What do Job Seekers Actually See in a Job Description?

Mar 15, 2016 - Joe Matar
At this very moment, there are upwards of 5.7 million job posts competing with yours for job seekers’ attention. It’s true. According to data from The Conference Board, there were 5.7 million job postings this past November, the highest total since counting began in 2005. And that number continues to climb daily. With so many job postings online, you need to send a clear message to attract quality candidates. You may think your job post describes the job and organization, but what do job seekers actually see? How do they read your job post? Take a look through your job seekers' eyes. To learn how to write a great job description, avoid these three all-too-common mistakes:

1. Your Job Description Is Too Long

What You Think Your Job Description Says: A Thorough Description of the Position

The work is the most important part of the job, so you take the time to hash out the daily ins and outs. You give a detailed description of the responsibilities of the position and other specifics.

What Job Seekers See: TL;DR

When job seekers come across your overly thorough job post, they see one thing — too long; don’t read. At best, job seekers are skimming through brief descriptions for keywords. With so many job posts out there, they’re quickly scanning each one to identify any positions that offer the benefits, salary, flexibility or advancement they are looking for, not a note on how many times a week they’d be required to clean the office coffee maker. If you have a text-heavy job post, hurried job seekers won’t bother to read it.

How to Fix It

Keep job posts short and sweet, and only include the information that matters most to job seekers. Ask employees, especially recent hires, for input on the most important details to use in the post. Divide the post into easy to read sections with subheads, bulleted lists, and pictures and videos, if possible. Job seekers should be able to glance at your post and quickly find the information they are looking for.

2. Your Job Description Is Boring

What You Think Your Job Description Says: A Professional Overview of Your Company

You know brand image is important, and you want job seekers to understand the company and its mission. At the end of the job post, you include a short description about the organization.

What Job Seekers See: Zzzzzz

Job seekers can look at a company website and get an idea of what they do. But they can’t understand what it’s like to work for an organization from the outside. In fact, a survey of more than 10,000 recently hired job seekers found that 49% of respondents said the biggest obstacle in the job search is not knowing what working for an organization is actually like.

How to Fix It

Instead of giving a typical company overview, focus on selling the company culture. It’s a job ad, not just a job post. Tell candidates why they should apply to the organization — what makes it so great? Why should they want to work for you and not a competitor? If you’re stuck, ask employees why they love working for the company, and include their answers in the job post.

3. Your Job Description Sets Candidates Up to Fail

What You Think Your Job Description Says: Clear Instructions to Weed Out Candidates

You want to screen candidates before you even look at their resumes, so you include instructions in your post. You ask candidates to include a certain keyword in their subject line or other task so you can immediately eliminate those who didn’t read the post thoroughly.

What Job Seekers See: A Poor Employer Brand

Masking instructions and using sneaky screening methods to trick job seekers won’t reflect well on your employer brand. Professionals want to work for an employer who wants to see them succeed, not set them up to fail.

How to Fix It

Instead of requiring job seekers to screen themselves, put your job ad in the right places to attract the types of candidates you are looking for. Use professional groups on LinkedIn, industry specific job boards, and other tools and apps to target the right professionals.

How to Write a Great Job Description

There’s a lot of competition for talent, and everyone is vying for their attention online. But if you adjust your job descriptions to give job seekers what they want to see, you can bring in the candidates you need. How do you make your job post stand out? Let us know in comments!   [avatar user="rmelhuish" size="thumbnail" align="left" /] Robyn Melhuish is the Communications Manager at MedReps.com, a job board which gives members access to the most sought after medical sales jobs and pharmaceutical sales jobs on the Web. Connect with Robyn and MedReps.com on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.   attract-candidates-engage-talent-ebook