job descriptions

Job Descriptions: An Underestimated Tool

In recruiting, job descriptions are highly underestimated.

Hiring managers, recruiters, and candidates alike should know that the job description is not just something you send over for fluff, it’s a tool that has the potential to make and break prospect interest. In a sense, a job description is your sales collateral — one of the first pieces of information prospective candidates receive.  It should be relevant and realistic. Know what will target and entice qualified candidates, what stands out about the company and the opening, and craft the message with honest detail, accordingly.

Be careful to ensure the job description does not have unrealistic requirements and/or qualifications, as this can rule out those candidates who may be a solid fit for the role, but may not have a specific certification, system experience, # years of experience, etc.  Think about it? Does the role require an MBA or is this something that is highly desired?  Does this person need to have expertise with a specific system? Could a rockstar with 7 years excel in the role just as much as someone with 12+ years? If these things are highly desired, and not required, specify that in the job description.

Broad or generic job descriptions can be even more menacing to a search than those with unrealistic ones. Here’s why:

First things first, when a job description is too broad, applicants will come flooding in. Some may think bringing in more candidates is positive for a search — think again. A broad job description will increase the number of inbound unqualified resumes. Though not the hardest part of recruiting by any means, screening incoming resumes is a time suck that can be compared to searching for a needle in a haystack. More importantly, a broad job description may dissuade qualified candidates from being interested in the opportunity. If your job description does not have the meat of responsibilities/requirements listed, it’s impossible for candidates to understand what the expectations truly are. Many times, a broad job description can make a position seem less challenging, which is often a turnoff for those who want to continue to learn, grow, and make an impact – all qualities we look for in expansion stage hiring. A broad job description also raises more questions regarding the position. Recruiters likely have the answers to those questions, but why wait until the first live call to instill clarity? Make your life easier – jot down the realistic responsibilities and requirements you are talking about in these conversations and use those to write up a new draft. Job descriptions usually consist of three sections:

  1. Company Information
  2. Position Responsibilities
  3. Applicant Qualifications.

Let candidates know what the expectations are by outlining both the strategic and tactical responsibilities, and be both detailed and direct in the messaging. At the same time, craft the messaging in a way that allows the company culture and team dynamic shine through. This will help make the description unique to the company, and less generic/mundane. It’s key to get these job descriptions right, and to update them for each and every search.

Carlie Smith
Carlie Smith
Director of Talent

Carlie Smith was the Senior Talent Manager, Sales & Marketing at OpenView. She worked directly with hiring managers and key stakeholders within OpenView and its portfolio to lead vital searches and provided process guidance on recruitment strategy, including talent identification, strategic sourcing, relationship building, and competitive intelligence. Currently, Carlie is the Director of Circle.
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