How Unrealistic Job Descriptions Build a Phantom Workforce

by: Fernando Ramirez

Phantom of the Opera Mask in Dark TunnelWhy are organizations and candidates having such a difficult time trying to find the right fit during the hiring process? Does it have to do with how candidates are interviewed? Or does it begin the moment organizations publish their job postings? Perhaps organizations and candidates are just not seeing eye-to-eye when it comes to credentials. Apparently, only 17 percent of job seekers have the skills and traits that hiring managers seek. And 58 percent of job seekers believe they should rely on their own job experience during their job search. This disparity presents a difficult challenge when it comes to finding talent. If job descriptions are written with the intentions of hiring qualified talent then why are there such high employee turnover rates? The goal is to build highly creative and collaborative cultures, not phantom workforces.

The idea is to attract and bring in qualified candidates into an organization. Job descriptions should match organizational needs, not create a disparity with employees of what their expectations were. Let’s take a look at these three techniques for rejuvenating job descriptions.

1. To Keep Job Descriptions Realistic: Be Specific

Kate Matsudaira, former CTO and founder of Popforms, believes that for every one job description candidates read, they read and encounter 10 awful ones. Communicating organizational needs instead of desires in job descriptions can be difficult. According to research, 40 percent of employees believe job expectations are unrealistic. Perhaps because job descriptions do not accurately specify the expectations and responsibilities that will be placed on new hires. Ultimately, 43 percent of employees leave because of heavy workloads and 20 percent leave because of not being the right fit for the job. Keep job descriptions specific and accurate to give candidates the best possible understanding of what their daily responsibilities will be.

2. To Keep Job Descriptions Realistic: Be Honest

There needs to be written truth in what you’re saying throughout your entire job description. Remember, disengaged employees and employee turnover are very real. Candidates shouldn’t be reading job descriptions that make them instantly cringe because of the context involved. According to a study by Robert Half, 36 percent of 1,400 executives surveyed claimed that the leading factor behind a failed hire is because of poor skills matching. The second leading factor behind failed hires is because of unclear performance objectives at 30 percent. Writing transparent job descriptions may not eliminate failed hiring, but it can help set the tone for realistic job expectations that employers are failing to communicate.

3. To Keep Job Descriptions Realistic: Be Fun

According to Kate Matsudaira, “Sharing details lets candidates begin to know your company, which makes them care about working for you.” There is great, but simple logic behind Kate’s statement. The more candidates know about an organization, the more intrigue they will develop, and the more invested they will start to become. Job descriptions give employers a chance to display effective employer branding. As Kate mentioned in her article, “Every time you write a posting, imagine you are the candidate reading it.” Don’t forget to mention to candidates how fun your workplace culture is, if it is at all. Be creative during this process and don’t be afraid to use a little humor as shown in some of these great job description examples. Remember to create a sense of what your organization entails.

The Ideal Job Description

The ideal job description should be written by someone or a group of people that understand what they truly need versus want from a new employee. Some would probably argue that job descriptions shouldn’t welcome every applicant in the door, but Walt Disney once said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” When job descriptions are not specific, honest, and fun, then they start to narrow down the possibility of finding candidates that excel at displaying passion, creativity, and excitement for learning. Job descriptions have to give candidates a brief and quick glimpse of what your organization is and what it’s about. So be transparent with candidates. After all, the point is to build an awesome workforce, not a phantom one.

About the Author

Fernando RamirezFernando Ramirez is a social media and content strategist for TalentCulture. He’s built social media strategies for Fortune 500 companies and talent communities in the HR and Recruiting Technology space. Fernando is a passionate blogger and fantasy football strategist. He is based in Boston.

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