Many companies fail to recognize the primary purpose of a job description. The #1 goal should not be to inform candidates of the requirements for a position. Instead, the #1 goal should be to attract candidates to a company and a position.
Your job description must make it 100% clear why top candidates should want to work for your organization in a specific role. The most desirable candidates are usually not looking for another position. They need to be persuaded to consider a new opportunity.
When clients hire me to help them execute a search, one of our first steps is to work together to create a Stronger Job Description TM. In this article, you’ll learn how to create a Stronger Job Description TM on your own. Be sure to answer the following five questions if you want to attract high-caliber candidates.
(1) How does your company add value to the world?
Every job description should begin with a discussion of your company’s mission. Top candidates want to challenge the status quo and have a significant impact. Think about how you can describe your company’s mission in an inspiring way.
Even if your organization has a strong brand, do not assume that candidates know why you exist, who your customers are, or how your company adds value to the world. Be specific in describing your company’s impact and fundamental purpose.
(2) Why should top candidates want to work for your company over your competitors?
Top candidates are probably also receiving recruiting calls from your competition. Your job descriptions need to make it clear why your company should be the choice in your industry. Think about how your organization is different in a good way from your competitors.
If your organization is more established, maybe you can point to your history, brand, and extensive customer base. If you are a newer company, maybe you can point to your fast growth or to a unique product or service that you have developed.
Be sure to sell your leadership team as well. Top candidates need to feel like they will be in good hands. Think about what makes your leadership team desirable to work for/with, and be sure to include that in your job descriptions, too.
(3) What makes your company a great place to work?
Some job descriptions highlight the perks that a company provides for employees. That might include a casual dress code, free food, or a company ping pong table. While these non-wage offerings might help attract interns and entry-level hires, trivial perks add no value when it comes to attracting and retaining exceptional leaders.
Your job descriptions need to provide evidence that your company is committed to creating an outstanding culture. Top performers do not care about getting free snacks or being able to wear jeans to work. They are much more concerned about working in a healthy, positive environment, doing work that is challenging and meaningful, and developing new skills and expertise.
Make sure your job descriptions highlight any third-party recognition or other evidence that demonstrates that your organization is a top employer. If your company is less established, then talk about the culture that you want candidates to help create.
(4) How is your organization structured, and how will this position fit into the organizational structure?
Candidates will want to know how your organization is structured, and how the open position will fit into that structure. At the minimum, a job description should explain who the role will report to, who the role will oversee, and who else the role will work with closely. If your company is not clear on the organizational structure around the role, take some time to clarify that before creating your job description and starting your search.
(5) Why should top candidates be excited about this role?
In one or two sentences, your job description should clearly define the key mandate for the position. Candidates will not expect a job description to provide as much detail as a conversation with the hiring manager. However, a job description should provide a high-level summary of what the position will inherit and be expected to achieve.
Your position description should set high expectations (both in the short-term and over the long-term) for the person stopping into the role. Top performers love a big challenge. If it sounds like an average candidate could do the job, you are unlikely to attract above-average candidates.
Summary and Recommendations
The primary goal of a job description is not to inform candidates of the requirements for a position. Instead, the primary goal is to attract candidates to the company and the position. Your job description must make it 100% clear why top candidates should want to work for your organization in a specific role.
Most job descriptions fail to answer some or all of the five questions highlighted in this article. Test it out for yourself. Look at one of your company’s job descriptions, and ask yourself how many of these five questions are clearly answered:
- How does your company add value to the world?
- Why should top candidates want to work for your company over your competitors?
- What makes your company a great place to work?
- How is your organization structured, and how will this position fit into the organizational structure?
- Why should top candidates be excited about this role?
When your job descriptions answer these critical questions, you are guaranteed to attract higher-caliber candidates.
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About the author: As the Founder of Stronger Talent, Pete Leibman recruits exceptional leaders for companies that make the world stronger. Throughout his career, Pete has helped clients recruit exceptional leaders at the Board, C-Suite, Senior Vice President, Vice President, General Manager, Managing Director, and Director levels. Pete’s work has been featured on Fox News, CBS Radio, and Fortune.com, and he is the author of two books and over 150 articles on career management, healthy living, high performance, and executive recruiting.