Writing Tech Job Descriptions That Attract the Right Talent: A Guide
When recruiting for IT or telecommunications talent, most large organizations focus their efforts on reaching out to candidates through LinkedIn or connecting with talent through trade shows, online networks, and referrals from current employees. What if we told you that finding the right candidates starts even before you log onto LinkedIn—that sourcing top IT and telecommunications talent starts with developing effective and appealing job descriptions?
The importance of job descriptions within the recruiting process is often underestimated, which leads to unfortunate consequences for many companies. Research shows that more than 50% of all HR managers worldwide claim mismatched employee expectations arising from terrible job descriptions cause employees to leave their organizations.
Not anymore. Read on to discover the anatomy of effective job descriptions for IT and telecommunications candidates, so you can attract the right talent and then position them for success.
Head of the Job Description: A Consistent Job Title That Candidates Would Search For
According to a survey conducted by Pearl Meyer & Partners, only 37% of surveyed organizations use job titles to attract talent. If your company’s job descriptions fall into that category, you’re missing out on an opportunity to communicate exactly who you’re looking for and to appeal to high performers.
In fact, many candidates will decide whether to learn more about the vacancy or move on based solely on the job title, especially when scrolling through dozens of open positions on a job board or your organization’s career page. If it doesn’t catch their eye, they won’t stop to apply. That is why it is essential to craft job titles that:
- Describe the position (and any inherent management responsibilities) accurately
- Match terms that candidates would search for
Start by assessing your company’s internal job titling practices. Are they uniform across the board or does each department abide by different titling conventions? Pearl Meyer reports that nearly 30% of firms struggle with job title conformity, which can lead to issues when attracting and retaining talent.
The greater the confusion among departments—for instance, the terms “manager” or “vice president” having different meanings in accounting versus IT—the more confusion you will encounter when appropriately titling your job descriptions… and the greater the chance of confusing and dissatisfying candidates and employees.
Lastly, if your organization empowers employees to craft their own job titles, such as “software ninjaneer” (yes, this is an actual job title at tech start-up TSheets), consider leaving the customization for the employee’s start date and abiding by more conventional job titles for your postings. You don’t want to miss out on attracting top candidates because they don’t believe the term “software ninjaneer” applies to their skillset.
Additionally, getting too creative too soon will cause you to lose out on the search engine optimization (SEO) benefits of using commonly searched terms like “full stack web developer.” When posting your open positions online, you have a much higher chance of getting job descriptions in front of candidates who are actively searching via search engines if you match the queries they are typing into Google.
At Link Consulting Services, for instance, some of our most heavily recruited IT and telecommunications positions for our Fortune 500 clients include:
- Core Network Engineer
- Cloud Engineers, Architects, Infrastructure Specialists, or Developers
- Project Managers
- Full Stack Developers
- QA Testers
- Security Project Managers
- Big Data Analysts
Is your organization looking for highly-skilled candidates with the job titles mentioned above?
Shoulders: Straightforward Overview of Role and Duties
Perhaps the most important piece of any IT and telecommunications job description, a one- to two-paragraph summary of the employee’s job duties helps candidates understand their potential responsibilities and assess whether they would be a good fit for the role.
Keep in mind that less is more in this section. All too often, organizations go overboard and include everything but the kitchen sink in an effort to cover all the bases. In reality, this can alienate candidates. For instance, Hewlett Packard determined that female candidates typically only apply to positions if they meet 100% of qualifications, mostly because they do not believe that the company will hire them.
Don’t let great candidates slip through your fingers—create a concise overview of crucial job duties that you cannot do without using a two-step system. First, write out everything that this team member would be responsible for. Think of how you would describe an average “day in the life” to a colleague or potential applicant.
- The type of position: full-time, project-based, temporary-to-hire, etc.
- Everyday responsibilities
- Essential functions*
- Who the employee would coordinate or work with (or would they work solo most of the time?)
- Project timelines and workplace pace
- Travel duties, if applicable
Then, boil this comprehensive summary into no more than 10 sentences and/or bullet points that describe the job.
*Note: With regards to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), essential functions are the job duties that an employee must be able to perform, with or without reasonable accommodation. Please understand that this article is not meant to be a comprehensive guide regarding job duties, essential functions, or developing legally-compliant job descriptions, and is not intended to provide legal advice. Be sure to consult your organization’s legal counsel to ensure that all job descriptions are compliant under the ADA.
