No Viable Applicants? Time to Fine-Tune that Job Description!

May 8, 2013

L3 Keys to Improve Your Job Descriptionset’s face it — most companies simply do not know how to put together a job description.

This has been the source of many frustrations for recruiters, but in fact, most recruiters don’t know how to put one together, either.
A good job description attracts the right audience and gives prospective candidates an idea of what they will actually be doing in the role. We can no longer skirt by providing candidates with the “Minimum Requirements” and expect to have top talent apply.
Case in point, here is an example Sales Director job description taken from’s templates:
Sales Director Job Description
Description: Sales Director

 Sales Director Job Purpose: Sells products by implementing national sales plans; supervising regional sales managers.

 Sales Director Job Duties:

  • Determines annual unit and gross-profit plans by implementing marketing strategies; analyzing trends and results.
  • Establishes sales objectives by forecasting and developing annual sales quotas for regions and territories; projecting expected sales volume and profit for existing and new products.
  • Implements national sales programs by developing field sales action plans.
  • Maintains sales volume, product mix, and selling price by keeping current with supply and demand, changing trends, economic indicators, and competitors.
  • Establishes and adjusts selling prices by monitoring costs, competition, and supply and demand.
  • Completes national sales operational requirements by scheduling and assigning employees; following up on work results.
  • Maintains national sales staff by recruiting, selecting, orienting, and training employees.
  • Maintains national sales staff job results by counseling and disciplining employees; planning, monitoring, and appraising job results.
  • Maintains professional and technical knowledge by attending educational workshops; reviewing professional publications; establishing personal networks; participating in professional societies.
  • Contributes to team effort by accomplishing related results as needed.

Skills/Qualifications: Meeting Sales Goals, Negotiation, Selling to Customer Needs, Motivation for Sales, Sales Planning, Building Relationships, Coaching, Managing Processes, Market Knowledge, Developing Budgets, Staffing
This job description is bare bones, but it is very common for companies to use something to this affect and assume that it will do the trick. Even if we were to add few more personalized phrases to the above job description it would still tell me nothing of why I would/should be interested. Bottom line: This is a bland and vague description that does not do your company justice.
To improve your job descriptions, make sure you’re writing them to accomplish these three things:

1) Get the Right Audience’s Attention

By posting minimal requirements (even if they are not marked as such) you are going to get candidates who do not meet that criteria, but who are applying for a next-level position, or a challenging role. Frame your requirements so that is clear that the position is for an individual who already possesses the skills you are looking for.

2) Identify the Challenges

I am not sure about you, but I am not interested in a job that would be lateral or worse — not challenging. Point out the challenges involved in being successful in the role. You won’t scare people away by doing this, you will actually be appealing to your desired audience who is up for the demands of the position.

3) Illustrate How to Be Successful

This is key. The best job descriptions will call out how the candidate will be successful in the position and will impact your company’s value proposition. I cannot stress enough that this is what makes the difference between an okay job description and one that actually gets candidates interested in the role. Show the value of the position!
For more information on creating a valuable job description, read Carlie Smith’s blog, Stop Posting Boring Job Descriptions!
What are tactics your company uses to create a dynamic job description?

Senior Corporate Recruiter

<strong>Lindsey Gurian</strong> is the Senior Corporate Recruiter at <a href="">Acquia</a>. She was previously a Senior Talent Specialist at Sonian, responsible for recruiting initiatives at both the firm and its portfolio companies.