This blog post starts with a memory exercise: think back to a job you posted 2-3 years ago. How many candidates were in your candidate pool? How qualified were they? How long did it take to weed through the resumes and determine who to interview?
Now, think to your last job post. How has the candidate pool changed? Do you have a stack of resumes to weed through, or are you trying to determine if anyone is well-enough qualified for an interview?
If you’re like many organizations today, hiring has become increasingly challenging, and your candidate pools are likely not what they were even a year ago. While it is clear that the market has changed, it is also important that you are putting your best foot forward with a stellar job description. Before you post your next job, double check it for these five hidden red flags before posting.
Red Flag 1: Unclear Salary Range
This red flag is increasingly common: posting a job description without a salary. The creative compensation descriptions are wide ranging: “Depends on experience or DOE”, “Competitive” or “Commensurate with experience”. However, this can certainly be a red flag, as it sends a message to potential candidates that you’re not going to pay them fairly. The benefits to posting a clear salary range are wide-ranging both for the employee and the employer:
Employee benefits include:
● Increases trust and transparency in employer from beginning of relationship, knowing that they don’t need to start off guessing their value
● Decreases likelihood of gender or racial wage gap, increases equity regardless of final candidate selected
● Increases transparency across employees within company, as there are no secrets about what new employees are being offered
● Provides prospective candidates a good tool for gauging their interest in the position
● Saves the candidate time in needing to research the likely salary range for the position
Employer benefits include:
● Weeds out candidates that would not accept a job offer within your planned budget, saving time and preventing other great candidates from leaving the candidate pool as the search time period is extended
● Encourages candidates to apply who may not have interest without knowing the salary range
Red Flag 2: Misaligned Job Qualifications
Having misaligned job qualifications in your job description can be a bit trickier to identify. However, there are two potential possibilities here that could send a red flag to potential candidates. The first is that the job qualifications do not align with the actual requirements of the job. This misalignment can be extreme, and seemingly deliberate, or honest mistakes by companies who are just looking for great candidates. Regardless, this red flag is likely to drive away candidates that are capable of doing the job.
In your job posting, examine your stated duties and responsibilities. What will this individual be doing on a day to day basis? Now, take a look at the requirements. Are the requirements truly necessary for completion of the duties and responsibilities? Is it possible that someone who does not check all the boxes might be able to perform the responsibilities? A college degree is a great example. You might like for your full customer service team to have college degrees. However, is there something in their day-to-day responsibilities that truly cannot be done without having completed a degree? In this case, consider adding desired qualifications, and assess those “nice-to-haves” separately.
Similarly, avoid asking for supervisory experience for a position who is not truly a manager, or asking for a wide variety of technical skills for a position only focused on one particular system. Not only will these wide-ranging job requirements be challenging for candidates to live up to, savvy candidates will see that the organization is unclear about who they’re looking for, and will look for opportunities elsewhere.
This leads to the second possible misalignment: job qualifications that do not align with the likely candidates for the job. In some cases, your posted qualifications might align with the responsibilities somewhat well, but still be worded in a way that is likely to weed out a high percentage of your candidate pool. For example, “entry level” positions likely will not have 5 years of experience on a particular skillset or system. Even more particularly, consider how recent the skillset or system in question is. If it is a particularly new technology, the skill, and especially years of experience in the skill, may be even
harder to find.
Red Flag 3: Misaligned Job Title
Finding the right job title for your job posting is not only tricky – it is critical. Unfortunately, there are a lot of potential fatal flaws here that can send your candidates looking elsewhere. The first potential red flag is the inflated job title, in which a “Director of Recruitment” is actually the person scanning the resumes as backup documentation into the HR system.
Similar to the second red flag, this involves scanning your full job posting for consistency. Does your job title truly align with the day to day responsibilities of the job?
Some organizations consider job titles a “benefit”. Hiring someone in as a Director offers them a sense of importance and value, and can accelerate their career. However, if they are not leading a team or initiative, the title likely is not aligned with their job responsibilities. In some cases, this tactic may work, and increase your candidate pool. However, there are a few risks:
● 1: As your organization grows, it may be hard to continue offering these titles to individuals not in true leadership positions. After the precedent is set, it will be hard to stop.
● 2: Some savvy candidates may recognize it as a “tactic” and see that they’re likely to not truly have the responsibilities that the title would typically assume.
● 3: Many candidates applying for leadership positions would also hope for opportunities to promote and advance. If your job titles do not align with responsibilities, will you have additional job titles available for promotion opportunities?
● 4: Your job posting may attract a candidate pool at the typical industry level for the job title. If you are not going to compensate them according to the industry standards for that job title, your pool may not be well-matched.
A different set of risks arises if the level of responsibility associated with the job duties exceeds the job title. First, individuals tend to search for jobs based on title. You may attract candidates based on the job title, rather than the actual responsibilities, who thus are not truly qualified for the job. Second, most candidates will recognize the challenging nature of the job, and not be willing to settle for a job title that does not align with the job responsibilities.
The third potential title-related red flag is the ever-popular “buzzword” job title. Many companies today like to hire “Social Media Gurus”, “HR Ninjas” and “Advertising Rock Stars”. This may attract a specific type of candidate – but it is also likely to alienate a lot more, who would prefer to have a job title they can put on their resume in the future without embarrassment. This leads us into Red Flag number 4, Unfavorable Culture.
Red Flag 4: Unfavorable Culture
“Fun” job titles are one sign of a potentially unfavorable culture. Buzzwords also pop up in job postings too – many job descriptions today ask for individuals who “hustle”, are “rockstars” or “wear many hats”. A few red flags may be less obvious, though:
● Fast-paced: Yes, your organization may be fast-paced, so yes, it is okay to say that it is. However, over-emphasis on this trait can lead prospective candidates to feel that they will be overworked, constantly pushed to changing deadlines, and never given time to meet objectives.
● Flexible: Again – many jobs today require flexibility as resources are thin and teams must be nimble. However, over-emphasis can suggest a work environment where individuals will be regularly asked to do the jobs of others or work outside of their regular schedule or job responsibilities. It can be tempered within a job description to explain what kind of flexibility is appreciated in the organization.
● Thick Skin: A job description asking someone to have “thick skin” is likely to send the message that not only will they receive feedback, they’ll likely need to be accustomed to potentially insensitive leaders, changing metrics and regular assessment.
Red Flag 5: Unclear Job Duties
When posting a job description, especially for a new position, there may be unknowns. However, a candidate should be able to read the job description and understand what the day-to-day will generally look like. Have a family member or friend read your last job posting. Can they explain the job to you? How far off are they?
Someone with experience and expertise will of course have a better understanding – but even someone outside of the industry should be able to read the job description and understand the duties. A job posting with unclear job duties sends a red flag to potential candidates that the organization does not have the job clearly defined, and is likely to make it up as they go. This is likely to send potentially great candidates applying elsewhere.
The next time you start crafting a job description, come back to this blog post. Re-read for the hidden flags that you may typically have within your job postings, and be sure to remove them in the future. For some additional commentary on the red flags, listen to our podcast on the same topic