Answer: The job description can be a persuasive tool to develop interest in exploring a new opportunity. It can also be an effective tool for evaluating candidates.
However, most descriptions are written by HR staffs that are internally focused and lack the ability and perspective to write for an external audience. Too often, the hiring manager makes a token effort to edit a description and then approves it for external distribution. S/he knows it is not even close to what the job is and what is most important to him/her.
Instead, sufficient thought should be given about preparing a compelling and persuasive job description for external distribution. Writing a realistic and accurate job description should be part of every search and is especially useful if the position is newly created or if it is being redefined. Candidates often discount job descriptions altogether because they are full of jargon and phrases that have no context since outsiders do not know the organization.
A job description for external audiences should assume the reader has an incomplete knowledge about the company and should include a description about the vision, mission and key challenges the organization is addressing. If there are issues such as a major rebuilding initiative, that have been discussed publicly, assume that must be acknowledged and the company’s perspective explained. There are so few descriptions that address substantive issues candidly, that the job description will stand out. It signals this is a company that sets realistic expectations of what can be accomplished through its communications efforts.
The hiring manager should answer the question, “What are the top 3 experiences and skills sets that are critical in the role?” A well-crafted description is also an excellent tool for a sophisticated recruiter to use in probing for strategic problem solving and evaluating candidate achievements as they relate to the specifics in the description.
Assuming the description is accurate, when candidates are presented for consideration, it is expected they are screened and considered fully qualified by HR. Based on current practices, that is frequently not the case and the interviewing process continues for weeks longer than it should. The hiring manager should provide detailed feedback to HR about its evaluation of candidates and determine if the recruiters can absorb the information and upgrade their performance. If the HR team can improve the quality of its referrals, that leads to greater efficiencies. If not, then the hiring manager can quickly look to outside experts to present finalists and cut short the screening process.