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ASCM Insights

Attract Applicants with Standout Job Descriptions

By Rodney Apple

The competition for top supply chain talent is fierce. Many organizations struggle to fill job vacancies in a timely manner. One of the most common mistakes companies make is failing to craft job descriptions that appeal and motivate people to act. Spend a few minutes on any job board and you will see numerous awful job descriptions. Many contain nothing but a generic list of tasks, responsibilities and desired skills. Job descriptions like this reek of indifference, convey that the employer is not interested in engaging its employees, and ultimately do much more harm than good.

There is a clear and strong association between a company’s job descriptions and its brand image. Just as negative brand image deters consumers from purchasing products or services, apathetic and uninspiring job postings deter the best candidates from applying.

Supply chain professionals must optimize their career marketing efforts. Taking the time to craft job descriptions that compel the right candidates to apply is a great place to start.

Begin with targeted job titles. Instead of using generic or vague terminology, integrate functional or departmental context into the job title. For example, if you have a logistics analyst opening on your distribution engineering team, instead of saying simply, “Logistics Analyst,” add context with, “Logistics Analyst - Distribution Engineering.

Then, write copy that’s exciting and intriguing. Your target audience should want to keep reading further. An effective position overview provides a brief, compelling description of the most important aspects of the job and should include the following elements:

  • The power statement describes the core objectives of the role. For example: “This position leads strategic planning, operational execution and continuous improvement initiatives in order to enable growth, improve customer service levels and reduce costs.”
  • A functional summary should provide a high-level overview of the department, how the role fits in with the organization, who the position reports to and the reporting relationship, key internal and external groups the role interfaces with, major projects the role will support, and any people leadership or budgetary responsibilities.
  • Key selling points explain why the applicant should want to apply and what is in it for them by joining the business. Note how this role will challenge and benefit the individual.

In the company overview, consider going beyond what can easily be found on your website. Include information about your products and services, industry expertise, annual revenue, number of employees, headquarters location, and geographical footprint. This is also an excellent place to add details about company culture, explain why your organization is a great place to work, and share employee benefits.

For the role and its responsibilities, focus on describing the top performance objectives. Generally, this would include the work and objectives that need to be completed in the first year on the job to be considered successful. Using bullet points, provide 5-10 performance objectives in order of most important to least important. From there, if you still need to add some information on roles and responsibilities, list them succinctly below the performance objectives.

This approach is valuable for hiring managers because it forces them to rank the most critical aspects of the job, which ultimately answers the question: What does success looks like in this role? It is helpful for job seekers because it provides a great understanding of challenges, expectations and how someone can thrive in the position. For recruiters, it demonstrates the most important criteria needed to effectively screen and qualify applicants, ensuring that candidates have the right experience and accomplishments in their work history.

The job requirements section then describes the minimum and preferred qualifications. Often, organizations miss the mark here by listing far too many qualifications. This quite understandably deters candidates from applying. In light of the ongoing supply chain skills shortage, err on the side of flexibility over rigor.

Next, identify the job classification, location, and any travel requirements or relocation assistance. State whether the position is exempt or non-exempt, full-time or part-time, an internship, and so forth. If travel is included, provide the estimated percentage along with frequent locations visited.

And last but definitely not least, tell candidates how to apply.

Rodney Apple is founder and president of SCMTalentGroup,a supply chain recruiting and executive search firm. He has served as the ASCM career coach since 2014 and routinely contributes supply chain career development content for members. Apple may be contacted at rapple@ scmtalent.com.

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