Bad Job Listings Filter Out Qualified Candidates

Building Indiana Business

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If your company is having trouble getting qualified job candidates in the door, there could be a very big filter that you’re overlooking. For external hires, one of the first things they encounter is your posted job listings. Here, many companies make critical mistakes that can turn people away. If your listings are over-descriptive or hyper-nuanced, people are going to assume they won’t qualify, and they’ll move on. Start fixing this problem by fixing your job descriptions.

Not a Minor Problem

88% of surveyed employers say qualified candidates are vetted out because they do not match the exact criteria in the job description. (Source: Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine)

Avoid Too Many Ingredients

To make a food analogy, too many ingredients doesn’t necessarily make a gourmet dish. If your job listings are packed with attributes that you hope to find in a candidate, most people aren’t going to meet all those requirements.

Instead, do some critical thinking about what types of traits the job opening actually needs. Focus on core competencies necessary for the role and avoid unnecessary extras. For example, do “customer service skills” really need to be part of a roofing job offer? The job might entail dealing with customers from time to time, but those skills can be trained. Your company needs a roofer, not a customer service specialist. Focus on the primary capabilities that are needed and you’ll get more applicants.

Choose Your Words

It’s easy to make a routine task sound like something that it’s not. This has a tendency of turning a lot of good candidates away. Words pertaining to specific job tasks should be accurate and clear.

Say, for example, you’re seeking a salesperson. Part of their job might certainly involve data entry into your customer relationship management (CRM) software. That’s typical. But if you were to describe this activity as “data entry” or something like “computer programming” – as companies have actually done in the past – then a genuinely qualified salesperson might not be interested.

Be clear in your terms. Applicants for this kind of role likely expect they’ll have to do some recordkeeping or sales tracking activities, so describe them that way.

Avoid Implicit Bias

When writing anything, there are commonly points where a person’s biases seep through. There are two types, explicit and implicit. Most people are going to do a great job at not being explicitly bias. That would be things like racism and discrimination, which has no place in any company. The implicit bias, however, is harder to avoid because it tends to hide between the lines.

In job descriptions, this can be a real problem that costs companies great candidates. Inappropriately written listings may convey things about the “preferred” candidate. One of the most frequent ways this happens is with gender. Writers are influenced by perceptions of social roles, and that can become obvious to the reader.

For example, words like “strength” or “assertiveness” in a job description inform the reader that a company is probably looking for a male worker. “Empathy” or “intuitiveness” might suggest that a female worker is preferred.

There are countless other examples that can suggest a preferred age, race, and even socioeconomic status. Companies are advised to be informed and aware about implicit bias as they work to craft more neutral job listings.

Include Notes About Growth

Many companies forget to include details about professional growth opportunities in their job listings. These days, that’s a rather expensive mistake. Most job seekers are actively on the hunt for a place to develop their skills and reach a new level in their careers. If your company is not advertising and promoting your available opportunities, then people are going to look the other way.

Consider adding links to any of your professional development materials or social posts about events. You’ve got to sell your company to new candidates, and these materials are great talent attractors.

Write Better, Get Better

In the stiff competition for talent, every detail matters. If your company isn’t finding the right people for your open jobs, take a serious look at your job listings for problems. The way these are written could very well be to blame. By ensuring that your listings are free from bias and focused on the core nature of the job, qualified applicants will not be filtered out before they apply.

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Building Indiana Business magazine is the largest business-to-business publication in the state of Indiana. It contains all kinds of different business topics for professionals and decision-makers.

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