If you want to attract senior level candidates with in-demand skills, a well-crafted job description is a must.
The better your job description, the higher quality of candidates you’ll reach. When you hire superb senior level talent, they become catalysts for company-wide growth. The work they do generates positive ripples for years to come.
Plus, it helps you avoid candidates that are the wrong fit, which saves a lot of time. (And it also helps keep your employer brand consistent with your company culture!)
So, how do you get started? Here are our actionable tips on how to write engaging and effective job descriptions, so you can bring the best possible senior level talent to your organisation.
The Key? Avoid Discouraging A Potential Amazing Fit
Many companies don’t realise that their job descriptions discourage potential great candidates.
The way to avoid this? Qualify people based on positive traits rather than disqualifying them based on requirements. You’ll have a much better chance of attracting diverse and excellent senior level talent.
Here are some things to keep an eye on when writing your job descriptions:
Go Easy on Superlatives
It might be tempting to describe your ideal candidate as “world-class,” a “rockstar,” or the “best of the best.” But, there’s a hidden drawback to this, according to Research by the National Center for Women & Information Technology. The study shows that superlatives can actually discourage qualified people from applying.
This is because many people, especially women and minorities, are socialised not to “toot their own horn.” They don’t feel comfortable claiming they are the “best of the best,” but they may actually be ideal for the role.
Use Gender Neutral Language
The language you use matters! Anyone reading your job description should be able to see themselves reflected in it. Always use gender-neutral job titles and examples. If you use pictures and graphics, make sure they reflect a diverse range of people.
There’s even a free app you can use to help you gauge the gender balance in the language of your job description. (It’s based on a study about how certain words discourage women from applying.)
Focus on What Their Skills Will Achieve
When you’re looking for the right candidate, it’s about what they can do. So, focus on the results you’d like to see rather than degrees, experience or credentials. (Unless of course, you’re hiring for a role where a degree is a requirement.)
By focusing on skills rather than requirements, you also attract senior level candidates who are are more diverse. Women are unlikely to apply for a position unless they meet 100 percent of the requirements. Meanwhile, men will apply if they meet only 60 percent of the requirements. (Read about the research study here.)
Why You Should Write Success Profiles, Not Job Descriptions
In a previous blog post, we suggested writing a “Success Profile” rather than a job description. It includes 6-8 core performance objectives a person needs to achieve in the role to be successful.
This defines the job through outputs and achievements, rather than qualifications and experiences. A Success Profile attracts better, more diverse candidates because it focuses on the value delivered to your company.
When you define results rather than duties, there’s no need to list an arbitrary set of requirements. The right candidate doesn’t need 10 years of experience, or a degree. They simply need to be able to complete the goals you’ve laid out. This, of course, opens up the potential candidate pool. You’re selecting in qualified candidates rather than filtering them out. Plus, it begins the conversation on a positive, inclusive note.
For an example of a traditional-style Job Description re-written as a Success Profile, take a look at this blog post. This shift in perspective applies to any role, in any industry. (In fact, if you can’t define 6-8 core performance results, you might ask yourself why you’re hiring for the role in the first place.)
Top Tier Passive Talent Can Afford to Be Choosy
High quality senior level talent is always in demand. Those with valuable skills know they’ll always have opportunities available to them. To attract them you’ll need to highlight how the role will serve them as well as the other way around.
This starts with being clear about the salary, perks and benefits you are offering, of course. This saves time for everyone, because it filters out anyone who’s not a good fit. In a 2018 Glassdoor study, salary was the top factor in what candidates looked for in job ads.
But these are not the only important factors. Experienced talent also wants to join a strong, established work culture. They want to work with a company whose values align with theirs. So, make sure you’ve highlighted those values in the job description.
Also, these individuals know the value of mentorship and lifelong learning. They are looking for somewhere they can develop their skills, progress and grow. So, be sure to mention any opportunities you offer for professional development.
The Power of a Well-Written Job Description
A quality job description is a powerful magnet to attract senior level candidates who share your company values.
Think about how you can align with their goals and skills and draw people who really care about the work – and have the know-how to make it happen.
It’s a fundamental shift in mindset for your hiring process. But, it will make a huge difference in the quality of talent you attract to your organisation. These individuals have the potential to deliver value for years to come, so it’s worth getting it right!
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