Many companies are losing great candidates because they don’t know what is wrong with their job description. 

They say you never get another chance to make a first impression and that is something which all the consultants here at People Place emphasize to our clients. Effectively, when you are looking to recruit, you are entering a market where only the best offers will win.

If your job description is not compelling, you will not attract the top talent that you are looking for.

However, I don’t want to get into the mechanics of what makes a compelling job description. Instead, I want to discuss something that is a major source of frustration for both employers and prospective employees (and recruitment agencies!).

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“This position doesn’t match the job description”

One of the biggest complaints we get from new hires during the onboarding process is that the job description did not match the actual job.

It may seem like simple common sense to describe any job you are offering as accurately as possible, but it is surprising how many companies get it wrong. Recruiting a new member of staff, even for a relatively low level position, is an expensive process in terms of both time and resources, so getting it wrong can hit a company’s bottom line.

It can also affect staff morale. Losing a great new employee after a few weeks not only creates a sense of failure but can also lead to existing employees wondering what is so wrong with their company that their new colleague left so abruptly.

The simple reason companies get job descriptions wrong

In my experience, this mismatch between the description and the actual job is not the result of a company seeking to deliberately mislead candidates. Rather, it is the consequence of the company not putting enough thought and effort into pinning down exactly why they need this new employee, how they fit into the organization and what their duties and responsibilities will be.

Of course, there are other parts of the job description that are equally important. We need to include the candidates’ required skills and qualifications, the type of employment (full-time or part-time, temporary or permanent, paid or unpaid, in-company or remote), career progression and the salary range and benefits.

But, while all these are necessary, they don’t have the same potential capacity to go awry as the why, the how and the what.

Let’s look at these 3 questions and how we can get them right.

Job description process Step 1: Do you really need a new employee?

So we have this common scenario:

A department head comes to the HR department and says, “We’re snowed under and can’t get all our work done. We need more staff.”

This can be a tricky situation for HR because there could be reasons for this issue that are difficult to broach, such as whether the department is being well-managed and working effectively. Or perhaps the current heavy workload is seasonal, or the result of a promotional campaign and so does not merit adding a member to the team.

The default reply should never be “Let’s hire” because there are always alternatives and constraints. For example, one alternative could be to see if there are employees in other departments who are underemployed and could take on extra duties. Constraints include budget and the company’s growth projections.

Even if the demand for a new hire comes from a current employee exiting the company, the question “Do we need to replace this person?” needs to be asked. And, “If so, should they do exactly the same job, or do we need to revamp the duties and responsibilities?”

Recruitment decisions need a holistic company overview, with input from the various departments, to ensure that any new job offer fits in with the company’s needs and goals.

This is a process where we can also help, as our experience in contingency management allows us to come up with a whole range of solutions tailored to each company’s specific needs.

Job description process Step 2: How does the new employee fit in?

You need to be very clear on which department the person will be working in and who they will be reporting to. During the interview process, candidates want to meet their potential immediate supervisor to have an idea if they are a person they could have a good working relationship with. In this age of LinkedIn and ratings websites you can be sure that candidates will be checking out any future colleagues before committing.

It is also necessary to outline where candidates will fit in to the company’s overall structure. Having this information clearly signposted gives jobseekers the reassurance that they are looking at a company which is organized and has a clear structure.

Job description process Step 3: What will the key duties be?

The description of the duties and responsibilities need to be very specific and give the candidate a clear idea of how much time each of them will take up.

Vague descriptions like “from time to time assist in lead generation” are not very helpful. “From time to time” is an expression that is a red flag to many people, and what exactly does “assist in lead generation” mean? Am I going to be standing in the street dressed as a cuddly animal handing out leaflets?

You might think this is an absurd example but, an age of bait and switch, fake news and exaggerated marketing claims, people often picture the worst-case scenario when there are no specifics available.

Again, this is an area where the company must make sure that description and reality are very close.

Having said that, one final word of advice – don’t drill down to the tiniest detail.

If there are one or two minor things you missed out, don’t worry. Nobody generally complains about a little bit of “job creep” because it’s not really a big deal.

It’s when expectations don’t match reality that you sabotage your job description and your recruitment efforts.

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This post was written by Eva Andreskova, Prague Branch Operations Manager.

Eva joined the Group in 2013 as a Recruitment Consultant, and has been successfully working her way up to her current position. Becoming responsible for the entire branch business operations in Prague and extending her responsibilities outside the Czech Republic. Working closely with managers at all levels in the clients’ portfolio ensuring recruitment quality delivery and client satisfaction is always at the highest standards.

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