Tag Archives: job descriptions

Why your job description should be as short as possible

Don’t write long job descriptions, instead pose exciting challenges that inspire candidates and open a dialogue about what role they can play in helping your company.

Thanks to LinkedIn I am fortunate to be contacted with a lot of prospective opportunities. Most of these follow the same predictable process.

Agency/HR person: I have an exciting role that you may be interested in … can I send you the job description?
Me: [After checking the basics] sure I will have a look …

What then happens is that I usually receive an overly detailed job description containing:

  1. An uninspiring job title
  2. A generic checklist of skills and experiences (often not particularly related to the job)
  3. A detailed list of character and professional attributes that are usually generic to any job

Agency/HR person: What did you think?
Me: Do I tell the honest truth or be polite? The answer I give is a combination of both. “I am not interested, the role is not for me”.
Agency/HR person: Why is that? [I am aware that they need to submit a number of candidate CVs and that a good candidate is easy money]

The reason is all too often the same … because there is nothing in any of this that is exciting.

What the company or the agency has done is define a generic role, looking for generic skills to do a generic job. This may not be reflect the reality in the employer, but a generic job description doesn’t help me differentiate between companies. It you ask for generic skills, I see a company that sees me simply as a resource.

Assume that you already have an income and a job you enjoy – why would you be interested in that. People are not resources. I am not.

No company that is going to be great to work for sees people as resources. You cannot say people are your most important asset and then call them resources.

I want a company that doesn’t want to hire generic resources, but wants to engage people. Intelligent, passionate, smart people who want to commit to the challenge and leverage their experience, networks and knowledge to deliver success.  Diverse, interesting and complex people.

This is a world away from the way that most HR companies and most agencies think.

If you want to hire the best people, inspire them from the very start.

Don’t write generic job descriptions, instead define exciting challenges that inspire candidates to play a part in defining HOW the problem is solved.

Don’t define exactly what you think you want in terms of experience (as you may miss excellent candidates), but instead provide a candidate with the opportunity to WOW you. If they can WOW you, they are much more likely to WOW customers, partners and your other employees.

And above all don’t write LONG job descriptions. Write short ones that explain the ambition, inspire passion and challenge the applicant.

There is an overhead to this. It takes longer to deal with real people than electronic CVs, automated sifts are not going to work and you will need to have conversations with more people. The upside though is that not only do you have a better chance of finding a great candidate for the role you are advertising for, you also have a chance to link candidates you see potential in with upcoming roles (thereby removing the whole search task and cost as you can approach directly 1:1 when the time comes). More importantly than this, you have an opportunity to show every unsuccessful candidate why you are a great company. You may not want to hire them today – but you are likely to want to keep them as a future customer, partner or supporter.