Four Job Description Mistakes to Correct Now

Making job seekers fill impossible prerequisites or decipher cryptic language will turn qualified candidates away from your organization. Here’s how to improve your job descriptions.

There’s been talk in recent years about long-standing hiring “red flags” that shouldn’t be held against candidates anymore. Hiring experts have challenged certain notions as outdated, such as the idea that a gap in one’s resume is a sign of inconsistency or that a “job hopper” is inherently unreliable and won’t commit to your team.

But there’s another component of the hiring process that might benefit from the same sort of reevaluation: the job description.

The internet is awash with posts from frustrated and bewildered job seekers who come across job descriptions that are confusing, condescending, or include unrealistic requirements. (How do you have four years of experience with a web framework that’s only existed for a year and a half?)

A good job description will find you the right candidate. When crafting your own, consider these key “don’ts” so you can create stronger job postings that attract the people you want.

Mandating a Degree

Some jobs truly do require knowledge that can’t be absorbed through experience or association-specific credentials. But listing a degree as a “must” can be a barrier to hiring diverse talent (and might make you look like a “lazy employer”). There are plenty of jobs at all levels that can be completed without a degree, and demanding one in those cases might mean excluding strong candidates.

Omitting a Salary Range

As with mandating a college degree, leaving out salary ranges has DEI implications. Plus, knowing a range for a job can help attract the right candidates—and more of them.

“When people are searching for work, [compensation] is the most salient concern typically. So if they don’t find the [salary] information they need, they may not waste the time going through the process at all,” said Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, in an interview with CNN Business.

Sacrificing Clarity for Creativity

If you want dynamic, versatile people with experience overhauling a department, then it’s best to say it just like that on your job descriptions. Don’t say you want a rock star, ninja, warrior, or jedi. It may be tempting to have fun with your postings as a way to stand out or attract creative people, but such descriptions will most likely come off as vague and may seem like they’re catered just to men or young candidates, keeping qualified individuals away. Quirky titles may even signal to some that your organization is trying to compensate for an unhealthy work culture with fun or positive job descriptions.

Poor Grammar

Before you submit your job description, read it over to double-check for any spelling or grammatical errors. You want candidates to be punctual, professional, and accurate, which means you should hold your own organization to the same standards. Job candidates will notice errors—and errors are all too common, said Ian Siegel, founder and CEO of ZipRecruiter, in an interview with Fast Company.

“If you are a job seeker, seeing misspelled words or poor grammar in a job posting is a potential warning sign that the hiring company is unprofessional and lacking in attention to detail. Those are terrible attributes in a workplace, and a real deterrent to applications from highly qualified candidates,” Siegel said.

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Michael Hickey

By Michael Hickey

Michael Hickey is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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