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Candidate Search recruiting

What Makes A Job Description Great?

November 11, 2021

For recruiters and hiring managers, there is no denying the importance of our initial contact with potential candidates. Whether through email, a phone call, or a video chat, we all know how important it is to make an excellent first impression. The truth, however, is that our first contact with a candidate is often not the first interaction that the candidate had with us. The job description was.

Before any calendar invites were exchanged, resumes reviewed, or Zoom links generated, it is most likely that a potential candidate's initial entry into the hiring process started when they came across the job posting on a company website or job board.

If we think about job descriptions as our first, and maybe only, opportunity to attract qualified candidates, then it only makes sense to be intentional in presenting ourselves and the position we are promoting.

A candidate’s first interaction with a potential employer is often through a posted job description. To ensure a good first impression, employers need to be intentional in representing themselves and the position they are offering. A great job description is clear, concise, free of bias, and positive.

With this in mind, it is essential to understand the difference between a drab and impersonal help wanted ad and a well-written and purposeful job description. Read on as we outline the qualities of a great job description.

@IQTalent Partners says a strong #JobDescription is one that provides a clear image of what is expected in your role. See how you can reduce #bias and source strong #candidates by focusing on writing concise, clear, and intentional job descriptions:Click to Tweet

What Goes Into A Great Job Description?

A great job description should be able to stand alone as the face of the company it represents. Just like the host station of a restaurant, the front desk of the hotel, or the friendly face greeting you when you walk into your favorite retailer, job descriptions often serve as the primary point of contact during the hiring process.

Making the right impression is critical to attracting qualified candidates into your pipeline. Unlike the hostess, front desk clerk, and retail greeter, a job description does not have the option to respond to the questions or apprehensions of a potential candidate. You need to carefully craft your job descriptions to ensure a positive interaction. 

The two most important considerations when creating a job description are:

  • Clarity and concision with regard to the job title, qualifications, and responsibilities
  • Careful word choice that considers diversity, equity, and inclusion to avoid any potential biases

It can be challenging to include all relevant information in a job description while still maintaining brevity. A job description can easily get bogged down by excessive wordiness, intimidating corporate jargon, or vague and ambiguous details.

To avoid this, we recommend identifying a new role’s job title, qualifications, and responsibilities before drafting the job description.

Bonus Material: Download our guide for writing better job descriptions and attracting stronger talent. 

Be Clear About the Job Title, Role, and Qualifications

The importance of clarity in job title, role expectations, and qualifications is arguably the most crucial aspect of an effectively-composed job description. Most candidates tend to skim job descriptions, making it even more critical to keep them concise.

Use a job title specific to the role and avoid disingenuous and unrealistic titles like “Superstar Sales Associate.” Sure, something like “Unicorn UX Designer” is creative, but “unicorn” is a subjective, if not unrealistic, expectation.

This emphasis on clarity and concision also applies to sections of a job description that describe the role and its responsibilities, as well as its qualifications.

Candidates should be able to easily visualize a typical day on the job. They should be able to determine their daily responsibilities and what previous education or experiences they need to have to be successful in the advertised position. 

The more precise the qualifications are in a job description, the better. Try to avoid vague qualifiers like “relevant experience.” Instead, even simply rephrasing that to read “relevant industry experience” at least adds some clarity to what could seem an overtly subjective requirement.

Be sure to differentiate between must-haves and nice to haves, making it clear that the absence of any nice to haves will not result in immediate disqualification.

Your #JobDescription is typically a candidate’s first interaction with your company. Use these tips from @IQTalent to ensure you’re sending out the right message and attracting the right kinds of #candidates to your job:Click to Tweet

Using Strategic Word Choice To Remove Bias

One of the biggest obstacles in crafting a concise and inclusive job description is the removal of bias. Bias comes in many forms and should be at the forefront of the thought process in developing the wording of a job description.

By considering the following forms of bias before initiating the hiring process and drafting a job description, you provide the best chance of promoting a pipeline full of qualified candidates:

  • Gender Bias
  • Age & Experience Bias
  • Cultural & Racial Bias
  • Jargon and Inclusion

Gender Bias

Gender bias, also referred to as gender coding, involves using words or phrases that could convey a false impression of an ideal gender or sexual affiliation for the described role.

Studies suggest that when a job description is too heavily coded in one gender, there is an increased chance that certain applicants will ignore the actual skills and qualifications of the role and assume they are not the right fit for the position.

The easiest way to remove gender bias from a job description is to utilize many of the various online tools that review job descriptions and make recommendations about changing gender-coded words and phrases.

Age & Experience Bias

As the world becomes increasingly digitized, the potential for unintentional age and experience bias in job descriptions has increased. Fortunately, this can be one of the easier biases to avoid. Considering the same lesson we learned with providing clear job descriptions, we can also prevent age or experience bias.

By avoiding terms such as “technophile” or “techie,” we avoid potentially excluding applicants who were born before the rise of the internet and social media. Little data suggests that individuals active in the workforce but born before the smartphone have difficulty adapting to new and changing technologies.

If your candidates need to be familiar with a specific technology or software, list that as a requirement that specifies which technologies or software applications are required. Avoid sentences like, “candidate is tech-savvy.”

Cultural & Racial Bias

Unlike age and experience bias, it can be more challenging to avoid cultural and racial biases in job descriptions. This may be surprising to some, as most would agree that the best practice in any professional setting is to avoid racially or culturally explicit words and phrases. 

The issue with culturally or racially biased components in a job description is that they are rarely intentional.

The two areas with the most risk of presenting cultural or racial bias are dress codes and language requirements. Be sure to consider various religious requirements when creating a dress code and be mindful of the difference between a native speaker and someone who speaks a language fluently. Most roles do not require someone who displays mastery of a given language.

Jargon and Inclusion

An additional consideration when it comes to bias and word choice is the use of corporate jargon. Most industries, recruiting included, have certain words and phrases unique to the trade but are often just industry jargon that describes tasks or skills that would be described differently in the general workforce.

By avoiding overly specific terminology in favor of general terms that still accurately describe a job’s roles and functions, we can prevent dissuading qualified candidates who may be recent graduates or new to the industry, thus promoting authentic workplace diversity.

With the increase in diversity, equity, and inclusion practices in the workplace and society and the transformation that remote work has promoted in how our society views our professional careers, we can no longer rely on rudimentary help wanted ads or vague job descriptions.

At IQTalent Partners, we provide a proven approach to on-demand and executive recruiting and provide a variety of great resources and tools to support the hiring needs of you and your company. One such example includes our very own talent exchange network - IQTalent Xchange. Visit our website to learn more about how we can support your hiring goals.

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