Definition of a Job Description
What exactly is a job description?
A job description is a complete record of the required responsibilities, skills and behaviors, knowledge areas, education, and more. You can increase the value of your organization's job descriptions by adding relevant competencies to make those documents more useful for your HR processes.
Writing or creating a job description the right way will help you avoid building a hybrid or “Frankenstein” job description. This kind of job descriptions is usually made using parts from different job descriptions on the Internet and the content is either confusing or does not flow well (in terms of cadence).
8 Job Description Mistakes to Avoid In 2020
If you don't know what not to include in a job description, you might accidentally end up writing a “Frankenstein” job description and that might scare away any good candidates that read your job posting.
Here are eight job description pitfalls or mistakes you can avoid when creating job descriptions for your organization:
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1. Don’t include goals
Organizational goals can change throughout the year. For example, if you owned a farm, your goal might be to have your workers pick 25 bushels a day. If you have more workers or a greater crop yield, this can change your original goal.
For a job description, why mention an organizational goal that may likely change as time goes on? Adding a goal on a job description takes away precious ‘real estate’ on the document. This is space that you could put to better use.
If you have organizational goals, mention them to the successful candidate (post-interview).
2. Don’t include unrealistic expectations
This is a big one as some HR professionals miss this in their focus to create a well written job description.
What your candidates want is honesty about what they are getting into.
Candidates who know your industry can pinpoint unrealistic expectations. It might be a gut feeling, a phrase you try to ‘hide’ or ‘shrink’, or that sentence that sounds too bogus to be true.
For example, Company X asks a candidate to sell products and create marketing content. The problem is that the job description is for an Administrative Assistant.
This would scare away even the best of candidates (Admin. Assistants are busy enough as it is).
Even if someone does accept the position, how confident are you that they would still be there in the next 6 months?
3. Don’t embellish company culture and job role details
Do your company give back to the local community? Does your organization expect its staff to be available on weekends?
Don’t hide or sugarcoat this in the job description. Honesty is key. Be upfront with your candidates about your company culture and the details of their job. They will end up finding out the truth (once hired or through Glassdoor reviews).
If a new hire discovers you misled them, you might be hiring someone that could leave in the next few months.
That’s money and time down the drain to pick the wrong hire.
Be direct in your job descriptions. It will save you from those HR headaches (I.e. impact of a bad hire).
4. Don’t use redundant language within your job descriptions
Be a team player. Must be an excellent communicator.
We see these requirements on various job descriptions but are they useful?
The sad truth is that some of your applicants may not be team players or excellent communicators. Yet these people will still apply for the job posting.
Instead of putting these requirements on a job description, why not assess it when the candidate is in front of you?
The right competency based (behavioral) interview questions can help you with this. Use these questions to assess if your candidate is a team player or an excellent communicator.
5. Don’t use jargon or acronyms
You know what CRM and SaaS mean but that might not be the case for everyone.
Some of your candidates are still learning and may not know every acronym in your industry.
Using such jargon can make your job descriptions difficult to understand. It could also hinder applicants from even applying to your job opening.
You might miss out on a good candidate who can get the training needed to become an excellent employee.
6. Don’t make specific promises about promotions or bonuses
You want to highlight opportunities for growth in your organization. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Just don’t use it as bait to draw in candidates. You might get applicants who are only interested in making money, not adding value to your company.
Transparency is a key part of this. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver.
Make sure your promises are based on actual performance once the candidate is on board.
7. Don’t be afraid to make changes to your job descriptions
The right change is never a bad thing. As your organization grows, so will your job descriptions.
Be proactive with updating your job descriptions. This will lead to a fresher, more relevant HR document which brings more clarity to future candidates.
According to our data, 43% of companies never update their job descriptions at all.
Having regular updates to your job descriptions is important for HR success in your organization. This can be done with the right job description software. From a compliance perspective, it can also act as a safeguard for employers when it comes to legal disputes with employees.
8. Don’t leave out key details
Your goal is to have concise and well formatted job descriptions.
Avoid omitting any important job details when creating a job description. As a safeguard, have two colleagues in relevant job roles review your job description.
After the review process, you can advertise the job description as a job posting (either on your site or an external job board).
Post last updated: May 20, 2020.
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