Hiring? Here’s Why You Need to Update Your Job Descriptions

By Robert Half on December 16, 2021 at 6:30am

Jobs constantly evolve. And in the age of COVID-19, they may be evolving faster and more unpredictably than ever.

For hiring managers, this can create a bit of a headache. Imagine a worker whose responsibilities have changed radically over the past two years — in addition to changes in your company’s policies and procedures. Unless those changes are documented, the manager will struggle to recruit a suitable replacement.

Job descriptions need to describe the role’s current requirements and responsibilities and what your company policies are now — not where everything was pre-pandemic or before the role had changed. If not, you’ll already be behind if an employee leaves, forcing you to scramble to accurately update the job description while also trying to manage a shorthanded staff.

It should be obvious that you need to include the job’s current responsibilities and experience requirements, so here’s a rundown of other details you should include.

Location, location, location

Perhaps the biggest impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was the shift to full-time remote work and later to hybrid setups that alternate between working in the office and working at home. Research for Robert Half’s 2022 Salary Guide found that more than half (56%) of workers want remote work options. So, if you’re recruiting for a remote or hybrid role, make this a prominent feature of the job description. If you can, spell out how a position’s work arrangements mesh with those of other team members so that potential hires get a sense of how, when and where they will collaborate with colleagues.

Finally, if the position is fully remote, specify any residency restrictions that may apply. For example, if employees can work only from certain neighboring states, you should make this clear.

COVID-19 policies and procedures

While case numbers may be declining in certain areas and vaccines are readily available in the United States, infection is still a concern for employers and workers alike. As such, it’s important to explain any policies and procedures related to preventing the spread of COVID-19 your organization has in place, especially for on-site positions.

Include your policies surrounding masks, temperature checks and capacity restrictions for common areas like meeting rooms and elevators. Some companies have also put restrictions in place for outside visitors and business travel or attendance at external events. If this applies to your organization, include it.

Vaccine mandates and requirements are currently a hot topic, but some businesses are setting rules and expectations for employee vaccinations. Include any vaccine requirements, deadlines, submission requirements and exception criteria your organization has in place.

Adding this information to your job descriptions will reassure candidates that employee health and safety is your top priority — and demonstrate that you value transparency. Keep in mind that some of these policies are moving targets and may need to be revised and updated frequently.


Describe your DEI policies (in an inclusive way)

The shift to remote and hybrid work isn’t the only noteworthy trend of recent times. More companies than ever are stressing the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), not only as it relates to existing staff but as a best practice guiding the hiring process. Research from Robert Half shows that 40% of companies are now posting open roles on DEI-focused job sites, and 32% are partnering with DEI groups to find candidates.

In such an environment, including your DEI policy in your job descriptions is clearly good practice, but it’s only the first step. Trumpeting your commitment to equal opportunities in a sidebar could backfire if other parts of the job description contain non-inclusive language. To avoid this, try to do the following:

  • Jettison gender-loaded terms like “rock star” and “ninja” (which are cliches in any case). Favor words like “committed” over ones like “aggressive.”
  • Use human, relatable language rather than corporate jargon.
  • Focus on must-have rather than nice-to-have skills — studies have shown that women, veterans and people from other underrepresented groups may feel less confident applying to positions they feel underqualified for.
  • Use diversity and inclusion software to scan your job descriptions for non-inclusive language.

Keep it simple — and honest

Drafting job descriptions may be more complicated these days, but that shouldn’t be apparent to the candidates who read them. Use clear, concise language that leaves no room for misinterpretation. Road-test your job descriptions with colleagues, asking them to highlight anything that seems ambiguous or vague.

Above all, be honest. Don’t try to appeal to candidates by sugar-coating the realities of the position, be they long hours or limited opportunities for remote work.

If this sounds daunting, reach out for help. Teaming up with a talent solutions firm gives you access to hiring experts who can make your job descriptions stand out from the crowd. Most importantly, their recruiting specialists already have talented candidates lined up to read them.

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