First day of spring 2015: Job description spring cleaning tips

Congratulations! We've made it. Spring has finally sprung and the wind, rain and frozen fingertips of the past 6 months are set to be replaced by sunshine and the smell of freshly cut grass (hopefully).

Today is OFFICIALLY the first day of spring, so we're encouraging employers to blow away the cobwebs and apply the cleansing customs of the season to one of the messier components of the recruitment process.

Whether they're convoluted, complicated or just plain dishonest, it's time for employers to spring clean their job descriptions.

It's a description AND an advert

Let's first distinguish between a job advert and a job description. A major bane in the life of a recruiter is receiving a list of expectations, responsibilities and requirements from an employer that fails to make any positive reference to the human side of the company; this is a description. Job descriptions act as little more than a clinical overview of the role and ignore the often forgotten fact that companies have to appeal to attractive candidates, as much as job seekers do to potential employers.

A JOB ADVERT sells a company and speaks to the personal needs of a candidate through highlighting the company culture, benefits and opportunities for growth. The purpose of an advert isn't to list every intricate detail of the position but to invite applications from people who would be suitable. Failing to inject a little bit of colour will portray the company as being cold and will likely result in minimal response. So don't be afraid to be sales-y(ish).

List skills that are NEEDED not WANTED

Everyone has an image of their ideal employee. Confident, creative, good writer, technically sound, but are all of these skills really needed to be successful in the job? It's all too easy for companies to go bullet point mad when listing desire qualities of candidates and it's even easier to remain predictably vague with terms like 'interpersonal' and 'good communicator.' These are all valuable traits of course, but just for people in general, not all professions.

There is no such thing as the perfect candidate and by submitting an endless list of desired adjectives, a company has less chance of attracting the right candidate. A shop assistant doesn't necessarily need to know how to use Outlook, while it's not crucial for software developers to have 'people skills.' List the skills that a candidate will need for the job you're asking them to do, not just the skills you'd quite like them to have.

Be clear about responsibilities

Candidates need to be open to some level of flexibility as the nature of modern business means that employees may occasionally have to perform tasks outside of their typical remit. Despite this, being unclear or dishonest about responsibilities is one of the leading reasons for an unsuccessful hire and so employers need to make this as defined as possible from the outset.

Roles can understandably change over time but transparency is ultimately the best policy for employers to adopt when writing a description. Being vague, dishonest or over demanding will only lead to poor job satisfaction and could eventually see companies paying the price for recruiting a bad employee. The key is to be clear, concise and realistic.

Avoid jargon and complicated language (if possible)

All jargon does is suppress elementary lexicon beneath convoluted terminology until it relinquishes all substance. Get it? No? Jargon may make a job seem more impressive than it actually is but all it really does is hide simple language to the point that it becomes confusing and unattractive.

Some professions naturally require the use of technical terms but there's no reason to turn the whole job description into a Russell Brand tribute. Candidates are able to read between the lines of elaborate language and will probably be put off by a company who feel the need for a thesaurus to make themselves more interesting. Ultimately, simplicity creates clarity and increases the chance of receiving responses from talented humans (not robots).

Include salary information

Rightly or wrongly, money can prove to be the biggest motivator for candidates who will often scroll through job postings until they stumble across some digits that would make applying worthwhile. It's surprising therefore, that so many companies decide to omit this seemingly vital piece of information at the risk of deterring serious applicants that may use the salary range as way of judging the level of the role.

Though this may be more of a problem for senior level vacancies, leaving out salary information can make a company appear suspicious and is thought to result in a 30% drop in response. Whether it's to strengthen their bargaining power or it just slips the mind, employers that exclude pay from their job postings are reducing the number of applications they receive and losing out on seriously top talent.

A job description is often the first opportunity for a company to sell themselves to potential candidates and so it's important to get it right. If you're finding it difficult to attract the right applicants (or just good ones) then perhaps it's time to make the most of the rejuvenating effects of spring and tidy up your job description.

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