Revamping Your Job Descriptions

Keep It Simple

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to consult and/or redevelop job descriptions for several organizations and I’ve discovered a lot of trending issues. Whether you are a Fortune 500 company with a fantastic reputation or a small company just trying to attract new talent, your job description can be the deciding factor of whether or not someone will complete an application. In a recent study by iCIMS, it was noted that 93% of candidates fall out during the application process at the job description step. Could your job description be causing you to lose applicants?

Revamping job descriptions can be a lengthy overhaul depending on how many resources you have or how many job descriptions you have available. However, if you’re looking for something simple, consider changing up the following:

  • Content: Sometimes I come across job descriptions that are so wordy, redundant or overdone that it completely turns me off from even reading it. I’m assuming that’s not a far cry from what candidates are experiencing. People’s attention spans are waning and unnecessarily long job descriptions filled with fluff words and irrelevant information is not going be well accepted. First thing you should do is simplify, cut redundancies or combine points to make it concise. Also, make sure the information makes sense for the audience and demographic. Don’t get too technical for non-technical jobs. Don’t incorporate VP-worthy language for entry-level positions.
  • What you can offer a candidate: Another thing I see in job descriptions is a focus about what the employer wants. They go over the responsibilities/duties. They discuss the requirements and qualifications. Some of the content even comes off as stern when mentioning the absolute must-haves of a candidate. But when all’s said and done, the candidate doesn’t get anything in return. A job description has to answer the candidates’ questions of, “What can this company offer me that another employer can’t?” With more employees having shorter tenure at an employer, an organization would do well if it didn’t assume the candidate needs it or its job. It has to be a balance of give and take and an employer should remember to include attractive information as to why they are an employer of choice.
  • Supplemental information: Job descriptions don’t give a full picture and this is where employer branding comes in. Adding relevant links in the posts, images or videos can allow candidates to investigate the job, department, project and/or company further. This can also create an opportunity to really hook the candidate and get them excited about going through the application process.
  • SEO and keywords: With many job boards and web crawlers out here, your job postings could get lost in the sea of other postings. To ensure you’re getting the most reach and coming up faster in searches, optimize keywords (both in the body and title) and SEO tactics. Coming up faster in the results means more opportunity for applications before the candidates get burnt out from reading job posting after job posting.
  • Company information: Along the lines of supplemental information, be sure to include company information so the candidate can get a better sense of who you are and what industry you’re in. A boiler plate can be sufficient. Taking it a step further, you could even incorporate your EVP.

It’s can be a challenge to gain the attention of candidates to the point that they even consider looking at your job site. But engaging and retaining their attention to the point of completing an application is another thing. Don’t miss your chance to yield applications from qualified candidates—keep it simple!

 

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Sometimes, Culture Fit Overrides Job Fit

As some of you know, company culture is one of my favorite topics to discuss. So, in light of a current situation, I felt that today’s blog post should discuss this. Recently, an individual was referred to me for some career and job seeking advice. Of course, I jumped all over this because I absolutely love helping people figure out what they truly want and how to be proactive about getting it. As I provided some advice to her, I recalled some important lessons I learned while job seeking myself.

This woman told me about some of the job roles she was interested in and how a couple of the companies she interviewed with seemed to have great opportunities involving this type of role but the company in itself left her feeling uninspired. She also happened to know a few people that previously worked at these companies and she was able to determine that the company culture didn’t really seem to match what she valued.

Of course, the fact that she mentioned personal values seemed to pique my interest and we hashed out these details. After learning what seemed to be important to her and what she really was passionate about, it was easy to see why these companies left her feeling uninspired. The companies had nothing to do with any of that. And after thinking about it, I recalled the time when I was aggressively looking for work. I was so set to get my career going in HR that I accepted jobs with companies that didn’t match my personal values. Or what’s worse, I found that their culture and ethics were awful. Needless to say, I was happy to land a role in HR but I was miserable, I learned nothing, and I really felt like I gained nothing from working there. Before I knew it, I was looking for work again because I desperately wanted to get out of that less than ideal situation.

