Could you be putting candidates off with poor job descriptions?

Could you be putting candidates off with poor job descriptions?It’s no secret that the UK is facing a talent shortage.

To give yourself the best chance of attracting a top candidate, it’s important to get your job description right. After all, this is the first thing people will read, and it’s often your only opportunity to encourage them to apply. Studies show that a bad job description can be a major barrier to this, and that the type of language you use, the qualifications you ask for and the benefits you mention can all play a part. Here’s what you need to know:

Be aware of unconscious bias

Although it’s not intended, many of our day-to-day decisions are subjective – based on personal experience or tastes. While this is only normal, when it comes to hiring, recruiters should be aware of the challenges this presents. It’s important to avoid writing job descriptions that are biased towards a particular gender, race or age. Differences are good for the workforce – consultancy firm McKinsey has shown that companies with diverse teams benefit from better financial returns – and the type of language you use can massively affect this. Want to know more? Take a look at the way tech giant Apple has changed the way it writes its job listings to be more inclusive, and to appeal to women in particular.

Keep your description short and concise

Research from LinkedIn proves that, compared to the average job posting, shorter descriptions result in an 8.4% increase in applications. Candidates browsing for new roles don’t want to spend time scrolling on their mobile phones – the ideal job post should be a maximum of 300 words. Keeping things concise will help you to focus on what really matters. So, try to be realistic about the skills and qualifications you’re looking for. While men will apply for a job if they meet most of the requirements, women won’t fill in an application unless they’re 100% cent qualified. Again, bear in mind that the way in which you craft your post will affect who applies. Your job description should be a list of essentials, rather than an expansive wish list.

Emphasise your flexibility 

To attract a wide talent pool, re-read your job description to ascertain what kind of message you’re sending candidates. Are you able to provide flexible working? And are you open to a job share or part-time work? If so, make sure you mention this. New research shows that 83% of workers globally would turn down a job that doesn’t offer flexible working. By positioning yourself as an open and inclusive employer, you’ll be tapping into this trend, as well as attracting potential employees who wouldn’t have applied otherwise.

Avoid confusing job titles and jargon

Are you searching for your next marketing superstar? This may be the case, but to attract candidates, you’ll need a clear job title. Don’t be tempted to use a job title that isn’t immediately obvious – people will be looking for roles similar to their current position, so pick something that will appear in an internet search. Research from the charity Business in the Community found that jargon such as SLAs and KIPs can be off-putting for young people who feel intimidated by these roles. And it’s not just millennials, anyone who is making a career change or hoping to swap industries may also find this confusing. When you write your description, get several people to read it, to make sure that everyone – regardless of the department they work in – can understand what you’re asking for.

Include detail

Sending an application takes time, which means that there are certain details that people want to know before they apply. These include the salary, the location of the office and holiday time. All of these details make a difference – when it comes to salary, for example, candidates often use this to measure how senior a role is and whether they’re suited as a result.  Try to include a potential interview date, which shows that you’re able to run a tight ship when it comes to recruitment. And always include your contact details. Enabling people to get in touch before applying, in order to find out the answers to questions, demonstrates that you’re willing to engage and might make all the difference between a candidate deciding to apply or not.

About the author

Kate AllenKate Allen is the MD of Allen Associates, one of Oxfordshire’s leading independent recruitment agencies, that specialises in Marketing, Finance, PA/Admin and HR roles. They also have an office in London, specialising in Marketing, HR and PA/Admin roles.

Allen Associates also offer guides to businesses, containing top tips to help your recruitment and hiring process. They also offer guides to candidates, to help then with their job hunt.

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