Stop the Ever-Expanding Job Description from Hurting Your Company

Job descriptions are lengthier than ever, and today it’s not uncommon for an employer to list 10 or more bullet points in the requirements section of a job posting. Although most small businesses would love to get the most out of a single employee, pushing them to the max will hurt both your team and your company in the long run.

Here are some of the main reasons why the ever-expanding job description is hurting your company and your candidates.

How lengthy job listings sabotage the hiring process

First, lengthy job descriptions might make qualified candidates drop out of your hiring pool. Applicants might assume they’ll be stretched too thin and will prefer to apply for positions where their expertise is aligned with a more confined role within a company.

Potential applicants also might second guess their ability to succeed in a position if they’re missing one or more of the job functions in the requirements section of the posting. If they are a strong fit for a majority of the role’s requirements but fall short in some of the other “essential” functions, a great candidate might opt out of applying altogether.

Many people won’t apply for a job unless they meet 100% of the qualifications. That means creating an overly-long job description puts you at risk of missing out on a big portion of potential job seekers.

Even if you do find an employee who ticks all or most of the boxes you’re looking for, squeezing them for all they’re worth will eventually lead to burnout. In the post-pandemic world, employees are less tolerant of overwork, and if you expect too much from one person, you risk higher turnover, a poor work environment and a damaged company reputation.

Long job descriptions are counterproductive for the overall productivity of your company in the long run. Here are several ways to write job descriptions that will attract the right candidates and help your company thrive.

1. Be specific when you write a job description

When creating a job description, be specific about the duties and responsibilities of the position and keep your requirements list to a minimum.

Think about what you actually need in a new employee before writing your job description, and be concise about the position’s responsibilities. You will optimize your hiring pool by taking the time to think through exactly what is required of the role and writing these expectations as clearly and concisely as possible.

Avoid using vague or generic terms that lead to misinterpretation, and try not to use jargon or acronyms. This will help busy applicants immediately understand what it is you’re looking for so they can decide accordingly if they’re a good fit for the job.

2. Be realistic with essential functions in the role description

Make sure the job title and requirements section of your posting accurately reflects the level of responsibility and expertise required for the role you’re looking to fill. Consult with your existing employees to see what skills are actually needed on a day-to-day basis, and ask how a new hire can make them more effective at their job.

Review and revise job descriptions each time you hire a new employee to ensure they reflect the actual needs of your company at that given point in time.

3. Hire more ideal candidates

When one employee moves on, it’s common these days to pile their previous responsibilities onto existing employees. This is tempting because it avoids the hassle of going through the time-consuming process of hiring and saves you time training a new employee. You can also probably get away with paying less than you otherwise would have if you had hired someone to fill the role.

Although it’s tempting, be diligent about hiring a new employee every time one of the team members leaves. If you make it a habit of spreading previous positions’ responsibilities across your team, burnout is very possible. If you do promote existing employees to higher positions when appropriate, make sure to hire someone to take their place.

Hiring specific roles for each responsibility may lighten everyone’s load. It should help cultivate a more healthy work environment and give everyone the space to do their job efficiently. As soon as you expand the role of one position too far, you will lose more than you gain.

4. Give employees time in their new role

Again, hiring and training new employees takes time, but it is important to give them the space and support they need to adjust to the new role. Patience with new team members pays off in the long run because they’ll be more confident and efficient at their work if you give them time to settle into their roles.

Use each new hire as a reset. Evaluate which responsibilities your previous employee took on, and consider if that is something your new hire should really be responsible for. Rehiring is an opportunity to restructure, so make sure to make the most of this chance to reorganize and refine the job duties at your business.

5. Create a supportive workplace environment

An environment where people are overworked isn’t good for anyone, as well as your company’s bottom line. If you stretch your employees too thin, eventually it will cause burnout, unhappiness and higher turnover.

It is essential to create a supportive environment so that workers feel comfortable asking for help when they need it. This might involve hiring more staff so that everyone in your workplace can live a more balanced life and in turn perform their duties better. The goal is to prevent folks from feeling they need to do more by themselves and ensure that if they have too much on their plate, someone else is available to support them.

6. Keep job requirements to a minimum

If you want an effective job description, aim to keep each section of the posting between 6–10 bullet points. Research shows that keeping the bullet points in your job posting within this range will maximize the number of qualified candidates who apply.

If you absolutely must list more than 10 skills, keep them outside of the requirements section of the posting. Instead, add a section like “desired characteristics” or “added bonuses.” That way the right talent won’t be scared off by the number of responsibilities and requirements, and know that these are qualities that are beneficial but not necessary. Structuring a job description like this will empower applicants if they do have some of the added bonuses, but not detract them from applying if they do not.

Stop the expansion trend

Don’t follow the recent trend of expanding your job descriptions, because it’ll make your life as a small business owner more difficult in the long run. Think critically about the skills you need in a new hire, and write concisely about what kind of applicants would make the best fit. Use the hiring opportunity to structure your workforce more efficiently and logically, and make the most of this unique opportunity to create a human-centered company that benefits everyone.

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