Why Your Job Descriptions Are Failing – And What to Do about It

Devin Foster

Are your job descriptions engaging candidates, or alienating them? Find out in this recap of our July 29 episode of Talent Experience Live, as guest speaker Amit Parmar, CEO and founder of Cliquify, shared tips on revamping your approach to posting jobs.
 

Your company's career site is often the first touchpoint a candidate has with your company — it's where job seekers get the first impression of what your organization stands for, its values and purpose, and what it's like to be part of your team. 
 

It's also where candidates find the job descriptions your company is hiring for. Job descriptions have to be captivating and engaging, well-crafted, and fresh in order to attract candidates and persuade them to apply. But many organizations fail to make the most of this important opportunity to stand out and spark a relationship with top talent. 
 

“In my experience, I think the way jobs are posted and advertised is a very underestimated step in the process,” Parmar said. 
 

Parmar, who has been a TA leader for companies like IBM and Deloitte, developed Cliquify to help employers easily build and publish visually engaging, inclusive job posts on social media platforms. It's an ideal way to reach job seekers where they are: on their phones, as seven in 10 Americans use at least one social media site.
 

Watch the full episode below for expert insight on upping your job description game, or read on for highlights! 
 


The Most Common Pitfalls of Today’s Job Descriptions


Too often, job descriptions are written once, and then reused over and over again with minimal tweaks to maintain accuracy. But job descriptions that get no love won’t get love from candidates either. 
 


Here are three job description drawbacks to look out for:
 

1. Too much text

When it comes to writing a job description, HR leaders and recruiters need to think like marketers, according to Parmar. This means knowing your audience, evaluating how they consume content, and including only the most relevant information.
 

Like consumers shopping online, job candidates scan copy — so it’s best to present it in short, snack-sized blocks and outlined with bullet points. 
 

“We’re moving away from text-heavy content,” Parmar said.


WEBINAR: Think Like A Marketer: Tips to Attract, Engage, & Acquire Top Talent


2. Too many nice-to-have elements

Job descriptions loaded with long lists of unclear requirements are a turnoff to many candidates, and the laundry list approach can certainly jeopardize an organization’s efforts and ability to build diversity in the talent pipeline.
 

Parmar cited well-known research findings, which he saw from Harvard Business Review, that show most women will only apply to jobs when they believe they meet 100 percent of listed requirements, while men will apply if they meet only 60 percent. 
 

“If you have too many requirements that are 'nice-to-haves' versus 'must-haves,' you are inadvertently potentially reducing your talent pool in a more negative way as it relates to diversity and inclusion,” Parmar said. 
 

3. Too much focus on pedigree rather than skills

More and more companies are scrapping the traditional requirement of a college degree, in exchange for training and skills that fill the organization's gaps. 
 

“There’s a massive move around skill-based hiring and moving away from pedigree,” Parmar said. This means shifting job descriptions accordingly — away from degrees and educational credentials and in favor of competencies and skills. 


RELATED: Defining Skills: The Key to Advancing Talent Throughout Their Journey


Turn Your Job Descriptions Around: Where to Start


To start an overhaul of your job descriptions, Parmar recommends that recruiters and hiring managers sit down together and identify the top three or four most essential skills and qualities a candidate should have for each open role. 
 

”If you don’t do that step – it’s a critical step in the process – there are all kinds of downstream issues: misalignment from the get-go in terms of what you’re looking for, lack of clarity for the candidate," he said. "And you know what happens when the top of the recruitment funnel isn’t as high-quality as you’d like.”
 


Encourage hiring managers to specify the skills needed

When a hiring manager’s predominant request is “Get me an ‘A’ player!” — how do you build an effective job description? 
 

In these cases, Parmar says recruiters should ask whether the hiring manager has any current front runners they’re trying to replicate. Then, ask what they love about that star team member, and find out what they’d be most excited to see in a job candidate.
 

Additionally, to hire top talent, recruiters and hiring managers should make sure they're on the same page sooner rather than later, communicate often, clarify critical information ahead of screening, and appoint the hiring manager for candidate engagement.  
 

Include Compelling Visuals to Catch Passive Talent

Social media job ads that include imagery drive better engagement than text-only ads, Parmar said. In fact, he’s found that job ads with visuals posted on social media are four to six times more effective at “stopping the scroll.” 
 

Careful image selection can help remove bias from job roles, too. For example, featuring an image of a woman for a traditionally male-dominated job can potentially draw in more female candidates. Parmar considers visuals to be so crucial that Cliquify provides 2.7 million images for users to choose from. 
 

Ensure social media presence to connect with younger talent

Visibility on social media platforms is important for building relationships with Millennial and Gen Z candidates, who are fast becoming the majority of job seekers. Social media is exactly where employers need to be to captivate this next generation of talent early. 
 

And for employers who really want to get ahead of the curve? TikTok is a fast-growing platform that according to Parmar, employers should establish a presence there to connect with younger generations of job candidates. 


Shifting the Mindset: Quality Over Quantity of Applicants


“Really, the intent is to start the conversation, not necessarily an application,” Parmar clarified. “So you’re moving from this transactional mindset of ‘Hey, I need as many applicants as possible’ versus really, you want as many quality applicants as possible.”  
 

When it comes to assessing the performance of your social job posting strategy, measuring the quality of the candidate experience is more important than looking at transactional metrics like the number of applies, he added. For example, consider recruiting for a cybersecurity engineer role. 
 

“A metric that I would be more interested in from my team, as well as for me, as a recruiter would be ‘Hey, am I creating enough followership from the cybersecurity community, and how am I doing that?’ versus ‘How many applications am I getting?’” 
 


Employee referral networks build trust

Reaching out to your employer networks is a great way to get valuable candidates connected with job opportunities at your company. Referrals make it easier to find high-quality candidates and fuel recruitment efforts, as current employees can recommend their former colleagues, friends, and peers. 
 

In general, candidates trust job ad content that comes directly from employees or hiring managers more so than sponsored ads. Parmar compared it to shopping for products – consumers trust content from users more than from companies.
 

“We think about engaging with a brand or a company in the same fashion – how trustworthy is the content that’s being put out there?” Parmar said, adding that referrals are the number one easiest way to hire talent today.



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