Seeking fulfilling employment? Here’s what you need to know about job descriptions

September 18, 2018 Caitlin Leishman

Applying to a new job can be an overwhelming process. Depending on your field, location, job sites you use, and search terms you’re familiar with, you could be inundated with many job postings. An active job seeker may read more than a dozen job descriptions a day, which is a time-consuming process. Your goal should be to hone your ability to identify promising opportunities and avoid dead-end job openings.

You can tell a lot about an organization by how they write their job descriptions. At a basic level, an effective job description covers the responsibilities, prior experience, education, and skills required for a job. But most job descriptions have this information. The trick is to look for job descriptions that give you greater insight into finding a perfect job and organizational fit.

 The first step should be to make sure you meet at least half of the requirements described. Keep in mind that requirements are usually listed in descending order of importance. Often job descriptions include every possible qualification that a perfect candidate would have, but if you’re missing a few qualifications they may not be critical gaps. Once you’ve determined that you’re reasonably qualified for a role, you can take a closer look at whether there are any responsibilities on the list that you strongly dislike or don’t perform well. If the job title matches with your career aspirations but the actual tasks don’t line up, it’s unlikely you will be happy in that role. Another good tip is to compare the position’s main duties with the organization’s mission statement and values. If the job’s tasks line up with the organization’s overall progress, you’re likely to find yourself in a role where you will feel engaged and productive.

There are certain red flags you should be aware of when looking at a job description:

  1. There is a lack of clarity and detail. If you can’t tell what your day to day responsibilities will be, or how your performance will be evaluated you might want to give this job a pass. If you’re intrigued by some aspect of the ad, you can always reach out to the hiring manager for more details.
  2. An overly long list of required credentials. This indicates that the hiring manager is just creating a wish list of qualifications that’s not necessarily realistic.
  3. Contradictory statements such as “entry level expert”. This could be due to a lack of understanding on the part of HR, or an attempt to acquire a highly skilled employee for an entry level salary.

At HRSG we’ve developed hundreds of competency-driven job descriptions for organizations to use in their recruitment and selection practices. Competency-driven job descriptions are ideal because they allow an organization to clearly communicate the skills and behaviors required to successfully perform all job-related tasks. Organizations can also add core competencies to competency-driven job descriptions. While not specifically pertaining to job descriptions, these competencies that are based on key values, such as teamwork and initiative, apply to everyone in your organization. Competencies clearly communicate your organizational direction and employees can now see how they fit into the big picture and whether their values align with those of your organization.

If you’re currently in the process of looking for new employment, these tips can help you make more effective use of your time in applying to worthwhile job opportunities. If you’re an employer looking for more information on how to use competency-driven job descriptions to enhance your recruitment and selection process, check out our resource hub or contact our team today!

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