Why Your Job Descriptions Are Letting You Down

The recruitment landscape constantly evolves, influenced by changing candidate and employer priorities, introducing new roles and adopting new technologies.

Yet even in this fast-moving landscape, one thing remains consistent: the importance of job descriptions.

More than just a laundry list of the essential skills candidates need to thrive in a role, job descriptions are critical to attracting top talent, setting expectations and elevating your employer brand. In a world where employers are struggling to fill the talent gaps in their teams, ensuring your job descriptions are making the right impression is essential.

Unfortunately, countless employers miss out on top talent because their job descriptions aren’t engaging, informative, or inclusive enough to resonate with modern candidates. Here’s how you can overcome the issue of sub-par job descriptions once and for all in 2024.

The Essential Components of a Successful Job Description

On a broad level, job descriptions provide candidates with all the information they need about the responsibilities of a role, the skills, experiences and qualifications they need to thrive, and the benefits an employer can offer. However, they can also accomplish so much more.

For many job seekers, the job description will be one of the first things they evaluate when deciding whether to apply for a role. Having a job description that contains relevant information that appeals to today’s candidates will boost your chances of attracting suitable candidates and convincing them to accept your job offers.

While the exact language and information used in your job description can vary, an effective document should always include:

  • A job title and summary: A clear and jargon-free description of the role and associated responsibilities. Make sure this section is clear, straightforward and descriptive.
  • Detailed duties and responsibilities: A list of key responsibilities and tasks successful candidates will need to complete to thrive in the role.
  • Necessary qualifications and skills: Any specific hard and soft skills required for the role, such as excellent communication skills or proficiency with certain tools.
  • Compensation and benefits: An overview of the remuneration and wider benefits that may be available, such as flexible working options.
  • Company culture: Insights into the core values and priorities in your business, as well as your approach to diversity and inclusion.
  • Development opportunities: An insight into the potential for growth within the role and future career progression.

Why Inclusivity is Crucial to Job Descriptions in 2024

Many factors can influence the success of a job description in 2024. For instance, studies show that candidates regularly assess attractive benefits, high salaries and company culture before deciding whether to apply for a role. However, in 2024, one of the most significant factors that will impact the appeal of your job descriptions is their level of inclusivity.

76% of candidates in today’s recruitment landscape say diversity and inclusivity are central to deciding which company to work for. Evidence of unconscious bias in your job descriptions can significantly reduce your chances of attracting the right talent to your team.

Additionally, on a broader level, taking a proactive approach to D&I in the workplace delivers many other benefits, from increased productivity and engagement to reduced staff turnover. McKinsey found the most diverse workforces were also the most successful financially.

Here are some ways to optimise your job descriptions for inclusivity.

1.      Avoid Gender-Coded Language

Gender bias in job descriptions is more common than you think. The language you use can heavily influence who responds to your job listings. According to one study, words like “dominant” or “competitive” can be perceived as more “masculine” in job descriptions.

Alternatively, terms like “collaborative” and “nurturing” are more likely to resonate with female applicants. A.I. tools can help you evaluate your job descriptions and pinpoint potentially “gender-coded language”. Alternatively, you can ask your recruitment agency to highlight any terms that may dissuade certain candidates from interacting with you.

2.      Look for Evidence of Other Biased Language

Unconscious bias in job descriptions doesn’t just show through in potentially “gender-coded” terminology. Some other words and descriptors can also subtly demonstrate bias. For instance, your language could show a preference towards:

  • People of a certain ethnicity: Asking for “local” employees or stipulating certain language requirements when these arent essential to the role you are seeking to fill can demonstrate racial bias.
  • Candidates of a certain age: Describing your ideal candidate as a “fresh young go-getter” or an “industry veteran” may restrict the age range of your job applicants.
  • People without disabilities: Asking for people with specific physical attributes or skills without referencing your ability to make accommodations for those with disabilities makes it harder to attract employees with a range of abilities.

