Is it Time to Ditch the Job Description? Reimagining How We Attract Top Talent 

Let’s face it, the traditional job description is a relic of a bygone era. It’s a laundry list of ...

Let’s face it, the traditional job description is a relic of a bygone era. It’s a laundry list of responsibilities, a skills checklist that often reads more like a shopping list than an enticing invitation to join a dynamic team. But what if we ripped up the tired template and started from scratch? What if, instead of trying to fix a broken system, we dared to dream bigger and create a whole new way to attract and engage top talent? 

Enter “black sky thinking,” an innovation technique that encourages us to brainstorm worst-case scenarios to ultimately arrive at stronger solutions. So, let’s envision the absolute worst that could happen with our current job description model: 

  • Mismatched Expectations: A candidate skims a vague description, lands the job, then feels misled by the reality of the role. Frustration and disappointment ensue, leading to churn and wasted time for both parties.
  • Unleashing the Resume Buzzword Monster: Candidates fill resumes with generic, overused keywords to match the laundry list, creating a sea of indistinguishable applications. Hiring managers drown in a sea of mediocrity, unable to identify truly qualified individuals.
  • Hidden Gems Go Unseen: A talented candidate, lacking a specific software mentioned in the description, overlooks a perfect opportunity. The company misses out on a potentially stellar hire, all because of a rigid list of requirements.

When you consider these scenarios, one fact becomes abundantly clear – we are living with the worst-case scenario every day. Rather than embrace “groundhogs day,” it’s time we consider a brand new approach.  

Reimagining the Job Description

So what if we threw out the dusty job description altogether? If the worst case scenario is a long, detailed description that prompts the job seeker to skim or skip it based on an assumption of role, it’s time to use history and today’s current trends in job seeker experience and desires for an optimized experience to develop an approach that informs, engages and aligns prospects and employer with optimized results.  

Some considerations:  

Scrap the laundry list: Ditch the bullet points outlining generic skills and years of experience. Instead, focus on creating a compelling narrative. Craft a story that captures the essence of the role, the challenges it presents, and the impact the successful candidate will have. 

Go beyond responsibilities: Job descriptions typically list responsibilities, but what about the day-to-day reality? Incorporate a “day in the life” section that showcases the typical tasks, unexpected challenges, and opportunities for growth within the role. 

Highlight company culture: Results from our Work Futures report indicate job seekers aren’t investing much in culture, and we believe that stems from organizations missing the opportunity to focus on building and citing real examples of their values-based culture.  If your organization evaluates culture and implements processes and initiatives to develop and build on it, share those efforts through videos, employee testimonials, or even glimpses of the team’s workspace to give candidates a real feel for the company culture. 

Focus on the “why”: Attract top talent by going beyond just compensation and benefits. Explain the “why” behind the role. What problem are you solving? How will this candidate’s work contribute to the company’s mission? 

Interactive Assessments: Move beyond the traditional resume review. Develop interactive assessments that go beyond skills and experience. The research from our recent Work Futures report confirmed that while 62% of workers indicate they underwent skills assessments for their current role, less than half of the employees we interviewed underwent values or culture assessments. In addition to helping to ensure the values and culture of your organization comes through from the very early stages of consideration, assessments could involve problem-solving scenarios or short writing exercises that give a more accurate picture of a candidate’s fit for the role. 

Of course, this isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Developing these innovative descriptions requires an investment in time, resources, and potentially, new skillsets within HR departments. Additionally, ensuring accessibility for all candidates across tech platforms is crucial. 

The future of work demands a future-proof approach to attracting talent. Job descriptions shouldn’t just list tasks; they should paint a compelling picture of the opportunity, the impact, and the sense of belonging a candidate can expect. By embracing innovation and black sky thinking, we can move beyond the limitations of the traditional description and create a system that truly sells the dream, not just the job.