Recruiting, Talent

Overselling with Job Descriptions Leads to Disappointment, Turnover

You think you hired the best candidate for the job. The new hire comes to work with a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for a new career. But after 6 months, that candidate is walking out the door, seeking other opportunities. Where did it all go wrong?

More often than not, the breakdown is in your company’s search process.

When someone looks for a job, he or she reads the job description and ensures the skills and experiences on the soon-to-be-submitted résumé and cover letter match the job description as much as possible—hoping to at least get an on-site interview.

The goal of the on-site interview is twofold: The employer is looking to gain an accurate assessment of the potential hire, and the candidate is trying to get an honest representation of the company culture and the job role. Far too often, however, the interviewer oversells the company culture and the possibility for career advancement in the hopes of landing the best candidate.

But after accepting the job offer and starting work, the new hire learns more about the expectations of the job—which no one fully articulated in the interview process. According to the “State of the American place” report, only 60% of employees know what is expected of them at work. After a few months of asking for clarification, the hot candidate you hired leaves because expectations weren’t clear and the career advancement opportunities were not as advertised.

Solve Your Employee Retention Problem

No matter what kind of job you’re looking for, job hunting is a nightmare, consisting of online job descriptions with dissatisfying information in different formats and varying details. It makes it almost impossible to compare job opportunities effectively and find the right fit.

What makes these job descriptions so bad is that some are too heavily focused on culture and how the company is “changing the world.” But only 23% of candidates surveyed by LinkedIn said that company details were the most important part of the job posting. Other job descriptions focus on responsibilities or narrative paragraphs expressing “a day in the life,” while still others center on necessary qualifications and requirements.

The biggest problem is that these job descriptions lack consistency. When companies don’t have a common language for defining roles, they search job board websites such as Indeed and Monster to see how others posted roles. They then use similar language to craft their own job listing, making it impossible to find someone who will be truly successful in the advertised role.

Creating standardized job descriptions will have a positive effect on more than just your hiring process. Formalized job descriptions provide transparency and visibility into the expectations of the job, creating a more meaningful career path and making it easier for your current employees to navigate internal promotions and job shifts.

Develop Standardized Job Descriptions

When a company does not have standardized job descriptions, it’s impossible to accurately convey the expectations of the job, thus providing no meaningful career path. Let’s take a look at some of the first steps HR professionals can take to start the process:

1. Identify a career framework.

First, you need to understand what it takes for your company to deliver customer value and some of the technical competencies required to differentiate your business from others. These competencies you pinpoint will typically reflect your company’s overall culture and values.

Your job candidates will likely be more interested in the skills needed to do the job successfully, especially as the future of work moves away from being exclusively about degrees. For example, there is an increasing number of companies offering well-paying “knowledge” jobs to those without a college diploma.

2. Solidify job competencies.

This will be the most time-consuming part of building the standardized system. Identifying the specific indicators and proficiency scales the management team uses to measure employee competency and giving the metrics to the candidates up front are beneficial. Give explicit and measurable goals to your new hires so they know what they are expected to achieve and the results you’re looking for in the first year of employment.

The industry standard is to build out four levels of proficiency, which gives employees ample opportunity to develop skills along a continuum of greater expectations.

3. Define qualifications.

You’ve defined the skills you’re looking for in candidates and the metrics they need to achieve once hired. Now you need to mention the qualifications you think would help them succeed in this role—such as education, certifications, languages, and job experiences—and what the role requires, such as working full-time or travel.

Competency-based job profiles create a taxonomy for the company to use as a foundation for all hiring initiatives, and they convey to candidates exactly what you’re expecting. Hire the best candidates and retain them for longer with standardized job descriptions across the entire company.

Linda Ginac is the chairman, president, and CEO of TalentGuard. Before TalentGuard, she founded a successful career development franchise, The Ginac Group, serving clients across the United States and Canada since 1999. Before this, Linda was vice president of product strategy at Cofiniti, where she was instrumental in pioneering the company’s global entry into collaborative financial planning using cloud-based technology and preparing the company for a successful exit.

Linda also served as marketing executive at pcOrder, where she collaborated with the team that led the company from a start-up to a NASDAQ-listed public corporation. In prior leadership roles, Linda served as vice president of marketing at EPSIAA, where she led the global expansion of the brand through acquisition by Fiserv; as vice president of business development at Computer People; and in numerous leadership roles at Digital Equipment Corporation.