Creating an Authentic and Accurate Job Description

Author: Heather Lovell

A powerful job description acts as the first contact many employees have with you as an employer so getting it right is vital for attracting talent. Job descriptions provide a glimpse into the tone of the company (playful, creative, buttoned-down, employee-focused, traditional) and into the authenticity of a company. If the underlying promise you made through your job description (we have a great work/life balance!) is mirrored in the rest of your employee branding throughout your website and sites like GlassDoor the candidate immediately feels this authenticity. 75% of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before applying. If after reading your job description and doing research they trust you, they will start to picture themselves working at your company.

On the other hand, if that promise is broken because you created a job description based on the current fads—like making your QA Engineer a “Guru” because it sounds more exciting, or promoting your Ping-pong table because it makes you sound fun and social—but your actual company culture isn’t fun, social, or exciting, you will let potential employees down. You don’t want to create a façade that doesn’t accurately portray what candidates will see when they come in for an interview.

Forget the fads and find the right candidates for your team by focusing on these 5 recommendations:

  • Be Compelling – Your job description is a marketing piece so treat it as such—you want your job description to evoke emotion, to connect the vision and challenges of a position to the candidate that will be invigorated by them. Creating this feeling takes work; it takes marketing.

  • Be Authentic—Know what your company stands for and market that, not the current fad—market to the people that would truly fit best for your culture and the actual position. Write an authentic company summary about what makes your company unique to attract the right type of candidate for your culture. You can learn more on how to shape and define your culture from our Company Culture as Artifacts article.

  • Be Accurate—Know what success looks like for the position and express it clearly—think about why the position exists in the big picture—to increase sales, to increase efficiency, to improve customer service? A good job description must reflect the skills and personal characteristics that are necessary to carry out this goal. Stop writing about the exact number of years you think are necessary and focus on the result and how a candidate should get there.

  • Be Prioritized—Limit your requirements, speak to the ideal, and forget the rest—make a list of the deal breakers—what experience, credentials, skills, personality traits are non-negotiable and state only those as Requirements. Then make a prioritized list of other important experiences and skills that would be highly desirable and make those Ideal or Nice to Have.

  • Be Different—Clearly articulate why candidates should spend time interviewing with you—in the current employee-centric economic environment, you must sell your prospective employees on your company and the position. You must go beyond the typical HR health benefits to highlight nearby hiking, flexible schedules, commuter passes, maternity leave, etc.

Writing an authentic and accurate job description takes time and self-awareness by company leadership. It takes reflection by the hiring manager and the HR department to really think through why this position exists and what type of candidates should be considered. Putting in the hard work at this step will save time and energy and better assure you find a new contributor to the success of the company.

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