5 Ways to Tweak Your Job Descriptions to Attract Gen Y and Gen Z Talents

By Dean Mathews, OnTheClock - October 07, 2020

Generation Y and Generation Z talents are quickly filling up future workforces. 

How can you write better job descriptions to attract the new generation of employees to bolster your organization?

What Gen Y and Gen Z Candidates Look for in Companies

The new generation of candidates prioritizes different factors in companies compared to job seekers of one or two decades back. Primarily, they are looking to do meaningful work even if it means making compromises. 9 out of 10 candidates were happy to lower their salaries in return for exciting and more impactful work.

Gen Y and Gen Z candidates also treasure good communication. They prefer companies with open spaces and flat hierarchies where they can talk to anyone without feeling restricted. 72% of Gen Z employees prefer face-to-face talks over any other form of communication.

They also tend to divert towards tech-driven companies. This doesn’t mean you have to be the next Google or Facebook. Instead, companies that use tech as an enabler for success will find it easier to attract and retain top talents.

Why You Need to Revamp Your JDs

Imagine yourself as a candidate. You come across three job postings while researching your next role. One has a generic, blatantly copy-pasted job outline. The other reads like an encyclopedia. And the third is engaging, uniqueand with clear explanations about the job and the company culture. 

Which one would you apply for? 

The latter is a no-brainer.

This is why your job descriptions must be on point. They matter a lot to candidates. They give serious candidates more information to help them decide whether they’re a good fit. It’s also one of the biggest contributors to whether they apply for your job or not. A small company with a good job description will attract top talents even if they lack the reputation or resources of bigger organizations.

The opposite is just as true. Subpar job descriptions not only hamper your talent search, but you might also spend time on the wrong Gen Y and Gen Z candidates. It takes 90 days to know if an employee is a bad fit for an organization. By then, you’d have to rehire again to fill the gap, which significantly eats into your margins.

These two reasons alone justify the need to revamp your job descriptions to cater to future workforces. Here’s how to do it.

5 Ways to Tweak Your JDs to Attract Gen Y and Gen Z Talents

1. Talk About Your Company

Think of job descriptions as an opportunity for you to show off your company. Talking about how your company is the leader in this or that is a good start. However, it’s much better to talk about your company’s culture and beliefs.

Your job description is the perfect place for you to explain your culture to convince top talents. It’s not necessary to write a Pulitzer-winning essay on the topic. 

A few lines of your company’s core values is good enough to get candidates interested. If you believe in inclusion, for example, mention it in your job description and explain why your company feels that way. You can even include your company’s ambition for the future.

Here’s an example from Slack’s career page:

Slack Value Proposition

Pay attention to Slack’s emphasis on their values. It also acts as a soft filter to attract candidates that thrive in the company’s culture. 

Make sure you practice the values you preach, however. An overly-exaggerated job description is a surefire way to make employees leave and land yourself an unpleasant Glassdoor review.

2. Clearly Explain Responsibilities

Nothing turns off candidates more than unclear job responsibilities. Take a look at the example below:

Unclear job responsibilities

What are the responsibilities of the job? Who are the stakeholders of the job? What software will the candidate work with? These are just a few of many unanswered questions—all of them stemming from a vague, almost meaningless job description.

A good responsibilities list covers three aspects:

  • It is clear and straight to the point.
  • It explains what the potential employee will do (read: no hidden or unexpected tasks).
  • It includes keywords or industry lingo that help candidates understand the job better.

Take a look at what Airbnb did in its job opening for a manager.

Airbnb Job Responsibilities

Each point is straightforward in terms of what is expected of the role. The list also explains each responsibility in detail without being too much of a drag. More importantly, the job description mentions keywords relevant to the position. 

These, again, act as pre-screens since candidates are likely to steer clear of job openings they’re not qualified enough for.

