Talent Acquisition

5 Job Description Mistakes That Scare Away Top Talent

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A friend of mine recently became frustrated with her job search when it came to job descriptions. “Every company wants 5+ years of experience,” she complained. “I only have three.” Frankly, this left me baffled. After all, everyone knows that companies sometimes exaggerate the qualifications for a role, right? Wrong. My friend, a graduate of a prominent law school and a generally impressive candidate, was merely taking job descriptions at face value. She assumed there was no wiggle room, despite her great qualifications.

This is just one example of a number of ways companies scare off quality candidates. Here are a few common job description “fails” to avoid so that you don’t dissuade that best next hire:

Incomplete Information

Without necessary details, a job description sometimes creates more questions than it answers.  Too often, a posting lacks these basics:

  • Job title
  • Location
  • Details about the role
  • Responsibilities
  • Requirements
  • Next steps to apply

With little exception, every one of these points should be covered.

Poor Formatting

Two signs of a weak job description are that it is A) hard to read and B) ugly. Paragraphs are lengthy, lists aren’t broken up into bullet points, HTML code snuck onto the Web page, other page elements are causing distractions, etc.

Unfortunately, these untidy aesthetics can make a company look equally sloppy. A truly successful company should have a truly presentable job description.

All Steak and No Sizzle

Many companies neglect using a job description to make the best first impression. Basic info and formatting might be included, but they’re coupled with nothing compelling. Left out are unique and exciting job perks, company awards or achievements or links to great employee reviews on Glassdoor. This is a crucial employer branding moment; it’s one where a company can crash on convincing the best candidates to apply.

Lax Requirements

Often, a job description will only include minimum qualifications (e.g. education levels and skill sets). However, the company is often looking for someone much more specific to fill the role. When attempting to appeal to a wider audience, the description instead invites a wider and less qualified candidate base to apply. In the end, the company spends more time rejecting candidates than actively interviewing them.

A company should thoroughly consider its target audience before listing minimum requirements.

Stringent Requirements

Conversely, the most common job description fail might be the seemingly inflexible laundry list of requirements. A company will appear firm on necessary years of experience, familiarity with numerous software programs, and more. In theory, this measure is used to deter less-than-ideal candidates. In practice, it scares away otherwise qualified talent. The reality is that many “requirements” are really just preferences. Companies can and should distinguish between the two within a job description.

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