Why it’s time to reinvent job descriptions

I believe the answer may be simple: the talent is out there. But businesses need to rethink the way in which they look for talent and what they say in order to attract it. In short, it’s time to reinvent job descriptions.

The effect technology has had on the way professionals look for jobs has been vast and the result is a complete transformation of not only the search process, but the role of the job description itself. Most companies understand that more and more candidates are going online to search for opportunities, but many have not noticed how this has affected the purpose of an online job description.

The objective of the job description now needs not to pre-qualify the person, but rather to generate interest in the position and the company. So how does a business craft an effective job description for today?

1. Highlight what you offer as a company

Talented and skilled workers are increasingly shopping around for companies they want to work for. In our experience, skilled independent workers are attracted to businesses with a strong vision. They also want to know how they as individuals can contribute to the overall success. Potential candidates also want to know how they can utilise their skills and experience in a meaningful way and how they will learn and develop in their role.

2. Showcase a flexible work approach

According to some of our own research, we are beginning to see preferences for a new type of work emerging: working independently as a freelancer on a project basis for multiple businesses. In fact, 87 per cent of Gen Y graduates with a first or second class degree now see freelancing as a highly attractive and lucrative career option, something unheard of in the baby boomer generation.

The research also showed that almost a third of Gen Yers want to be able to work from wherever they prefer. Working from home or from a co-working space one or two days a week is as attractive to Gen Y as the corner office was to their parents. Companies therefore need to think about what they can offer from a lifestyle perspective rather than in terms of traditional business “perks”.

3. Outline results and the skills you’re looking for to drive them

Work is becoming more results-driven (rather than focusing on a static role). Therefore it’s better to approach job descriptions by concentrating on the performance objectives of the role; this way the candidate knows exactly what is expected of them and the results they will help drive. We know from connecting millions of online freelancers to thousands of businesses each year, people respond well when there’s clarity about what the job entails.

Undoubtedly, looking for the perfect person for a role is time consuming and businesses will be concerned about productivity in the interim. One thing businesses could consider is hiring an online freelancer with the specific skills needed at that moment in time to ensure that client deadlines are still met. In doing so, businesses may discover that the skills they’re advertising for in the job description could actually be adapted and changed. Or, that the work is better suited to a team of remote workers with different skills who work alongside the company’s full time staff, albeit in a virtual sense.

Ultimately, the businesses that are going to win in the war for talent, are those that accept the challenges and opportunities presented, and adapt to this new way of recruiting.

Hayley Conick is Country Manager for Elance-oDesk, a company creating the world’s largest online workplaces.

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