The official blog of Abacus Group — a place to share our knowledge and thoughts on trends in recruiting

February 23, 2012

Job Description Perfection: Get a Head Start on the Hiring Process

An informative Recruiting Blogs article by Bill Humbert calls attention to a common problem within the hiring process: poorly written job descriptions. A job description often serves as an introduction of an organization to a candidate and should therefore comprehensively and truthfully define the responsibilities of the given position. HR and hiring managers must accurately represent their jobs in order to attract the right candidates.

Given that inadequate job descriptions are sometimes a result of poor communication between HR and hiring managers, Humbert provides a list of fundamental questions that must be answered in order to thoroughly explain the position. The article specifically suggests that HR personnel obtain clear information about the duties, projects, planning and goals relevant to the role. Job responsibilities should be divided by frequency of performance, i.e., daily, weekly, quarterly and annually. Likewise, goals should be defined in terms of three-month, six-month, nine-month and yearly intervals. Assuming that this information is communicated to and understood by HR, the necessary skills and experience for the role may be easily determined. Once the job description is drafted, Humbert proposes that a final review with the hiring manager should take place prior to publishing the description on job boards. Following this comprehensive framework, an effective job description can be produced.

For Accounting, Finance, IT and Administrative positions, precise and complete job descriptions are especially critical. Since many roles within these fields require a great deal of technical knowledge and involve the completion of cyclical tasks, HR must be as clear as possible in expressing the duties and objectives of such positions. Unlike other professional fields that allow for more creative freedom, these professional areas entail more structured methodologies that must be explained in job descriptions. If HR and the hiring manager fail to produce accurate descriptions, several negative possibilities can result:

    1. An incorrect or insufficient job posting could attract a number of unqualified candidates, including those who apply independently or who are working with recruiters. This is a tremendous waste of time, especially when an organization’s progress depends on fulfilling key positions.

    2. A poorly written job description may deter qualified candidates from applying. It would be very unfortunate if a highly talented candidate is dissuaded from applying for a job because of inaccurate information in the job posting.

    3. HR and hiring managers’ inability to properly explain positions may lead to later difficulties in carrying out the objectives for new employees.

Bottom line: a candidate can only respond to a job posting based on the limited information that is provided in a job description. Likewise, a recruiter searches for candidates based on the same specifications for the role. In terms of job descriptions, candidates and recruiters are external participants; they only gauge the scope of the role based on the explanation provided. The role of HR and hiring managers to explicitly define positions is, therefore, imperative, as they alone have insight into the nature of the job. By providing complete and accurate job descriptions, they elicit the opportunity for both candidates and recruiters to react in ways that will be of maximum benefit to the organization.

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