Finding and keeping a great candidate shouldn’t be hard, but employers often shoot themselves in the foot with vague job descriptions and briefs. Research by the Hay Group suggests nearly sixty per cent of HR departments blame terrible interviews and high turnover on weak job descriptions. A well-written description gives candidates a clear idea of what to expect, and recruiters an invaluable insight into which candidates to source. That means a lot less wasted time for you.

In a recent LinkedIn article, recruitment industry stalwart James Beacham shed some light on why writing good job descriptions are more important than ever: “In recent years we have seen a power shift from the recruiter to the candidate, the more quality and sought-after talent has much more option and they are shopping around for the perfect company.”

It may be time to sharpen that pen. Here are a few of the common pitfalls we’ve noticed in in-house job descriptions, which may very well apply to you too.

1. You’re not highlighting your company culture

Cultural fit is a hugely important factor in keeping employees happy and loyal, not to mention getting the right people through the door in the first place. Make your impact straight away and give your job descriptions a sense of personality that’s in line with your company’s culture. Formal, stuffy waffle won’t cut it for an edgy start-up, or for a household brand with a distinctive outlook and way of working. You should aim to give potential employees a sense of what it’s like to work for you, your company’s goals and values, and what you’re looking for in the people you hire.

2. You, HR and marketing aren’t working together efficiently

In the same research, nearly eight per cent of HR managers said they found getting a good job description from hiring managers to be ‘time-consuming’ – and nearly half felt that companies described their open vacancies badly. A HR professional’s eye is essential for making sure your job description covers the skills, competencies and behaviours you’re looking for. What candidates will also be looking for is a clear idea of where they’ll fit in, so be sure to include reporting lines and all the teams and departments they’ll be working with. Giving your marketing team (or person) some input makes sense when you consider that it’s their job to persuade, to sell stuff. Why not get them to help you sell your vacancies?

3. You’re hiding your goodies

There’s research to suggest that young professionals want to have a clear idea of their career path – and they want to scale the ladder quickly. According to Robert Walters, nine in tenMillennials put career progression at the top of their recruitment wish lists. So if your company can offer that, put it front and centre. There’s also nothing to be gained by hiding your company benefits and perks, either. If you pay less than your competitors, show all the attractive incentives and training you have available, and highlight the number of internal promotions that have been made. That will add significant weight to claims that candidates can rise quickly through the ranks.

4. You’re waffling

Be clear, specific, and to the point. Unsurprisingly, Twitter’s job descriptions meet these criteria – which brings us neatly back to the first point about being true to your company’s ethos! Take a leaf out of GOV.UK’s style guide and use succinct but informative headings, bullet points, and plain English. Avoid wishy-washy words like ‘might’, ‘sometimes’ or ‘should’. This saves recruiters and candidates from wondering about what you’re looking for, and makes it easier for candidates to imagine themselves doing the job.

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