For HR professionals who are recruiting for a new position or looking to fill an existing opening, you will inevitably be confronted with the task of writing a job description—the first impression a prospective employee gets for both the position and the company.
Compliant Job Descriptions
It is important as you draft each job description that the posting is in full compliance with federal regulations such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963 or the Fair Labor Standards Act. To ensure the job description is fully compliant, employers needs to write descriptions as directed by a number of legal standards.
For example, the FLSA stipulates that employers will need to analyze the proper classification for the position they are recruiting for to determine if it is exempt from overtime pay. Compliance can sometimes be a complex issue. Descriptions with vague wording or gray areas may end up being violations of federal laws such as the Equal Pay Act or the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. A good job description may not eliminate all of these discrepancies or involuntary omissions, but the goal is to minimize them as much as possible.
As part of your human resources solution, it may be easy to get distracted by legal compliance issues and forget about the tonality of the job description. It’s important that a balance is struck so that compliance is achieved and the description also falls within the cultural life of the brand and the company. A dry, off-message job description might be fully compliant but lacks the versatility and life that inspires and attracts top talent.
The Black Hole for Job Seekers
According to a recent study conducted by TheLadders, job seekers spend less than 60 seconds reviewing a job posting before deciding to apply or move on—a figure that HR professionals ought to pay attention to when drafting job descriptions.
The online job-matching service conducted the survey in March of 2013 employing eye-tracking technology to determine not only what information job seekers prioritized as they perused potential job listings but how they read them.
“Job seekers and hiring managers alike share a problem with job listings—job seekers apply for jobs they don’t fit, leaving hiring managers with applications that don’t fit the bill,” said Alex Douzet, CEO and cofounder of TheLadders. “There is so much finger-pointing in the job search, mostly by job seekers who think that overwhelmed recruiters and faulty application software are the factors behind them never hearing back. However, our eye-tracking study shows that job seekers simply need to take a better look in the mirror—and better understand their competition—before they even think of applying to that next job.”
The survey revealed that even though job seekers self-report spending ten minutes assessing each opportunity, only 10 percent of that time is spent evaluating the job description. Of that percentage, the most time was spent focusing on the title of the position, the company name, and the details of the job, such as salary and recruiter contact information.
As an HR professional, that’s important information. Go into the job description drafting process knowing what job information is a priority for a job seeker. You have 60 seconds to make an impression. Make it count.
Writing a job description can be a tricky thing, navigating both the legal world and that of the prospective employee. The key is in striking a balance between legality and language that is as inviting as it is clear.
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