How Fresh Job Descriptions Can Help Your Recruitment Efforts Bloom

Spring cleaning usually includes airing out rooms, dusting off furniture, and retrieving summer clothes from your spare closet. It’s a necessary evil that also has a useful—and potentially more rewarding—application in business.


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Spring is a great time for HR leaders and hiring managers to unearth their companies’ stale job descriptions; inspect them for tired, old phrases; and infuse them with creative, new language. Doing so can make all the difference in attracting the best talent—or not.

Keeping the Basics

We’re not talking about throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Every job description needs some of the same information—position title and description, company information and location, and job responsibilities and requirements.

But even the basics don’t have to be boring. Job hunters (and those who aren’t looking) want to know that your company is stable and offers growth opportunities, so don’t be afraid to use buzzwords that paint that picture.

Something else that is becoming an important part of all job descriptions: why candidates should consider the opportunity at hand. This is your chance to entice the reader by distinguishing your firm from the rest of the pack.

The key is to appeal directly to them with specific ways they can make a difference for your firm. Consider something like this (which we wrote for one of our clients):

  • You will be leading U.S. sales efforts and have a direct impact on a growing organization.
  • You will not be “taking orders”; you will be encouraged to bring your own ideas to the table.
  • You will have exposure to a fast-paced entrepreneurial environment.
  • You will be working in one of the hottest sectors of our industry. Our product is the future.

Something else in the category of keeping the basics is employee benefits. They are typically mentioned in job descriptions but often in a ho-hum, matter-of-fact kind of way. There is an opportunity here, too, particularly if your company is offering extraordinary perks, such as free college tuition to employees and their family members. By all means, be sure to emphasize that in an obvious and interesting way.

Adding the Sizzle

Beefing up a job description isn’t rocket science, but it can be tricky if you don’t know exactly what your company is all about. That may sound silly. After all, you work there. But as an internal exercise, consider performing an in-depth situation assessment by diving into your company’s DNA—from its culture, style, values, and key strategic issues to distinguishing characteristics and perks that would entice a candidate to come on board. Ask questions, and gather the facts. Then, use the information to shape the narrative and tell the company’s compelling story.

In revising a job description, also consider what matters to the outside world, including what is important to jobseekers and how—from generation to generation—things change.

For example, know the hot buttons for tech-savvy, career-minded Millennials, including their views on commuting to work and the importance of family, corporate culture, and the ability to make a social impact.

If your company permits or even requires teleworking, be sure to emphasize that in the job description. Similarly, if your firm practices work/life balance—the doors close at 5 p.m. and everyone goes home—that detail should be front and center, too.  And if your office is a colorful, relaxed, fun place with lots of natural light where everyone gets together for happy hour on Friday afternoon, say so!

Finally, if your company sponsors or is otherwise involved in philanthropic efforts, contributes to important medical research, or is environmentally vigilant, include a sentence or two about that, as well. All of these perks are important selling points that will separate your firm from the competition.

A Success Story

Duffy Group recently helped a nonprofit client based in Yuma, Arizona, a largely agricultural city with a population of 104,000, with its hiring needs. The city is 185 miles west of Phoenix, one of our designated recruitment areas, and relocation to Yuma was required.

That posed a challenge. But thinking outside the box, Duffy Group found photographs depicting the natural beauty in and around Yuma—glorious sunsets and lush fields of emerald-green produce—and wrote a job description that, in part, touted the city’s community-mindedness.

Our search uncovered four highly qualified candidates in Phoenix and Tucson, one of whom was hired for a newly created position.

And speaking of new positions, there is nothing quite like the opportunity to create something from scratch. Putting your company’s best foot forward in a job description could be the hook you need to attract great people. On the other hand, a lackluster job description can kill your chances of hiring the best talent.

Kathleen Duffy is president and CEO of Duffy Group, Inc., which sources and recruits candidates in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, Europe, and Asia.

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