Managers Need To Know How To Write Effective Job Postings

Managers have to make changes to how they describe open positions
Managers have to make changes to how they describe open positions
Image Credit: aaron_anderer

If you are a manager and you have an opening on your team, what do you do? If you are like most of us your HR department is going to come to you and ask that you create a job description so that they can go post it and see who applies for it. This is the way that we’ve always done things. However, it has not always worked out all that well. The wrong people apply for jobs or, even worse, too many people apply for an open position. Something has to change. Managers have to learn how to write job descriptions.

The Wrong Way To Create A Job Description

So if the job descriptions that we are currently creating are not working, then we must be doing them incorrectly, right? What are we doing wrong? Right now the job market is pretty tight – the people that we want to join our teams may have many other options besides joining our company. What this means for us as managers is that we need manager training to get better at writing job descriptions. We need to add more details about the job. We also need to modify the words that we are using in order to attract a broader range of applicants.

Something that most of us have never done before is provide a greater level of detail about the job in our description of it. This can include adding in a range of possible salaries. We may also include a description of what a week in this job might be like and what kind of team building we engage in. If we want to go even further, we can lay out what the downsides of accepting this job might be. These items might include having to be on call at times or the large number of emails that the applicant could expect to receive each day.

The good news is that we don’t have to get better at creating job descriptions all by ourselves. It turns out that there is software out there that help us to adjust the wording that we are using in our job descriptions in order to be able to attract a diverse mix of potential candidates. Managers have become frustrated with the job postings that are being used today. Today’s job postings attract people who may not be a good fit for the job or they may attract too many candidates and end up overwhelming your HR department. If you issue a bland description of a job, you may be omitting important information about its day-to-day responsibilities or the downsides of accepting this job. This is information that a job candidate could use to decide if this was a job that they wanted to apply for.

The Right Way To Create A Job Description

One approach that a number of companies are using is to create the very long job description. These job descriptions can contain 1,600 words or run on for three or four pages. What firms are discovering is that this type of job description can be highly effective. The goal of a long job description is to provide a potential candidate with a realistic view of the job. This view can include benefits and possible challenges. These job postings can allow a manager to reach a diverse group of job candidates. Including salary information is done in order to save both sides time later on.

What managers are starting to discover is that even small changes to the words that they use in a job description can have a big impact on who ends up applying for the job. If a manager was to include phrases such as “must like social media” or “is a digital native”, they may end up discouraging older workers from applying for the job. Managers need to understand that there is not just one right answer to how best to write a job description. Instead, we need to understand that the way that a job description should be worded is something that is always evolving. An example of this is that a few years ago, the best job descriptions had an equal split between describing the job and the position. However, now the best job postings highlight the company and attempt to highlight its strengths.

It turns out that that the tone of a job description also matters greatly. If a manager can write a job description using gender neutral language then they will end up attracting higher-quality candidates. These roles will also tend to be filled five days faster than job descriptions with gender specific language. One company that includes a love of learning and the need for analytical skills discovered that they had more women apply for the job. Managers need to learn how to evaluate their job descriptions for gender and ethnicity biases. This can be used as a way to promote more inclusive hiring by the company.

What All Of This Means For You

When a manager has an opening on their team, it is their responsibly to fill it. In order to get this process started, they are the ones who have to sit down and write a job description. However, the problem that we have is that we are not very good at doing this. Our job descriptions don’t attract the right people and they do attract the wrong people. We need to get better.

In a tight job market, candidates have other job prospects. Our job descriptions need to have more details and they have to be worded in a way to attract a more diverse group of candidates. Adding more detail may mean talking about the salary, what the job is like, and any downsides associated with the job. Software exists to help us do this correctly. If we issue a bland job description we’ll get too many of the wrong candidates. One approach to creating a better job description is to create a very long job description. This can allow a manager to provide a good description of the job. The words that we use in our job descriptions can have a big impact on who applies for them. Managers need to be careful about what tone they use when creating a job description – they want to attract all genders and all ethnicities.

At the end of the day, as a manager your responsibility is to create the most effective team that you can. In order to do this, you need to create job descriptions that will work for you. Getting good at doing is a critical manager skill. Take the time to learn how to do this correctly and you’ll discover that you now have the best candidates applying to become a member of your team.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: Who do you think that you could get to review your next job description in order to see if it’s good enough?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As managers we know that staffing our teams with the best people for the job is a critical part of creating teams that can accomplish great things. However, all too often when you take a look at how a company is going about hiring people, you’ll discover that somehow the process has become broken. Lots of companies like to talk about making the hiring process better, but they don’t seem to know how to go about doing this. What needs to change?