Job descriptions are fundamentally broken. 72 percent of hiring managers say they provide clear job descriptions, yet 36 percent of candidates say they’re provided with them. Faced with generic or dull lists of required skills, candidates often click off careers pages with no desire to ever return again. As companies paint ambiguous pictures of their open roles, they’re losing candidates before they even enter the interview process.
When you take the time to revitalize your job descriptions, candidates notice. Here are real quotes from Lever's applicants:
"This job description gave me a strong sense of the vision for the position and the growth in responsibilties I can expect, and I'm very excited to apply."
"What caught my attention right away was how well thought out this posting is, how it provides a big-picture view yet is so detailed. It shows me the quality of work Lever is intent on delivering and it speaks volumes to me."
"This job decription is unlike anything I've seen, the detailed milestone timeline makes it clear there's an emphasis on expectations for success which I highly value. Every company should write job descriptions like this."
In our recent webinar, Lever's Head of Employee Experience and Development Jennifer Kim told us why it’s time to throw job descriptions away and replace them with a tool that engages top candidates: impact descriptions. Tell candidates what they will own, learn, and teach in your role, and you'll motivate them to invest in your interview process. We recapped five of Jen’s tips on how to craft impact descriptions below, but you'll find many more in our webinar recording.
1) Shift your overall thought process
First, internalize this mantra: “When you invest more in the beginning of your process, you get better hires, faster.” As a recruiter, your time is consumed by various tasks at once. Remember, though, that several companies are likely fighting for the attention for your candidate.
The key to standing out in the crowd? Talk to your dream candidate in your job description. If they were looking at your careers page, would their interest be piqued? According to Jen, you should shift your thought process from ‘How can I write this job description as quickly as possible and attract the largest number of applicants?’ to ‘How can my hiring manager and I invest in an impact description that will appeal to the best applicants’?.
2) Get your hiring manager on board
In too many hiring manager-recruiter relationships, the recruiter and hiring manager are misaligned in terms of what exactly their ideal candidate looks like. Too often, Jen has seen the recruiter take the lead on writing the entire job description. In reality, the hiring manager is most knowledgeable about the role’s nuances. To make your hiring manager your partner, arrange a meeting with them early on to establish expectations.
Nervous about how to conduct your first meeting with a new hiring manager? Jen suggests you pick the hiring manager you have the most collaborative partnership with and invite them to experiment with you.
3) Match and showcase motivators
During her time in recruiting, Jen connected with candidates driven by a wide variety of motivators. Many candidates seek professional growth, some prioritize a recognizable brand name to work for, and others crave stability in their next role.
Which candidate motivators does your company consistently meet? Convey those details in your job description. Lever, for example, finds most alignment in candidates who are growth-oriented and looking for a positive culture. “Therefore, we make sure our impact descriptions emphasize that,” says Jen.
4) Understand the role and ideal candidate
Once you’ve fully grasped your dream candidate’s qualifications, build on your recruiter-hiring manager partnership. “Be a sponge while your hiring manager talks to you about the nuances of the role,” advises Jen. “Ask your hiring manager questions like: Who are the top performers on your team? Can you describe their qualities? What will this person be the primary owner of?”.
Take copious notes so that you know exactly what to prioritize as you write your impact description. “Hiring managers have a classic problem of wanting everything,” Jen has learned from experience. When you meet with your hiring manager, continuously ask follow-up questions for clarity.
5) Draft your bullets and timeline
Confident that you've nailed down the nuances of the role? Time to sit down and write a draft so you can start collaborating with your hiring manager. "In our impact descriptions here at Lever, there are two main parts: the bullet points and the timeline," says Jen. "First, the bullet points spell out what our the candidate is expected to own, teach, learn and improve once they're on the job." As you write this section, answer the following questions in detail: What should the person already know? What can they learn on the job? What results will they be held accountable for? What does success in this role look like?
Secondly, the timeline section is an onboarding plan that outlines what the person is expected to accomplish within 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months at Lever. It not only gives the hiring manager a head start on preparing for an incoming employee, but candidates are excited to see a thought-out plan, and appreciate that they will be set up for success as an employee. The timeline section answers questions such as: How will their career progress throughout the year? What will they begin and then continue to own?. Understand what your candidate will be responsible for and when those responsibilities will kick in, and you'll be well on your way to a meaningful impact description.
Would it help to see an impact description that Jen wrote before you draft your own bullet points and timeline? In our webinar, she walked us through an example.
Jen was one of the early advocates of the impact descriptions at Lever, and we were excited to learn they were central to winning great hires as a small startup in a competitive talent market, and that companies are starting to adapt them! We hope her advice inspires you to create impact descriptions of your own.
Looking for even more examples of powerful impact descriptions? We have quite a few to show you.