Job Descriptions Don’t Produce the Best Candidates. Here’s Why.

October 15th, 2014

Most job descriptions are produced by human resources department and have little to do with identifying and attracting high-caliber, top-performing candidates. Although job descriptions are posted on websites and expected to motivate and attract these prospects, content doesn’t match the intent. Normally a common job description defines the following:

  • Scope of the role
  • Skills required (4 years of X, 5 years of Y)
  • Technologies required (4 years of X, 5 years of Y)
  • Education required

Job descriptions are a natural de-motivator as they are derived from the employers viewpoint, providing nothing to intrigue the candidate. They only furnish information about what the candidate “must have”, and provides no information of interest to the candidate. It also limits the candidate’s motivation to pursue the opportunity, as it creates a profile of the ideal candidate – one who doesn’t exist.

Why would a top-performer respond to a posting they aren’t qualified for? Only hungry candidates hoping to get a sniff at an opportunity apply, leaving the high-caliber, passive candidate excelling in their current positions and ignoring the un-interesting information presented in the job description. And from the company standpoint, no matter how extensive the screening process, no single candidate will ever measure up. Each interviewer has to make it up on their own, it’s just not a good barometer for judging who fits the role.

What is the Alternative to a Job Description?

Develop a Candidate Profile. Identify the necessary information to market the position (to the desired candidates), provide education for interviewers about job content/ requirements, and determine the ideal candidate experience necessary to excel in the role.

  • What is the purpose of the position?
  • Define the scope of responsibility.
  • What needs to be accomplished in the first twelve to eighteen months?
  • Uncover the challenges and hurdles looming in the future.
  • Determine critical competency/competencies necessary.
  • Spell out the definition of success.

Human nature promotes an inclination to look for candidates who have already accomplished everything they will be expected to do in the role. But that is misguided. The upper twenty percent candidates – the talent acquisition targets ­– aren’t satisfied with what they have already done and are looking for new challenges. But they don’t want to stretch so far as to seem incompetent.

For best results, identify the competency necessary to excel in the role, i.e., not necessarily the skills or technical products utilized in position.  Top candidates are motivated by challenge, gaining new experience, and making an impact; not becoming a complacent employee doing the exact same thing in their new role as they did in their last.

At Honer and Associates, we know how to produce the best candidates for your search. Trust us to find talented, eager-to-learn professionals who will improve your organization from the first day on the job. Contact Honer and Associates today.

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