Get Emotional in Your Job Descriptions

May 14, 2011

We are constantly amazed by how much money recruiters spend on job postings, Google ads and attending job fairs, but never spend the time to develop compelling job descriptions.  It seems many recruiters believe that slapping their mission statement on top and adding job requirements and responsibilities below is all that is needed. This is a recipe for resume overload from a bunch of candidates who may have the hard requirements for the position, but are not necessarily a good fit with the culture, work environment and most importantly the everyday work experience of the position.

Job Descriptions should be emotionally charged documents that talk to the right candidates in a very personal, and compelling way. The right candidates should feel like “this is exactly where I belong” and be excited to pursue the opportunity. Conversely, a good job description should also  turn-off candidates who are not likely to thrive in the position and your school in general. So, how do you write a job description that connects with the right candidates and discourages others from applying?

  1. Spend some time with your school leader or the hiring manager really exploring the type of person who is likely to do well in the position. What are their beliefs? What are their career goals? What are their interests outside of school/work? What kind of work/life balance do they desire? How do they feel about the type of students who attend your school? In essence, you want to try to “get inside the head” of the ideal candidate for the position.
  2. Don’t use generic job descriptions and just fill in the specific requirements and duties for individual openings. Instead, write a specific job description from scratch for each position. If possible, enlist the help of other members of your team who have been highly successful in the position (or a similar position) at your school. Spend some time talking to some of your most successful team-members and find out what motivates them and use language that speaks to them.
  3. Be brutally honest about time-commitment, work conditions, and any challenges that await the candidate should he or she be hired. I see so many job descriptions that describe a work fantasy world that is in reality nothing like the real conditions within the school. If they would not have applied for the job knowing the truth, they will run for the exits before the end of the first semester when they learn the truth.
  4. Don’t waste space including your school’s mission statement and other warm fuzzy language about the goals of your school. You are basically providing candidates with a short-cut to regurgitating this information in a cover-letter and interview. Make them do the hard work of researching your school and learning this information on their own. Instead, be sure that your description of the work-experience is infused and connected with your school’s mission and goals.  If you’ve done a good job with the description of the job, candidates will see the connection when they do their research before applying and be inspired even more.

In this age of countless Internet job boards, web ads and social media, candidates have access at their fingertips to thousands and thousands of job descriptions. To stand out from the crowd and attract the best candidates for your school organization, it is imperative that your job descriptions emotionally connect with the “right” candidates and discourage those that are a poor fit from applying in the first place. We hope that you find the suggestions above helpful.

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