Boring job descriptions scare away top performers

  • Post published:02/11/2009
  • Reading time:3 mins read

Advice to employers using job descriptions

I am often asked, “What is the easiest way to get the attention of top candidates?” The answer is really simpler than you may expect. Continue reading and I will tell you what you need to do to attract the best talent before your competitor does! Â

Top performers are as curious as everyone else when looking at a new job opportunity. They are not like unemployed people or those who are less concerned about what they work with, you know those that see whatever job is “better”.

If the top performers do not see any indication that the job is superior to – or better – than the job they already have, you lost it.Â

Let me ask if you agree on these statements:Â

  • Top performers already have pretty good jobs.
  • Real talented people will only consider a job that is clearly better than their current job.
  • Once they fail to see that your position is much better than their current, they stop reading or talking to you.
  • Once you have lost them it is not likely they will look at future jobs from your company. Worst case, they might even tell others how boring and outdated your profiles are.

Now why is it that most job descriptions are pretty boring? Is it because most position descriptions are written by people with little knowledge or interest in the particular job? I am not sure but most job profiles I see focus on skills and knowledge. That is a lot about what you “must have” and very little about what you “must do”.Â

You see, recruiting is also marketing. If you want to hire top people, your jobs must stand out from the crowd, they must offer a compelling value proposition, and they must be designed to draw people in, not weed them out. If you’re doing what everyone else is doing, you don’t stand a chance of hiring the top 10% to 15%. So the key is to be different. I guess the real point here is that great sourcing starts with great preparation.Â

Keep in mind that headhunters specialise in finding highly-qualified, difficult-to-secure people, to put in front of client companies. While we have the capacity of finding these people, it’s going to be up to the client to attract them to their company. To close the deal so to speak. The candidates are accomplishers, almost always currently employed with good futures where they are.Â

Candidates will ask themselves if this is just another job or a better job. If the job profile focuses on skills, experience, academics and industry requirements, then these are not even jobs at all: they are people descriptions. It is not designed to appeal to any type of senior candidate.

A “better job” job description describes a better job. This includes the challenges involved on the job, some of the big projects the person will likely work on, how these will impact the organization, what the person will learn, and how the person will grow. Bottom line: you need to describe the benefits to the person considering the job as an inducement to apply.

Tom Sorensen

Tom Sorensen is an executive search veteran with over 25 years of experience recruiting in Asia, Europe, and Africa. He has worked in executive search in Thailand since 2003 and is recognized as one of the country’s top recruiters and most profiled headhunters.