Chest: Brief Definition of Successful Top Performer
After outlining the employee’s responsibilities, dedicate some space to describing a top performer within this position. Defining success from the get-go ensures that your organization remains transparent about the expectations and realities of the position, which can prevent significant turnover in the future. Remember that statistic from the beginning of this article? More than half of all HR managers say that mismatched employee expectations arising from poor job descriptions lead to turnover.
Therefore, ask: if you could build the perfect employee for this position, what would he or she look like? If you currently employ a high performer in this role, how would you describe him or her?
Share no more than 10 ideal traits using short, declarative sentences organized in small sections or organized in a bulleted list, and make this section more personal by using terms that directly address the reader. For instance, “you thrive on inventing new solutions to recurring problems” helps the reader envision themselves in that position—or, in the case of unfit candidates, realize the disconnect between themselves and the type of person you are searching for.
Stomach: Bulleted List of Qualifications and Must-Haves
This section encompasses absolute make-or-break items. Do not confuse these with nice-to-haves, which come later in the job description. What is the handful of qualifications that you cannot do without? A few examples include:
- A college diploma
- Graduate degree
- Years of experience
- Proficiency in foreign languages
- Proficiency in specific technical knowledge, e.g., programming languages
At Link Consulting Services, one of the most common complaints from organizations of all sizes—from Fortune 500 companies to smaller businesses—is that they struggle to find candidates with the right skillsets.
(This is supported by data as well; according to the National Federation of Independent Business, or NFIB, 47% of small businesses can’t find qualified candidates to fill open positions. Additionally, a Harris Poll for Glassdoor determined that 52% of hiring decision makers claim that sourcing passive candidate has been less effective for their organizations.) As a result, organizations experience higher turnover, decreased productivity, and wasted resources.
That is why Link Consulting Services implements our proprietary 49-step placement process for all IT and telecommunications candidates, resulting in rapid-response recruiting that ensures the right fit between clients and talent.
Learn more about our 49-step placement process!
Necessary qualifications are one of the first steps during our assessment—and they should be a significant part of your IT and telecommunications job descriptions as well.
Oftentimes, organizations do not delve deeply enough into the specific skills that candidates would need to perform adequately in their role or project, instead relying upon the job title to imply the skills needed for the position.
Unfortunately, this is a disaster waiting to happen. At best, the result is dozens of wasted HR hours weeding through unqualified candidate resumes. At worst, you end up hiring unfit candidates, which can result in tens of thousands of dollars lost in subpar work, damaged productivity, and stalled projects.
Prevent these issues from arising within your organization. Explain the specific types of technical knowledge that candidates absolutely must possess for technology-related job postings.
Hips: Bulleted List of Nice-to-Haves
After the nitty-gritty of must-haves, indulge in a few of the “extras” that your dream candidate would embody. Be sure to separate these from the section of necessities above, which should contain fundamental must-haves. This area should only include bonus items that would strengthen a candidate’s application, not automatically disqualify them from consideration.
For instance, nice-to-haves may include:
- Familiarity with a specific project management tool or CRM
- Experience within your organization’s industry or niche
- Knowledge of additional programming languages or possession of extra technical skills (remember, be as specific as possible)
- Availability to work on nights and weekends, or willingness to travel
You may want to mention that applicants who possess these skills will be more strongly considered than candidates with the base skills listed in the must-haves section above.
Knees: Description of the Employee’s Role Within Larger Organization
Rather than including information about your company’s culture, which candidates can easily read up on if they would like (be sure to include a link to the “About Us” page on your website), use this opportunity to highlight how the role being advertised fits into your larger organization.
Why is this role important and how will it impact your company? What perks and growth opportunities are available to the right candidate? Addressing the latter is particularly important for attracting Millennial applicants (those born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s); according to Gallup, 87% of Millennials claim that professional development or career growth opportunities are very important to them in a position.
Feet: Deadline Information, and How to Apply and Refer Others
Of course, no job description is complete without instructions about how to actually apply. Wrap things up concisely in this section by providing necessary information such as:
- Where to send or submit an application
- Which document format is best, such as Word document or PDF
- The deadline (don’t forget to include the time zone)
- How to refer others
After putting the final touches on this section, review your completed job description and then ask a colleague to review it objectively. An outside perspective can help to identify problem areas and optimize your job description for maximum appeal.
Lastly, if you are having trouble developing effective job descriptions, or you find that your organization keeps encountering unfit candidates, reach out to Link Consulting Services. As a recruitment consultant for Fortune 500 companies and industry-leading organizations, we can not only help you write appropriate job descriptions, but also help with recruiting world-class IT and telecommunications talent from around the world.