions – Are they part of your ad content, written to your audience, and, “How are they working out for you?”

I got more involved in writing, editing and re-writing job descriptions when I worked in the corporate recruiting world than ever before. Since that time I still get involved in editing and re-writing. I am guilty of not always asking permission but then I may not get it, and, after all, I am doing it in the best interest of my client and candidate. So, what’s the harm?

How did I ever get involved in doing what Hiring Managers and HR should have been providing me to work with? If you ever looked at what I had to work with you would wonder no more. The job descriptions had so much irrelevant and duh information in them that if I could not understand them how could I expect potential candidates to understand them. Fortunately I did understand them because I knew what we were to look for. That is when I decided something had to be done about it. Here is my story and I am sticking to it.

This corporation that I worked for is a Fortune 500 company. I worked at one of their premier business units supporting them and one additional business unit in another location. Both business units stored their job descriptions in a database and recycled them when business grew or turnover happened. Some of the job descriptions were years old. The Hiring Manager was responsible to select the job description they wanted to use, approve its use by forwarding it to HR and that is what was posted. They were not anxious, inclined or knew how to edit or re-write it to fit the new hire needs. Big mistake. HR just took for granted its approval and moved forward. When I got involved after hiring on something needed to be done as this was far less than ideal.

My previous experience was to talk with the Hiring Manager to discuss what they are looking for, what the person would be tasked to do, what the Hiring Manager’s must haves were and what were the hot buttons. Getting to know the Hiring Manager and getting this information helped me know what I was looking for. It also helped me with developing an excellent job description that attracted all the right attention. It worked for me instead of against me.

Although I branded my company (client) in the job description and wrote with marketing appeal, I did follow a KIS process and wrote the job description to appeal to the audience, the candidate. I would think of “what would the candidate be looking for and see when looking at MY job description?” Would they be able to say, “that’s me!” Everything was focused, concise and to the point. I use a bulleted format for ease of reading and feel the points of the job description stand out better. I would make sure key words that a candidate would use in a search were included in the job description, as many as possible in all the right places (not over done). The layout would be a brief Job Summary (set up much like an Objective on a resume), Job Responsibilities (set up much like the responsibilities you would see on the candidates resume for the position(s) they have/had held), Skills Required and Education. With a simple, to the point, job description. I wanted to be sure that the candidate, their resume and the job description would connect. The best way to connect is when the job description is written similar to the resume it is trying to communicate and connect with.

What did not go in a job description were phrases such as “perform other duties as assigned” and “interpersonal skills and ability to interface at all levels.” I have always, and still do, feel these are givens and clutters up the job description. Most people expect givens such as this and to state them lessens the impact of a very well written job description.

Candidates will very well see your job description before you have a chance to talk with them to make the match. The job description will be their first impression and you want them to see the value of your company/client and the position you are promoting. Paying as much attention to your job description as you would a candidate resume you would present to your Hiring Manager is critical. That connection you are attempting to make between the job description and resume will be the best connection you can make between company/client and candidate.

So, do not discount the importance of very well written and informative job descriptions. They will pay dividends if done right. Remember to KIS and who your audience is. When everything falls into place, as it should, you will be able to say “that worked out great for me” instead of having to ask, “how are they working out for you?”

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