As I considered these situations, I realized that sometimes finding a job in a company that has a culture that matches your values could be more important than struggling to get your foot in the door for a role you’re targeting. I wanted to be happy and I wanted to find a company that made me want to stay with them long term. I realized that perhaps starting in a position that wasn’t necessarily what I was targeting might be the way to go. I knew that if I was happy with the company, I wouldn’t mind taking a little extra time to work my way up to where I wanted to be, career-wise.

Sometimes it’s not enough to just be involved in the role you desire if the company in itself isn’t ideal for you. If you’re a job seeker, it’s important to research the culture to ensure you don’t end up in a bad situation that leaves you scrambling for a new job and company that is better suited for you. Unfortunately, changing jobs so quickly doesn’t look great to recruiters.. It looks better if you stick with a company longer-term and progressively move your way up.

Spend that extra time to do your research and really dig deep to make sure the company you’re accepting employment with is going to offer you more than just a job title and a couple skills in your field. You spend a good portion of your time at your job so finding an overall fit might be the better choice when it comes to finding a long and lasting career.

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Turning Around Poor Performance

As I’ve mentioned several times before, networking on LinkedIn and Twitter has allowed me to talk to some truly amazing and inspirational people. Today, as I was thinking back on these particular individuals, one stood out in my mind. Over the course of the last few months, he has written so many supportive and encouraging messages to me in regard to my professional competency and my writing. In addition to his motivation, he has also shared some valuable insight in regard to his human resources experience and beliefs. Hearing some of Gio Branco’s whole-hearted values really helped restore my faith for human resource’s future.

As he partook in some of the discussions I had posted in the Linkedin:HR group, I learned he was a Human Resources Consultant. We talked more about his experience and beliefs and I felt that it was a breath of fresh air. I am positive that his clients appreciate his conviction and passion for HR.

As time went on, I saw that Gio also wrote some interesting blogs for his consulting business. Needless to say, I was intrigued to see what he had to say about different human resources topics. Recently,one blog post caught my attention. It discussed some of the reasons why employees perform poorly. Some of the common reasons he mentioned were as follows:

1. Lack of knowledge, skills or abilities.

2. Incorrect role expectations.

3. Lack of motivation.

4. Lack of resources.

5. Poor morale.

I have to agree with the points he made in this posting. A decent amount of times employees don’t perform poorly because they’re incapable of doing the job but because of other factors.

However, there is another thing to consider when it comes to poor performance: management’s role to help fix this situation before it costs the company business or an employee their job. In order to truly assess the situation and determine the best course of action, a manager needs to provide feedback. I feel that one of the biggest mistakes a company can make is to only provide feedback in bi-annually or yearly performance reviews. At that point, the damage is already done. It is imperative that managers give regular feedback to employees and create an environment in which employees feel like they can openly express concerns, issues, or suggestions. Managers may fight that they are too busy to take the time to do this, but if they did it from the start then they wouldn’t be busy putting out fires caused by poor performers. Being proactive will help your business and your employees in the long-run.

One of the best experiences I’ve had in my working career is when I worked for a company in which managers gave me feedback on a weekly and/or monthly basis. These one-on-one feedback sessions helped me learn the areas I could work on and also gave me resources to do better. Most importantly, these sessions helped me learn my weak areas immediately and allowed me to fix the problem before it became a habit. Providing regular feedback can help resolve the areas that Gio had mentioned. Additionally, it can do the following:

  • Allow your employees to fix problems before it becomes a regular occurrence.
  • Ensure that senior employees don’t set a bad example for new employees.
  • Increase morale.
  • Reduce the issues that the company would need to spend time, money, and energy to fix.
  • Cut the costs that would incur if the company had to terminate a poor performer.
  • Cut the costs to hire and train someone new to fill the terminated employee’s spot.
  • Empower employees to be proactive, accountable, and responsible.
  • Allow employees feel like the company is invested in their professional growth which could make them want to be more dedicated and committed to doing a good job.
  • Create a better employee and customer experience.
  • Help a company learn that weak points may be in the structure and training, not the employee.

