Is Your Job Description Too Detailed?

Posted by McKaela Baldus on 8/3/20 9:30 AM
McKaela Baldus
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You could be missing out on receiving exceptional applicants.

Project Manager Jobs in Newspaper. Job Search Concept.

We see this often: You've posted an open position at your organization, but you feel as if you haven't been attracting the right candidates to apply. Maybe you've posted the position on sites that don't get the right kind of traffic. Maybe you're having trouble attracting traffic to your own company career page. Have you taken a second look at the job description itself?

As recruiters, we always work closely with hiring managers and human resources professionals to best understand the company culture, position, and ideal candidate profile for a role we partnering on to fill. Often times, we are are able to provide some consultation on the actual write-up of the job description to optimize the post for the right audience.


List The Must-Haves, and Limit The Nice-To-Haves

One mistake we see frequently is lengthy job descriptions that list many nice-to-haves in the job duty and qualification sections, going far beyond the absolute must haves. 

When drafting your job description, we recommend opening with a few words that highlight your workplace culture, and then listing only the skills, and qualifications that truly are required for the role. You may be deterring the perfect candidate because they felt they were under-qualified.


What Do You Mean They Didn't Apply?!

You’ve probably heard the following statistic: Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them. 

This finding originated from a Hewlett Packard report, and has since been quoted in dozens of articles. It's usually presented so as to support the position that women should have more confidence when applying to new opportunities. However, I'd like to offer another point of view.

For better or worse, there is evidence that there are very different behaviors in men than in women when it comes to submitting a resume in application for a job opening. If your company is committed to attracting the very best candidates, interviewing the very best applicants, and evening out gender gaps in the workplace, this finding gives you insight on how to improve your job descriptions to attract candidates regardless of gender: Don't bog the requirements down with a long list of skills that are nice-to-haves but are not deal breakers or hard-stops during the hiring process. 

I'd like to share some interesting results from a survey conducted by Tara Sophia Mohr at Over a thousand professionals were asked why they didn't apply for a position. Here were their responses:

Why didnt apply for job image


What Should Be Included In a Job Description?

Writing a job description is a careful balance of including the necessary information to attract the right talent, and not over stuffing it with "requirements" that aren't really requirements. So how do you choose which skills to call out? One thing is to consider how your job will be found by not only active job seekers, but passive candidates as well.


LinkedIn Job Postings

Does your company post job openings on social platforms, specifically LinkedIn? If so, let's take a minute to consider how LinkedIn and platforms like it choose which users to present job posts to.

The LinkedIn algorithm does its best to scan your job posting, understand the words written in the job description and requirement bullet points, then show the post to what it believes are the most qualified applicants next time they log into LinkedIn. It does this by matching keywords in your job post to keywords in people profiles. Ever wonder why you have never been presented with an organically promoted job post for an Ice Cream Taste Tester? Probably because you self-identified in your profile as a Financial Analyst and have the letters CPA after your name. Well, that explains it!

Our tip: Do a little research to find your ideal candidate on LinkedIn. Study their profile. Do they self-identify as a "civil engineer?" If your job post is for a Project Engineer, try to find a natural place within the job description to call out civil engineering.

A Shorter Job Description Can Increase Your Hiring Speed

In this video, Zac Kallas and I discuss how a short job description that prompts hiring for soft skills can actually speed up the hiring process and increase your chances of finding the perfect candidate quickly.

ZK short 1 - Coffee Break With McKaela - HD 720p


If you're having trouble attracting the right candidates, get in touch with a SkyWater recruiter. We can save you time and headaches by doing what we do best: presenting you with your Short List.

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