3.      Minimise Corporate Jargon

Many companies use jargon, acronyms and technical terms in their job descriptions and other documentation. While these terms may make sense to existing members of staff and stakeholders, they can be confusing for new employees to understand.

Listings that rely heavily on such terms may be unable to capture the attention of highly skilled employees who have yet to learn the language of the industry. With this in mind, deliberately choose words and phrases that aren’t overly “industry-specific” when crafting job descriptions.

If you need to use a specific technical term, consider using a descriptor alongside it to help applicants understand exactly what you’re looking for.

4.      Highlight your D&I Commitment

One easy way to demonstrate diversity and inclusion in your job descriptions is to include specific information about your D&I initiatives in the document. In the section where you discuss your company’s culture, talk about your commitment to providing equal opportunities to everyone.

Mentioning that you’re an equal opportunity employer makes clear that you welcome all applicants equally and that you don’t discriminate against employees or candidates based on irrelevant characteristics. You could even reference your strategy for training your employees and managers on D&I practices.

Alternatively, you might highlight awards you’ve won based on your diversity and inclusion strategies or positive feedback you’ve received from previous employees. If you’re listing your job description online, include a link to a website page with more information.

5.      Work With a Recruitment/Search Company

Collaborating with a recruitment/search company can benefit many employers, particularly in today’s skills-short landscape. A recruiter/search executive who shares your focus on diversity and inclusion can help you tailor your job descriptions for the current market.

They can help you to recognise evidence of bias or discrimination in your language that you might otherwise miss. They can also advise you on finding training resources and support that will help you optimise diversity and inclusion in your hiring journey.

Some leading recruitment and staffing companies can leverage innovative strategies to help reduce unconscious bias. For instance, they might use blind screening techniques, removing personally identifiable characteristics from the applications they pass onto your teams. This can help you focus on a person’s skills and abilities when short-listing your options.

Quick Tips for More Effective Job Descriptions

Ensuring your job descriptions are inclusive is an excellent way to boost your chances of attracting top talent. However, there are other steps you can take to optimise and enhance your job descriptions, too.

Here are a few additional quick tips for success:

  • Be clear and concise: Use straightforward language to outline all the information your candidates need. Avoid including too much unnecessary information, such as long-winded descriptions of roles and responsibilities.
  • Leverage keywords: Incorporating keywords into your job descriptions that match the responsibilities and requirements of your role can make them easier to find in today’s digital world. Avoid confusing buzzwords like “superstar” or “ninja” when choosing role titles.
  • Highlight your E.V.P.: Draw attention to your unique employee value proposition in your job description. Ensure your candidates can see all the benefits of working with your company, going beyond remuneration to cover development opportunities and an inclusive and supportive company culture.
  • Be flexible: Know how to separate your ideal candidates’ “nice to have” attributes from their needed skills and experience. Be open to exploring applications from various people, including new graduates.
  • Avoid common mistakes: Work with a recruitment agency to proofread your job descriptions for errors or inconsistencies. Ensure you’re listing your descriptions on the right platforms and that applying for your role is as simple as possible.

A recruitment company will be able to help you implement all of these tips and strategies to give you the best possible chance of attracting the right talent in 2024.

Write the Best Job Descriptions in 2024

The right job descriptions are crucial to attracting and retaining top talent in 2024. More than just simple documents, good job descriptions boost your chances of improving candidate quality and fit, reducing the time it takes to fill positions and optimising your employer brand.

They also ensure you can start your relationship with your new employee based on mutual understanding, clarity and clear expectations.

Kind regards

Neil Scarborough – Managing Director

At The Recruiting Office, we have been helping firms with their talent acquisition and a wide range of job seekers find their ideal roles for over a decade and have successfully placed hundreds of top tier candidates. If you want to find out how we can help you – call us on 01603 964816 or email neil@therecruitingoffice.co.uk

Further Reading:

Cultural Fit: Why it’s Important in Your Hiring Strategy
Hiring Trends Impacting Your Job Search in 2024