There’s an art to writing engaging job descriptions that accurately (and honestly!) outline a specific position and attract the right types of candidates. It’s a form of employer branding that most recruiters have embraced as one of their first chances to engage with candidates beyond the landing page of their company careers site.
With all the attention these posts receive, I’m consistently surprised by something that’s needlessly restrictive, yet seems to be viewed by recruiters as “helping candidates.”
I’m talking about the section found at the bottom of a job posting that describes qualifications that are “nice to have.”
What does that even really mean? Personally, it just seems confusing for job seekers, and could lead to more truly unqualified candidates entering your pipeline — which ultimately leads to more time wasted in the prescreening process.
Unqualified candidates could see these “nice-to-haves” as a way for them to “reach” into a role. In other words, if they don’t have the necessary mandatory requirements, they may apply anyway if they feel they can satisfy some (if not all) of your “nice to haves.”
Not that that’s a bad thing, per se. Considering candidates with diverse backgrounds and skill sets outside of mandatory requirements could actually strengthen your employee pool by adding unique perspectives to the mix. But instead of labeling potential attributes as “nice to haves,” consider wording your job description in a way that makes this clear, instead of just throwing it on the bottom of your job board listing.
Our tips on crafting your job description the right way:
Honestly, Just Be Specific
If you truly have too many qualified candidates, congratulations, you can stop reading! But if you’re like 99 percent of companies, you should know that from the perspective of a candidate, skills that are desired but not required simply look like requirements in disguise. They make candidates feel self-conscious and inadequate, ultimately restricting your applicant funnel and undercutting your efforts to advertise your job postings as widely as you do.
Define the skills that are “must-haves” for a particular position, and make sure they’re front and center in your job description. This way, you’re letting job seekers know from the get-go if they’re qualified — or not. Don’t blur the lines with “nice-to-haves” that could cast doubt for qualified candidates, and give a false impression to unqualified ones.
Showcase Your Company Culture
Evaluating candidates goes beyond just assessing their core skill sets — recruiters also have to make sure applicants will align with their organization’s core mission, culture and values.
A good job description should provide candidates with a clear perspective on what it’s like to work for your company beyond their day-to-day duties. Make sure you’re highlighting your best attributes (like benefits and other perks) providing links to your company careers page and social media sites so truly interested candidates can learn more.
As we’ve written about before, Search Engine Optimization is the keyword (get it?) when it comes to attracting top talent — especially on job boards and aggregators, like Google’s new job search function.
Write your job description in a way that includes all relevant terms you believe the right job seeker would be searching for when looking for opportunities that fit. Consider including phrases that include industry-specific skills, clear job titles and geographic locations. The more specific, the better.
The Bottom Line
Every company has a story about a nontraditional applicant who turned out to be great for a role. Don’t restrict yourself to hiring carbon copies of whatever hiring manager dictated the wording of your old job description. By being specific and considerate about the wording of your job description, you can ensure you’re introducing the right types of candidates into your pipeline early — and not wasting anyone’s time.