3. Mention Work Hours and Benefits

Gen Y and Gen Z candidates seek work-life balance in their careers. This does not mean they want to work as little as possible. Instead, they prefer companies with an established working hours policy. It’s a bonus if your company provides flextime arrangements or remote work. 79% of millennials say flexible working is a top priority when job seeking. 

However, these benefits don’t matter if you don’t list them in your job description. Candidates will look at your job post and pass it on, thinking you’re just another company that overloads employees with work.

You can address this issue by including your company’s working hours. Be honest here. If the job expects candidates to work longer during crunch times, write it down. You can even explain how your company tracks working hours to ensure everyone is paid accurately. This will address candidates’ concern of working long hours with no incentive in return.

You should also include your company benefits in your job description. You can list down benefits like:

  • Vacation and/or paid time off policy
  • Overtime pay
  • Personal and/or family insurance
  • Free meals
  • Claims

… and so on. 

The more benefits you list, the more likely it is that top talents will apply for your opening. Again, make sure to include only benefits that exist in the company. It’s illegal to ignore benefits promised in employee contracts, not to mention the possibility of hefty lawsuits.

4. Disclose Compensation Details

Salaries used to be a touchy topic in the past—not anymore. Today, employers are expected to disclose compensation details if they want to attract top talents. 

This is good for two reasons. One, you attract the best candidates. Let’s say your salary range is above average. Highly-qualified candidates who know their worth will prioritize your opening and do their best to land the job. It’s not a coincidence that higher-paid employees perform better on average.

Next, you spend less time hiring which saves a lot of resources. The risk of candidates turning down a job offer is high when you don’t disclose compensation details. They might receive a salary that is below their expectations. They might even receive a better offer from another company.

When this happens, your company needs to go through the hiring cycle again. Hiring is not cheap. Companies spend 42 days and $4,129 on average to hire one employee. That is without factoring in the cost of onboarding or rehiring for employees that don’t fit the company. Hiring costs are also higher in industries like law and accounting, where professionals come at a premium.

You don’t have to write down the exact salary in your job description. A range (e.g. $50,000 - $65,000) is good enough to give candidates an idea of their potential income. You should also include bonuses or other factors that contribute to the employee’s pay.

5. Be Reasonable with Education and Experience Requirements

Recruiters and companies alike have a bad rep for having unrealistic requirements. Some companies want candidates with over 5 years of experience for an ‘entry-level’ job. The worse is when companies list down requirements that don’t make any sense, like the one below:

Unreasonable experience job posting

Be reasonable with your education and experience requirements. If you’re looking for junior staff, don’t list requirements that fit better for veteran candidates. The opposite is true as well for senior-level openings. Don’t play down your requirements for critical roles like a CTO or a vice-president, for example. 

The key here is to align your requirements with your job responsibilities. Entry-level team members are not (and should not) expected to work on high-level tasks. They can contribute, but they’re not the ones driving the business to success. In this case, you only need candidates with 1 to 2 years of experience to do their job well. You can even take on fresh graduates if they have the passion to learn and grow.

You can use the table below as a reference point to help you gauge employee requirements.

Employee requirements table

The recommended years of experience for each employee level (Image Source)

Don’t worry too much about attracting the wrong candidates. You can filter applicants during later stages. What you don’t want is to miss out on talented individuals because they don’t meet your inflated requirements.

Your JD Matters in Attracting the Top Talents of Tomorrow

Gen Y and Gen Z candidates don’t look at job openings the same way as the previous generation of candidates. It is your job to tweak your job descriptions to attract these young talents to your company.

Follow the tips mentioned above and you will improve your hiring results for tomorrow’s workforce in no time.

Author Bio

Dean Mathews is the founder and CEO of OnTheClock, an employee time tracking app that helps over 10,000 companies all around the world track time. 

Dean has over 20 years of experience designing and developing business apps. He views software development as a form of art. If the artist creates a masterpiece, many people’s lives are touched and changed for the better. 

When he is not perfecting time tracking, Dean enjoys expanding his faith, spending time with family, friends and finding ways to make the world just a little better. 


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