The Ways to Improve Job Descriptions

Posted in Latest News on 2 Nov 2023

A job description is the bread and butter of a recruiter's job. It’s one of the first things a candidate sees when they apply for a role, and it gives them an indication of the work they will be doing, the benefits of the role, and what the client is looking for in a successful applicant.   

However, in today’s work environment, job roles are changing rapidly, and what might have worked when the job was posted looks dated when the post is filled. The employee might find a different set of tasks take priority over what they were employed to do, and they could even decide not to do them because it wasn’t the job they were employed to do. We here at Douglas Scott Legal Recruitment are very aware of the need for job descriptions to keep up with the times, so here are some ways you can make your job descriptions better reflect the needs of your business and clarify what you need from your applicants.  

As roles become more project-based, the Harvard Business Review recently highlighted several ways job descriptions must change to articulate better what people expect from their positions. One significant way that job descriptions are changing is that they are now describing what the outcomes of this new employment should be. For example, terms like ‘increasing regional sales by 20%’ rather than explaining what they should do. This allows people to easily see what people expect of them, rather than vague terms that won’t give them a feel for the level of commitment the role requires. It has been found that this keeps employees motivated and engaged in their work.   

Another change has been toward skills-focused descriptions. These outline what a successful candidate should be able to bring to the table and how they should develop within a role. This relies on you knowing what skills you need for a position and identifying suitable training and development programs, but these are things you should know before you look to recruit someone anyway. However, it can be a way to utilise people’s skills right from the beginning and make them feel valued and there because of what they can offer, not because the company needs a role filling.   However, these changes can always bring with them challenges. For example, if poorly written, they can lead to unclear job expectations. It can be challenging for management to judge success if they haven’t got a clear job description. However, using technology and things like skills matrixes, you can quickly identify where your new employee has succeeded, and, in a world of shared online planners and calendars, it can be pretty easy to determine where your new hire is thriving and where they may need a little help. Progress reviews can also feed into this.

Overall, job descriptions are evolving just as much as the world of work is, as new technologies and ways of working develop. However, moving away from a ‘one-size-fits-all' approach, job descriptions can develop to reflect the changing nature of the working environment while at the same time giving clear indicators of what is expected of potential applicants and giving them a good indication of whether a role is right for them. 

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