Skills-Based Job Descriptions 101: How to Attract ‘Truly’ Qualified Talent

August 2, 2017

A hiring manager’s goal when posting a job description is to capture the attention of the best candidate for the opening.  No brainer, right? Not always. This month in the Pinnacle Blog we wanted to write a brief article on how to effectively write skills-based job descriptions. We constantly see accounting and finance job descriptions which fail to reflect the true nature of the accounting and finance roles we recruit for (and no worries, we understand that sometimes pulling them off of Google is easier than drafting your own). To save you, the hiring manager, 100 resumes of exasperation and candidate heartache, here are some points to consider before putting pen to paper.

To help you avoid an unending amount of hours interviewing candidates that are not fit for the job, we first would like you to consider the type of candidate you are truly looking for. Ask yourself this, “How can I eliminate unsuitable applicants right from the beginning?”

In order to do this, the needs of the hiring business need to be assessed. Questions such as, What type of individual are we seeking? and Is there a culture about our firm that needs to be communicated? help to guide that conversation.  Sharing the answers to these types of questions help job seekers evaluate their ability to effectively complete the job even before applying.

What’s your elevator pitch?

The introduction on a posting is important; it either deters or entices the applicant to continue reading. “A job description is like an employer’s sales pitch to candidates.” [1] A good place to start is by sharing more regarding your company and its nature. What are its strengths? What makes the organization paramount to others? The way these answers are handled and the vocabulary used can speak volumes.

Are you including the basics?

It might seem obvious, but be sure to include the basics for the position in the description:

  • Job title and who the person will be reporting to
  • Work schedule (or a statement of flexible hours)
  • Location of job
  • Purpose of the job
  • Duties and responsibilities expected
  • Required education
  • Desired skill set
  • Previous work experience
  • Certifications

“A good job description is useful even after you make the hire. It serves as a template for evaluating an employee’s performance and can even protect business owners from allegations of unfair employment practices.” [2] 

Should I include salary range?

Another debatable basic point not included in the list above is salary. The topic of salary is subject to the hiring manager’s discretion.  The pros and cons should be weighed about its inclusion. While it can help weed out potential candidates if the figure it not what they were hoping for, it can also hinder someone from applying that would otherwise make a good fit. Perhaps this person would still be interested in the position because of other benefits within the organization that are not stated. A salary range is an option with a clause that notes “determined based on experience.” Another point to include for accounting roles is whether they are in the exempt or nonexempt category. Applicants will want to know whether overtime pay is an option.

Formatting for visual learners.

When including the specifications of a job description, bullet points are of value and serve as an easy way for people to quickly know if this position is a possibility for them. It makes it more likely that people will actually read through the description. Lengthy sentences and paragraphs can prevent people from reading further and they will move on to the next posting.

Flexibility should be stated. This can be indicated in a phrase such as “other duties to be determined” or “duties may change over time.”  This allows the hiring company freedom in the future to let the title evolve organically. It is a known fact that with technology, jobs are constantly changing and new hires should be accepting of this.

Phone a friend to help.

Finally, once the description is complete, run it past someone who holds a similar title and ask for their opinion. Chances are that they will be able to share constructive feedback, add or change wording and ultimately say whether they think it is an accurate depiction of the job. For accounting positions, an agency might also want to obtain legal advice to know how best to categorize the job.  

Summing It Up

Setting your company apart from others and sharing what makes it unique and different help during the hiring process. Make your business attractive to the type of worker you desire. Be concise and short in descriptions. Include an accurate picture of the position, duties and responsibilities expected while also including that the job may change over time. Once the job description is reviewed by other reliable individuals, press “submit” and anticipate the response from the perfect candidate.

If you are struggling to write your next job description, contact our team! We will work with you to create the perfect job description. Are you looking to go beyond traditional skills-based job descriptions? Next month we will take a look at performance-based job descriptions and when to utilize them.


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