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How Your Job Description Could Be Turning Off The Best Applicants

24th February 2016

With a plethora of candidates to choose from employers are demanding more in their search for the perfect candidate. But they may be turning off the very people they would like to attract, authentic candidates with the right attitude, with job descriptions which would make even superman blanche.

But there are other reasons for taking time to write comprehensive job descriptions and personal specifications.

1. It really makes you think about the vacancy and the business need, helping to define exactly what you are looking for.

2. Job descriptions and personal specifications are complimentary because focusing entirely on skills just does not cut it in the real world – can you think of a job that doesn't involve interacting with others and some measure of deliverable outcome?

3. They are also very useful when the applicant's performance is appraised during the probationary period or first year of employment.

But what are they and how are they different?

We advise candidates to tailor their CV and covering letter for each application, but employers should tailor each job description too. Even in this job market you want to "sell" your company to the job hunter. Make them really, really want to work for your company because they love the job content. So, whether your vacancy information needs a refresh or it's your first time at creating a role specification these 10 essentials will help you maximise your own hiring super powers.

1. It may seem obvious but jargon filled, flowery language switches people off. Simple, conversational, easy to read, clear language is best. Write in a style which is aligned to your company culture, don't use staid, stilted formal language if your company is anything but that – it just creates a misleading impression.

2. Ensure that the job title accurately reflects the job and, if you are advertising the role online, that it is searchable. Quirky (eg Head of Fun) or very company specific (eg Programmer Level 3) job titles provide no guidance on what the job actually entails – and therefore who would be qualified to apply for it.

3. The job summary should be clear and succinct, providing an overview of the role. Separately, distinct responsibilities should be listed. Keep them honest and specific as these will define what a person needs to do to be successful, avoiding disillusioned employees down the line.

4. Consider dividing qualifications into those which are mandatory and those which are preferred. Likewise on skills – some will be critical while others, although desirable, could be learned on the job.

5. Think carefully about the experience you require – can the applicant be qualified by experience? Do you really need 5 years' specific experience or will this deter applicants who just haven't had the time to accrue this level of experience, or broadly skilled applicants who are trying to make a career transition?

6. As well as the specific attributes the role requires think about the wider values and competencies your company champions.

7. Specifying the location is obviously important but details on flexible working or required travel should be provided too.

8. Clarity on remuneration and benefits (including non-financial incentives) is a priority for applicants.

9. People need to understand where they fit in to an organisation so provide some information on who the role reports to and the number of direct reports.

10. Information on your company is important, but by providing links to other material such as information on company culture or a video on what it's like to live in the area will save the job description becoming too long.

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