Job descriptions are not clear. According to research from the Allegis Group, 68% of candidates don’t believe that the information provided in the job description is clear and accurate. 78% of candidates don’t believe that job descriptions illustrate the employee value proposition of the business and the same amount also say that the job description fails to provide insight into the company culture. That research also showed that the top 3 aspects ranked most important by job seekers are Culture/Environment, Job responsibilities and advancement opportunities. This means that most job descriptions are failing to meet the 3 most important aspects job seekers value.
What's the cost of this? According to Stack Overflow a great job description can get 10x more applicants than a poor one. It's not just missed candidates though. Poorly written job descriptions can also lead to bad hires. Allegis Group found that 92% of hiring managers say that employees are not always hired with the skills required to do the job. This corresponds with 93% of candidates who say that they are offered jobs for which they are not always fully qualified. It's hard to hire a qualified employee when you don't even understand the qualifications. When you're hiring a developer this leads to bad code, missed deadlines and lost revenue.
Even when the candidate is qualified, a poor job description can lead to problems later. ThriveMap found that 48% of workers have left a job because it was different than how they imagined it in the recruiting process. A further 31% have left a company because the culture did not meet expectations. Job descriptions that don't properly set expectations can kill retention of your most valuable employees.
The Discovery Process
At G2i, job descriptions are central to what we do. Companies come to us looking for the best developer for their role and the job description that they post can make or break their success. That's why we've made it our mission to help companies produce the best job description possible. One that will attract the right candidates and will lead to long term success.
The first step in creating a better job description is to step into the candidate's shoes. Too many job descriptions are written from the company's point of view. However, it's the candidate experience that should be prioritized, especially when hiring a developer. 70% of the global workforce are passive searchers and there's a massive supply shortage in the developer market. This means that you're not just having to show that your opportunity is better than other jobs the developer can find on the market, you also have to show that your opportunity is better than the developer's current job. We help companies achieve this by thinking of our developers as customers and the jobs as products.
At G2i, we have spent 5 years listening to and learning from developers which we are able to bring to bear on this process. One of the first things we've discovered is that developers ask us a lot of the same questions about jobs. They want to know about the product: what's the industry, what's the problem and solution, who does this help? They want to know about the team: how many people are they going to work with and what's collaboration like? They want to know about the tech stack: what tools are they going to work with and what parts are they going to be responsible for? Knowing how common these questions were we made sure to prioritize them in our re-designed process.
We've also learned that developers are careful with their time when it comes to their job search. They don't want to waste their time with a role if it's not going to be a fit and if they're unsure, they opt towards not applying rather than exploring further. Almost every developer I know has a horror story of some terrible work experience. Past bad actors have made them hesitant to trust the next company that comes along. We had to think about how to overcome that hesitancy and demonstrate that our opportunities are ones they can trust.
Developing a Solution
With these lessons in mind, we iterated on the job description a few times trying out different formats to find what resonated with developers. We captured feedback and made sure that positive aspects were included in the next version. We found that in particular, specific details about the role (especially technical details) were appreciated by developers. Getting a transparent and detailed look into the job gave them more confidence about the role.
Another aspect that was considered in our approach was designing for trust. We had to make sure that the job description demonstrated to the developer that it was worth their time. This meant anticipating developer questions and providing answers in the description. It also meant emphasizing transparency, going above and beyond expectations. We wanted to humanize the process and eliminate jargon that often clutters job descriptions. Instead, we developed structured language that mirrors how developers actually talk about jobs and used that to flesh out the job description.
The output of this process is our new job form. This form walks you through the process of creating a job description that will bring you the right candidates for your job. It will also help you to set clear expectations for the role which will improve your retention of high value employees. In order to maximize your success with the form, we've provided a walkthrough below.
About the Company
The questions in this section are designed to tell a story about your company. People connect with stories more readily and they're more interesting than a typical company description. This also gives you a chance to give developers a good sense of the realities of the day to day and the culture. It's more concrete than a typical mission or vision statement. This all inspires trust through transparency which removes a major obstacle in getting the right candidates. Here's an example of what answers to these questions might look like:
- Describe the last year at your company
- Last year we added a ton of staff and went through the growing pains of doing so. We also really focused on defining our vision for the company and where we want to head towards.
- Describe the current state of your company
- We’re really trying to make the leap to a scalable product. Up to this point we’ve been following the “do things that don’t scale” mentality and it’s served us well, but we need to pivot now. Our cost structure is such that in order to get to the next level of revenue we either have to hire a lot more people (and raise a lot more money to do so) or lower marginal costs through scalable product solutions. The goal is to have the MVP of our scalable products completed by the end of the year.
- Where do you see the company being a year from now?
- We will have completed our scalable product MVP and will be focused on trying to become the best product in the world in our space. We’re going to stay focused in a niche to avoid expanding too early while seeking to be the #1 solution in our space.
About the Product
Developers want to know about your product and resonate with it. Your product description helps them do that. The roadmap gives a developer a sense of the scope of work which is important for expectation setting. Customer success stories help develop user empathy and make the whole process more human. Here's a made up example of how an instant messaging platform might answer these questions:
- Describe your product
- We have an instant messaging platform designed for work. We are trying to replace email as the primary work communication tool and break down communication barriers across organizations.
- What is the current roadmap for the product?
- We are working on a live translation feature that allows users to type and read messages in their own language despite what language other users are using.
- What is a typical customer success story?
- A typical customer comes in and is in email hell. Communication is slow and imprecise. There’s communication silos across the organization. They get setup on Slack and start following the best practices. They watch as communication speeds up and clarity increases. Communication silos disappear and the organization moves faster delivering value for their customers.
About the Role
These questions are all about expectation setting. Specific always beats general in this area. By detailing expectations at each milestone you're providing a guide for both parties to track progress on the job. This makes the developer feel more comfortable about the role and lessens the chance that they will feel disgruntled later (Assuming you stick to the plan!). Some examples of how you might answer these questions:
- Complete the login/logout user story
- Publish findings from a research spike on what database to migrate to
- Work with the team to scope the requirements for the user profile story
There's a lot of opportunity to to build upon this base and to continue to design for trust. In the future, we plan on integrating reviews from developers about their experience working on projects with a company. We would ask about communication, expectation management, work experience, personal and professional support. Early versions of this are already in the works.
We also see the opportunity to showcase certain companies that have done excellent work with developers in the past. This would include introducing video, interviewing employees at the company and giving them a chance to really show why they're so great to work for. The goal is to continue to humanize the company through scalable means.
Finally, we want to invest more into structured data in the job creation process. We will be looking for patterns in the responses to the form questions that can allow us to move responses from free form to select. This creates a common language for companies and developers which will lead to better matches. The challenge will be to balance clarity with personality and freedom.
We will continue to seek out and listen to feedback from our customers. Our goal is to create the best hiring experience in the world and with your help, we're doing it. If you have feedback on this form you can email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.