I literally could go on and on about the importance of providing regular feedback. There are so many benefits, both short-term and long-term. What I know is that the feedback sessions I received from my manager allowed me to professionally grow. I soon became one of the most efficient and accurate employees in the department. I was proud of what I did. This also empowered me to have more time and knowledge to spot weak areas in the company’s processes and suggest ways on how to fix them. With that being said, helping me allowed me to help them in return.

You don’t need to have poor performers in your company, but in order to reduce that you must invest time to provide the necessary feedback to help them turn around their performance.

Links:

Gio’s post about poor performance.

Gio Branco Consulting

How Benefitfocus is Winning with Their Culture

For those of you that know me by now, you probably can tell that I really enjoy researching and writing about company/workplace culture. For whatever reason, learning about a company’s culture is a passion of mine. I find it fascinating that each company has a unique “personality” which allows their employees to either embrace or reject it, thus determining the level of success or failure a company has. I strongly believe that company culture can make or break a business. It is quite a mix: it’s delicate and needs to be handled with care, and yet it holds a certain level of power that can control the fate of a company.

First, I would like to say a big heart-felt “thank you” to a company headquartered here in Charleston, SC. Benefitfocus took notice of my love for company culture and was so kind to send me their book, “Benefitfocus: Winning with Culture”. I just received it the other day so I haven’t finished reading it yet, but it’s been inspiring so far. Their culture is very impressive and could easily give some of Silicon Valley’s top-dogs a run for their money. Companies that are struggling to find that “good cultural balance” might want to pick up a copy and take some notes. It seems to be working very well for them.

Something that did stick out at me so far was actually located in the beginning of the book. The author discussed some of the challenges that Benefitfocus faced when trying to create and maintain the culture that they have today. The company admitted that it wasn’t easy: there were days when employees were stressed out and irritated because of heavy workloads and tight deadlines; there were external factors that tried to get the company to conform to what was “normal”; and they had to find the right balance to try to make all employees as happy  and engaged as they possibly could.

Although there are many challenges, the company has managed to maintain it the best they could. I could tell they were successful in their efforts because the book had an endless amount of employee accounts in which they talk about the specific reasons of why they love the company and what qualities make them excited to come to work every day. Normally, I’d be skeptical of that many employees promoting a company brand in such a positive light. However, while going through my job hunt, I’ve had plenty of friends that work there (or have worked there) that gushed about the company. I’d have to say, you know a company is good when the employees speak highly of it even in private conversations. Reading and hearing about their stories made me smile, laugh, and actually feel a bit jealous (Yeah, so, maybe I’m a brat). Simply stated: It made an impact.

It’s situations like this that show me how important culture is. This company is notorious for celebrating, especially celebrating the individual. Because these employees feel like they’re appreciated just for being themselves, they’ve become more invested in the company. They’re committed. They’re willing to work as hard as possible. All this dedication and hard work has aided the business to grow at rapid rates. Their name and their software are becoming more well-known throughout the world. At this point, I don’t see them slowing down anytime soon. Not only is this good for business, but this PR is actually helping the company attract quality talent, as well.

I don’t normally read detailed books about specific companies, but I can easily say that I’m enjoying this so far and look forward to reading all of it. Yes, it does interest me because it deals with culture but it’s more than just that. I find it refreshing to see a company so committed to the happiness of its employees. Benefitfocus knows and understands that its employees are its greatest asset, and the company treats them as such. It’s also nice to see the conviction in the employees’ statements when they say they honestly love working there. I hope more companies consider the benefits of having a solid company culture and work on creating and/or improving theirs.

Links:

Click here to read more about their culture and watch some of their videos.

Click here to request a copy of their book.