I was talking with my daughter, who graduated from college last May. So she’s basically a late Millennial or very early Gen Z, and currently in the job market. She was lamenting the problems of the job search process, and how all the jobs and every company had a sameness to them. I did a little research, and here is what I found:

  • Most of her searches started in one of three places: 1) a search engine 2) a job aggregator 3) a specific company website at the Search Jobs function. After looking through some of the research JWT has assembled and pushed out in various articles and blogs, this seemed to make sense.
    – Depending on what survey you look at, 75%+ of all job searches begin at a search engine or job aggregator
  • Her comment about sameness rang true. Reviewing the Google Analytics for several major clients revealed that the .com/search-jobs/ page is one of the top pages for candidate usage. For the most part, this leads a candidate to standard job requisition pages that have a real “We are”, “You will”, You must have”, “We offer” type of format. No wonder it all looks the same.

Now, I think we can all agree that every company wants to fill their jobs with smart, effective people whose talents and expectations are in line with the company’s needs and expectations. A job description that’s clear and honest – and smart! – is a good place to start.

So, what is a ‘Smart Job Description’?

Let’s start with what it is NOT. It does not need to sound like nine committees and a legal department produced it.

It SHOULD BE content driven with unique content that can be dynamically generated so that it is relevant to the individual job seeker. It can be colloquial and professional at the same time, including specific callouts for the candidate to engage them. Keep your eye out for HR-speak, florid adjectives and easy clichés. Write as though you’re talking directly to the person you most want to respond; it will help you get that “human-to-human” tone you want.

Use this language to make sure you answer a candidate’s basic questions. Do I want this job? Do I want to join this company? Am I qualified for this job?

Let’s start with Do I want this job? You can think about the job in two ways, the impact and “task list”, and determine which is most marketable. For most jobs, it’s the impact, its larger purpose. What is its benefit to the company, to customers, the world we live in? Might your sales role mean “meeting sales quotas”, or opening new markets and launching new products? Does the receptionist role “answer phones and greet visitors,” or is it the chance to be the face and voice of the office, setting a tone for all who enter? Is the job a chance to lead? To bring about change? To interact and learn? Be honest, but it’s ok to stoke the reader’s imagination of what might be possible if it really is. And if you really want to be smart add video to the individual job details page that is specific to the job.

Hey, it sounds like a great job so far, but…. Do I want to join this company? As we say at JWT INSIDE, “People join cultures, not companies.” Feel free to talk about the culture in positive yet realistic terms. Again, what is the company’s contribution to the society, its larger purpose that this prospect may want to be part of? What is the mood or ‘spirit’ of the company? Not every culture is right for every prospect, and you don’t want someone taking a job they love in a company hate. Here is a good place to avoid the easy clichés: “It’s fast-paced” or “A dynamic environment”. Instead, go with how the people in your organization describe it when not writing an ad. Infographics, facebook page news feeds in a right hand rail and other content can be programmed in to your ‘smart’ job description. (We understand that a job requisition is, in many respects, a compliance document, and you may not be able to get all of this information into the actual job description. But…that does not preclude you from including this type of information on the individual job details page.)

Am I qualified for this job? Applying for jobs and reviewing the applications takes time, so you want to make sure you and your prospect are right for each other just in a functional way – the task list. You will have to include the job’s main activities and requirements; just make sure you put in enough information for prospects to see if they’re reasonably qualified but avoid excruciating detail. For example, if you’re writing a nursing ad, remember that nurses know what nurses do, so don’t waste words on the obvious, but talk about your role specifically. And, as noted above, employee-generated content from the people who are actually in the company, and better yet, even in the specific department, can be generated easily and included in a job details page. It provided the additional value of not only “Am I qualified for this jobs?”, but also “Does this company/department feel like the right fit for me?”

There are a variety of technologies available today which allow videos, widgets and content to be easily added to individual pages to provide a fuller picture for what, realistically, is one of the biggest decisions people make in their lives and you make for your company. Remember, a good, smart description is about the reader as much as it is about the employer, and it answers the prospect’s questions before they have to be asked. How is your company making your job descriptions smart? Let us know.

JWT INSIDE is a strategic creative agency that employs analytic technology to help companies attract and communicate with top talent. To learn about the many ways we can help your organization maximize its recruitment efforts, email us at conversations@jwt.com.

As a thirty-year recruitment advertising industry veteran, Doug has extensive experience and an in-depth knowledge of every aspect of HR strategy development, creative development, communications planning, online sourcing, internal communications, business process improvement, and talent acquisition process analysis and statistical tracking. His years of experience and business background, combined with his in-depth knowledge of the HR arena and training in Six Sigma quality process, led him to a unique position within JWT INSIDE as Director of Technology Products.