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You May Want to Rethink Your Job Listing Language...

Posted by Jeff Pelliccio on Jul 15, 2019 9:00:00 AM

In ICS insights, client

When you are looking for perfect candidates for a job, it would be more fitting if your job listings perfectly describe the available position. While you might want a coding guru or a sales ninja, it’s just unnecessary to use terminologies like that in your job descriptions.

It’s time for job listings to do what they are supposed to do: describe the job and the ideal candidate. No more. No less.

Too Much Fluff, Not Enough Substance

Before the World Wide Web took over the role of the newspaper's help-wanted section, job descriptions were laconic, because human resources departments paid for every word. It was commonplace to find job descriptions with a brief explanation of the job and what qualifications the candidates should have. Now, online job descriptions read like a high school student’s essaylong on fluff, short on substance.

Crafting job listings has become an exercise in maneuvering through a thesaurus. Imagine trying to search for a job and, at the same time, trying to figure out how anyone could accomplish a job like this: “communications warrior who can optimize bookings while energizing the troops and building stockpiles with passion.” Wouldn’t it just be easier to advertise that you need a receptionist who can answer phones, schedule meetings, get coffee, and order supplies?

It’s Work, Not Play

Along with the extreme descriptions, all too many human resources departments only want employees who do their jobs with passion or humoror both. Yes, there are people out there who do enjoy their careers but remember, this is work, not play.

And work, by definition, isn’t something that generally involves unbridled enthusiasm or laughter. Instead, work is something we do to earn an income, and sadly, income growth isn't all about being passionate or enthusiastic.

Missing Out on Qualified Candidates

With the oddly written job descriptions, qualified candidates don’t apply. The descriptions make it seem like people who have lives outside of work should not apply. The job descriptions do not take into account the reality of a workplace culture where the team matters, not just the superstar ninja warrior guru employee.

With the abstract language, job seekers aren’t sure what employers want. Candidates might say they are passionate or enthusiastic, but how often are employers expecting passion and enthusiasm in the workplace? Employees want to do well in their jobs, but being a sales champion isn’t just realistic for anyone.

Do Your Job Descriptions Discriminate?

So who doesn’t apply for superstar ninja warrior job openings? Turns out these types of job descriptions have discriminatory language against age and gender. Consider who might be interested in a job with these terms and who might not be interested:

  • Ninja
  • Decisive
  • Assertive
  • Nurturing
  • Hacker
  • Feisty
  • Superior

If you are adding words to build emotion in the job description, then you might want to consider the facts of the job. Answer these questions with only necessary words:

  • What are the job's daily tasks?
  • What experience does the ideal candidate need?
  • What education does the ideal candidate need?
  • Is the job full-time or part-time?
  • Where does the job need to be performed?

Just the Facts

Instead of using adjectives and abstract terms, why not just use the skills and experience that you want in a candidate? What’s wrong with advertising that you want to hire an accountant with a master’s degree and at least five years of experience in a corporate setting? Nothing. In fact, you might actually get real candidates who fit that description.

Working with Ninjas and Rockstars

Have you ever tried to work with a ninja? They can actually be rather challenging to manage. Ninjas are good at sneaking around and performing illegal activities. They aren’t necessarily skilled at collaboration, coding, communication, or other 21st-century workplace skills.

Have you seen how much rock stars get paid? If you can’t pay a customer service rockstar more than $15 per hour, then you probably won't get a rockstar as the real ones demand millions or at least six figures.

Take Job Listing Algorithms Into Account

Job descriptions should fit with the language that job-board algorithms use. If you are looking for a database manager, don’t ask for a ‘database daddy’ as the algorithms that sort resumes won’t be able to match candidates for you. Think of the keywords that job seekers will use and fill your job descriptions with those terms. If you want someone who can write in Java and Python, include it in the job description.

Along with not matching algorithms that sort resumes, job listings that look for ninjas and rock stars don’t give much explanation about the actual job. When people are hired for abstract job descriptions, they are often disappointed on-the-job. They don’t stick around, so the company has to look for a new candidate all over again. It’s a waste of time for everyone involved.

Human Resources Changes

Job hunting became a crapshoot when human resources departments became less human and more automated. Human resources departments have changed over the years, and they are more about compliance than managing the resources of humans in the office. Too many overqualified people are seeing jobs that don’t pay well and don’t offer much satisfaction. To draw attention to available jobs, descriptions became verbose and overblown. In a way, job descriptions became desperate.

The way that people move through the workplace has changed, too. In previous decades, employees moved up in the ranks, with employers giving promotions to their most talented employees. Now, those talented employees are snapped by other companies who can offer slightly more to the best of the best.

Accuracy Pays Off

If you want to attract employees who will stick around, it’s time to rethink the way job descriptions are written. The descriptions should accurately describe the job and the workplace itself. The keyword is ‘accurate’so if the workplace is family-friendly, then in an actual setup, employees should be able to take time off to attend their children’s activities at school. If this is not encouraged in the company, then the job description should not mention about a family-friendly workplace. Employees might leave the company if they find out that the job description is not true to the experience.

If employers want employees who can do the necessary jobs and who'll actually stick around, they need to focus their job descriptions on what matters: good pay, benefits, flexibility, and realistic job listings. Employers should leave the bombastic, discriminatory, desperate descriptions behind and focus on truthful advertising.

After all, once a ninja rockstar customer service guru finds out that the job isn’t really filled with sneaky warfare, loud music, and spiritual teaching, but is just an entry-level job that entails taking phone calls from angry customers for minimum wage with no benefits, the employee might be extremely disappointed.

Now's your chance to impress jobseekers with benefits and opportunities rather than wordy job listings. Click below to start hiring the right match for the actual job from ICS' pool of top-caliber candidates.

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