• HR Intelligence

Rethinking Job Descriptions


Over the last 20 years, the UK workplace has changed out of all recognition, and yet many HR departments continue to try and attract skilled staff using the same old parameters. As our world of workplace activities evolve, is it time to rethink job descriptions? How can we improve the balance of how we spend our time in a role, with what we need people to do? In many larger businesses, when it comes to advertising new appointments, many HR departments dust off the old templates, fill in the relevant and get the position on the job boards. But in today’s gig economy, is this really going to attract the skilled people we need? Certainly, as a big brand operator, applications will no doubt flood in based on brand alone, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we are attracting the best for the available position. For SMEs, without the luxury of big budgets and lucrative salary packages, rethinking job descriptions to attract today’s high performing millennials is even more important.


Nowadays, young prospective employees expect more clarity. They want to know what the company is all about, its mission statement, its activities and culture, and where it wants to go with new projects. Is it a forward-looking, empathetic company? What are its green credentials? They want to choose whether they need you, as much as you need them, and often, salary won’t be the main driving force.

For too many years, large businesses have looked at the job market as just that - a market. With no consideration of what the job applicants might want from the company, the job template will go something like:

  • Position

  • Short job description

  • Qualifications

  • Responsibilities

Many would consider this a tried and tested formula, and certainly, it will attract a number of job applications, in fact in the current situation, probably a surfeit of job applications. The downside to this is, much of your time will then be taken up wading through the applications to provide a shortlist of suitable candidates. So how do you go about revamping the job description template?

Should you change the job title


Does the job title need extra clarity? Trying to change it to some trendy new position no-one has heard of, is probably not the best idea. However, if there are a number of similar job title options, a Moz or Google keyword search should throw up the most popular monthly search term for the position.

Add a concise job description summary

Should you re-evaluate the job description? If the position is temporary, say six months to complete a one-off project, be honest, and say so. There are many out there happy to take on the position for the additional experience, and another line on their CV. Is the position in question permanent, but one that has seen two, three, or four new personnel start and leave over the last 12 months? Have you considered why? An honest opinion of what you believe to be not working, and the fact you are looking for somebody capable of fixing it, will often produce candidates looking not just for a job, but a challenge. A feeling they are being offered an opportunity to make a bigger contribution to the business.

An honest job description means candidates know exactly what they are applying for. If they want full-time employment, most won’t apply for a six-month position. If they just want to be a cog in the wheel, they won’t apply for anything that requires self-initiative or additional responsibilities. Although this means fewer applicants, it also means those who do apply will be more suited for the position, and you have to spend less time sifting through CVs.

Include company aspirations for the position

For today’s young workforce, one of the biggest turn-offs is boredom, and often the reason employee turnover begins increasing. If the company is a new start-up with high aspirations say so. If you have hopes of the position expanding, with the successful candidate increasing their personal skillset and job responsibilities, say so. To attract the very best of applicants, emphasise the benefits they will receive from the company. Don’t offer the world then fail to deliver, but mention your hopes and ambitions. For instance, the fact you are a start-up is a company feature, but the fact you see the successful applicant’s position growing within the company, is a benefit for the candidate.

If you’re wondering why you seem so often to have to make do with second best in the jobs market, have a close look at you job description template, and consider turning it into an impact making tool which will attract high quality applicants hoping to work with you – rather than for you.


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