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Job Descriptions are Going Away

Job descriptions have been around since the early days of organized work. At its core, it is the way employers conveyed the need for activities to be done in exchange for a reward. People looking for work have relied on job descriptions dating back hundreds of years. In the era of organized labor and thus forming “organizations,” job descriptions have served multiple purposes. The purposes are to ensure equity in how each job was paid, consistency in requirements in terms of skills and qualifications required and overall helped assess for hiring and career mobility and progression when promoting people.

There is no doubt that job descriptions are the anchor for how work is defined and rewarded. HR trends are built around this anchor with job codes. However, as work itself has evolved so rapidly in the age of digitalization, the job descriptions have not kept up with the way work gets done. Large organizations, especially, are going through so much change so fast with shrinking or flat HR software and budgets that the architecture and definition of work is in serious need of overhaul with scalability built into drive differentiation.

As work has evolved and there is increased competition of talent, the job description, which is the anchor of how work is defined in an organization, remains in the HR systems but has given way to job postings that are externally facing to attract talent. The content for these two related but distinct areas are vastly different.

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The job description serves all the aforementioned purposes and the job posting serves as the organization’s opportunity to sell the value proposition of what separates them from the rest. A typical job posting today likely has the following attributes and talent acquisition give or take:

  • Company vision/mission/values
  • Role title, location, reporting relationship
  • Responsibilities
  • Key skills and qualifications

While these are all important attributes to share with a prospective candidate, often they end up with long, text-heavy content with corporate jargon that fail to attract and engage passive and diverse talent sourcing. A main issue with job postings today is they have too many unnecessary requirements listed, as well as the language used in the jobs, which detracts diverse candidates from considering the job. The job postings are typically text based with minimal to no visuals. The lack of visualization also misses out on key talent pools. For example, imagine a remote job especially in the post pandemic world that is advertised to include images of para-ability or someone who is unable to drive to the office. This form of imagery is more powerful than any text on a job posting to attract a variety of talent pools.

As almost all jobs are now advertised online, a key trend is shorter attention spans of users. The average attention span of an online user today is around 6 seconds and getting shorter. Organizations have under 6 seconds to grab the right users’ attention to convert them into applicants for the job posting. This is where job visualization and inclusive imagery play an important role in job postings. Images have 6x higher engagement compared to text.

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What else can you do to make your current job descriptions more effective?

You do not need to be supremely creative when it comes to creating the best job descriptions for your organization. You are expected to be concise and clear. Here are some additional tips:

Start with an engaging overview

The short overview should feature the description of the major function of the job. It should also specify how the job will contribute to major objectives of the company and why it is important to the entire organization.

Avoid superlatives

Extreme high-end languages like ‘best of the best’ and ‘world class’ will prevent the candidates from applying to the particular job. You should avoid using hyped language in the job description.

Talk about your company’s achievement

In the job description, you should highlight the achievements and objectives of your job description to draw the attention of the right talent and skilled candidates. In addition to specifying the achievements of your organization, you should highlight the benefits of working within the organization with an impressive work culture.

Kevin Legara
Author: Kevin Legara