5 Tips For Better Sourcing Via Improved Job Descriptions

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Jul 18, 2016
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Writing great job descriptions and advertisements that actually deliver the type of applicants you are targeting is a very overlooked aspect in sourcing. All employers of all types are shortchanging themselves by not fully taking advantage of the opportunity afforded to them when they are posting their job openings.

Today I wish to provide five general suggestions sourcers can use to adjust their general approach to writing job descriptions to improve both sourcing and hiring results. Additionally, I will provide specific actions you can take along with these five suggested philosophic changes to your job openings, descriptions, and advertisements. I hope the SourceCon community finds these tips helpful in your sourcing efforts.


1.  Job Descriptions Are Dull. Job Achievement & Career Advancement Descriptions Are Awesome

The first step to improving your hiring results by having better job descriptions is by not thinking of them as job descriptions in the first place. A job opening and the resulting job advertisement is your opportunity to sell your employer brand to an expanded audience and to offer career advancement to prospective top talent in the marketplace. The candidates you want to interview and, ultimately, to hire will not make a change simply to make a change. You will need to sell top job seekers on how your company and your job opening provide them an exclusive opportunity to advance their careers.

Therefore, instead of writing a description of the job, a much more dynamic approach can be to describe what you desire for the hired person to achieve on the job. I call these type of job advertisements as “job achievement descriptions.”

There are alternative and more efficient ways to achieve your “job description” goals. This brings us to tip #2.


2.  Use Descriptive Job Titles Rather Than A Typical Formal Vague & Generic Title

The place to describe your job is in the most valuable real estate in your advertisement – the subject heading and, if possible, in the URL itself as it is extremely SEO (search engine optimization) friendly to do so. Most employers’ job advertisements use the formal job title as the default subject heading for their job descriptions. Most formal job titles are generic, vague, and not at all unique to the company, location or specific job opening being advertised.

Put yourself in your target job applicant’s shoes. Are your candidates looking for “controller jobs” or are they seeking more specific jobs such as “Chicago CPG industry controller jobs?” Just as a good descriptive email subject heading can improve the odds that the recipient opens your email, a good descriptive job title can also make sure the right people find your online job posting and that they can understand 90% of the essential details of job you are advertising, and hopefully that they will click on your link for more details. An overlooked benefit of descriptive job titles is that the viewer can refer someone they know to your link who seems to be a good fit for your job opening; even if she is not interested herself and even without reading the full details of your job advertisement.


3.  Remember To Sell Your Company, The Hiring Manager, & The Department; Not Just The Job

Another popular element to job advertisements that sourcers overlook is the importance of selling the company, the hiring manager, the department, and specific office the hired person will be joining. Remember, as mentioned above in tip #1, the top talent you are targeting are interested in career advancement not just a change in jobs. There are several benefits to taking this approach to your job advertisements. The top three benefits are:

1) It delivers truth in advertising to your target audience.

2) It helps you reinforce your employer brand, if it is good, or even overcome your overall employer brand if it is poor.

3) It differentiates you as an employer from your competitors with similar job openings.


4.  Target For Skills & Potential Not Experience. Solid Skills & Potential Beats Years Of Experience Applying Poor Skills Every Time

Remember, as an employer, you are hiring a person, not a resume. Just as employers often struggle to properly sell their jobs in their job descriptions, job seekers are not professional resume writers and their resume may not tell the whole story of their potential to deliver the results you are expecting.

In tip #1 above I mentioned that you want a “job achievement description.” Similarly, recruiters and career counselors advise their candidates that their resumes should list their job achievements, not their job responsibilities. Your focus as an employer should be enticing the best people capable of delivering the best results. Often times, the people you want are the ones with the most skills and potential, not necessarily the ones with the most experience.

One of the top ways employers inhibit their ability to attract and hire top talent is by needlessly, artificially and prematurely restricting the candidate pool rather than expanding it by a list a minimum number of years experience required to be considered for the job opening. The primary reason, I advise this during the job advertising, interviewing, and hiring stages are that, ultimately, you hire someone for what they can do can for your company in the future, not what they have done for someone else in the past. To that end, it can be helpful to make sure to present in your job advertisements the precise skills you are seeking that will enable them to achieve the desired results you have described.


5.  Focus On Benefits Of Joining Your Company Not Features Of Joining Your Company

Most sourcers do not like to think of themselves as salespeople. Sales may even be a dirty word to a majority of them. However, that does not alter the reality that recruiters are in the business of selling career advancement and opportunities. Notice I did not say selling jobs. I did so for a very specific reason; job openings presented by recruiters are the advertisement, not the product. For those sourcers who have not received formal sales training, there is common teaching to sales professionals of making sure to focus on the benefits of your product/service not the features of your product/service.

In order to sell your prospective applicants on your job opening, a great first step in the hiring process is the focus in the job advertisement more on the benefits of joining your company, not the features of the job opening. Free parking is a feature of your job whereas access to cutting edge technology and/or ample promotion opportunities are benefits to prospective hires’ careers. Can you see the difference? Top talent does not wish to join your company because you offer free parking. Would you really want to hire someone who did?

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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