Hiring top talent starts with knowing how to attract them. Creating a job description is akin to delivering a sales pitch to a potential client. If your pitch isn’t descriptive enough to grab their attention or interesting enough to keep it, you’ve already lost them. Companies that don’t have strong brand recognition (think Zappos, Google, Apple, etc…) have a difficult time standing out. This is why it’s important to create a job description that sells both your brand and the position. Believe it or not, job seekers only spend about 14 seconds glancing through a job description. Within those 14 seconds, they’re either interested or on to the next one.
When it comes to job descriptions there are two extremes:
- A bare-bones job description filled with corporate lingo and no hint of what the company is actually like. Quality candidates, especially the new generation, don’t want to play a guessing game of what the job responsibilities are. Additionally, vague job descriptions attract ill-qualified people
- A job ad that oversells the company or is all “me, me, me” comes off as a red flag. Candidates often view this as a cover-up a larger problem such as a toxic workplace
Job descriptions that win over top talent are ones that help candidates visualize what their experience will be like in the role and how they’ll fit into the company. However, few companies realize this, therefore, their job ads speak at candidates instead of to them. For this reason, painting that visual for them is fundamental.
Here are three ways you can win over top talent with a job description that sells your brand for you.
Help Them Visualize The Experience
Have you ever read a sales ad or marketing material where it started off by asking questions? You were either instantly hooked or turned off, right? The goal of asking these questions is to speak to the person reading the ad in such a way that they’re compelled to take action. This is the same concept for job descriptions. Talent Plus and Hirevue do an exceptional job of creating engaging job descriptions that draw in their ideal candidates. Instead of starting the job description off with a copy and paste of their website About Me, they use it to filter out those who resonate from those who don’t. Here’s an example of one of their job advertisements:
You might’ve noticed their use of inclusive language. Using language such as “you” and ‘we” helps candidates to paint that picture of how they’ll fit in with your company. Once candidates are drawn in, they want to learn more. You can do this by leading into what the culture of the company is like.
- Have you won a Best Place to Work Award?
- Do you encourage employees to express their creativity?
- Do you offer paid maternity/paternity leave like Snap, Tucows or Netflix?
- Unlimited PTO?
- A SAFE leave policy? Remote work (even post-COVID-19)?
These unique perks help a candidate make the decision upfront if they want to move forward and explore the possibility of becoming a part of that vision. Your job description shouldn’t be a novel but it should give readers a feel for the team, culture and what sets the company apart from the rest. When a job description uses more corporate sounding language, candidates visualize it being a business professional setting with suits, ties and a less creative exploration. When job descriptions are laid back and speak to candidates as a friend, they visualize the culture being more creative, laid-back and open to new opinions and ideas. I’m not putting either down. In fact, I like a healthy mix of both. Here’s a snippet from one of Hootsuite’s job ads that mixes business and fun:
Use Language That Resonates
Think of this process as you would if you’re creating marketing material for your ideal customer. Companies often use trendy language or words such as “ninja” or “guru” with the belief it’ll capture the attention of top talent without actually taking the time to understand what does resonate. I can’t stress this enough: make sure the language you use resonates with your ideal candidate.
The best piece of advice I can give is if you’re going to make your title fun, make it searchable. What I mean by that is, IT professionals will typically search for “IT admin” “database admin”, “systems admin” or something similar. What they won’t usually search for is “Technical Superhero”. Consequently, candidates are turned off, confused or they never see your role because it’s overshadowed by one that fits their search criteria.
Think about articles you come across and choose to read. What makes you click and read it? The title, right? It’s either due in part because you’re interested in learning more or the title piqued your curiosity. However, the thing with job seekers, especially now during a pandemic, is they don’t want to waste time reading something that might not be what they’re looking for. If candidates don’t resonate with the title, they’re not going to want to waste their time learning more. For this reason, Indeed recommends describing the job in normal terms and avoiding phrases people are less likely to search for like “Marketing Wizard.”
Want to know the easiest way to create a job description that sells? Collaborate with individuals in that department or similar roles. Not only is this a great way to add a fresh perspective to a job description but it helps to infuse it with the personality and language of the team. Typically, HR is in charge of creating the role but they have little to no experience actually working in the role. Likewise, hiring managers will pull the original job description from 1998 and expect it to speak to the talent of 2020. This is why HR should still be involved to keep formating consistent, help flesh out the role, keep it relevant and eliminate potential discrimination or illegal statements.
Speaking of classic mistakes, if you’re struggling to attract diverse talent, let me be the first to say it’s time to revisit the language of your job description. Did you know phrases and words such as “aggressive”, “outspoken”, and “rock star” tend to repel women from applying?
Use “As a Media Buyer, you will be responsible for xyz” instead of “The Media Buyer will be responsible for xyz” or “As a Media Buyer, he will be responsible for xyz.” Can you see the difference?
Textio is a free app that helps to quickly identify the gender balance of your job description. I have no affiliation with them except that I appreciate what they do.
Make It Easy To Apply
Let’s say you revamped your job description and you’re attracting a lot of quality candidates because you’re paying the Pay Per Click (PPC) but nobody is applying. Frustrating. Here’s the likely cause: your application process is broken or tedious.
In a recent Forbes article, I brought attention to the challenges faced with applicant tracking systems (ATS). For example, Taleo, BambooHR, etc… Companies who use an ATS rarely go through the application process themselves to see what the candidate experiences. Here’s what it typically looks like for the candidate:
- Upload resume
- Re-enter all the information on their resume
- Receive an error that prevents the finished and now time-consuming application from being submitted
I’m sure you can imagine how frustrating that is. It’s the exact reason why candidates abandon their application.
Take the time to go through the application yourself as if you were the candidate. This will help reduce inefficiencies, errors and losing quality candidates.
You can also use LinkedIn to post jobs and take advantage of their “Easy Apply” feature. This simplifies and expedites the process. In addition, it mitigates the risk of losing top talent due to a broken or frustrating experience. As a result of the pandemic, more job seekers are active on LinkedIn looking for their next job.
I know this can be overwhelming. You might be unsure of where to start, not have the bandwidth to revamp your current descriptions or you’re stressed out about your entire hiring process. You want the best talent, you have a great team of people and you care about each and every person you hire, but what you’re currently doing isn’t working.
A client I recently worked with struggled with exactly this. As a growing tech company, they were struggling to keep up with their applications and had no standard process in place; the one they did have, was a disorganized mess. This meant talent was getting lost or being forgotten about in the process. The ones who were getting through weren’t accepting the job when it was offered or dropping out mid-way. Yet the company believed so much in their culture that they couldn’t understand why others couldn’t see how amazing they were.
A disorganized hiring process is a red flag for candidates. They begin to wonder ‘if the company’s recruiting process has no plan-what else is falling apart?’ or “will getting my paycheck be this much of a disaster too?”
As soon as they brought me on I was able to turn that around quickly. We worked on the roles they had open to create a process that was scalable. I wanted there to be an immediate impact on candidates currently in-process. From there, we worked on their job descriptions and created a template they could use across all positions and moving forward. Now they’re confident and proud of their process and have been able to win over top talent from their competitors! I’d love to help you improve your process! Click here to schedule your complimentary call with me today to learn more