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Talent Talk: How to Write a Job Description That Attracts Millennials

If today’s typical job description were a telephone, it would be hanging on the wall with a big round dial and 10 holes in it numbered from 1 to 0. If you want to attract millennials, write a job description that’s more like a smartphone.

In last week's Talent Talk column, we talked about how to assess your company’s Millennial Score. Armed with that knowledge, the next step is to look at your job descriptions through a different lens.

If today’s typical job description were a telephone, it would be hanging on the wall with a big round dial and 10 holes in it numbered from 1 to 0. The baby boomers in the workforce — those currently over the age of 56 — could still use this old rotary phone and do not have any problem with these analogous job descriptions. But if you want to attract millennials, it’s time to write a job description that’s more like a smartphone. Think of these potential candidates as your customers and, just as you would with any other marketing material, write the job description with them in mind.

To illustrate this, here are a few samples from “old school” job descriptions and some suggestions on how you could re-write them with your millennial candidate/customer in mind. What follows is paraphrased closely from some of the top results off a leading job site search for “injection molding engineer.”

 

Old school: Our company, a custom injection molder serving the ___ and ___ industries, is seeking an experienced and highly motivated individual for the following position in our molding division.

New school: We offer a competitive salary and benefits package with a very friendly and relaxed work environment. We have just moved into our new facility located ____. It is an exciting time to join ____. We are growing and moving into new products and markets and require an enthusiastic and dedicated teammate to help us realize these strategic goals. Come and see what ____ has to offer you and your future!

 

Old school: The successful candidate will be a “self-motivated” individual who has a minimum of three to five years’ experience in a ____ environment or a bachelor’s degree in plastics engineering. (Yes, they actually used quotation marks for some reason.)

New school: We are smart, interesting, and sometimes quirky people solving problems big and small. We are seeking creative, curious, and intelligent people to join our ranks. Our company was founded on the power of a good idea. And we know that good ideas can only come from people. Because of this, we believe that self-managed people are our greatest resource, and pride ourselves on our outstanding culture to support them.

 

Old school: Client is seeking qualified senior product engineers for its headquarters in ____. This position will report to the Engineering Director. This is an engineering position requiring independent decision making, project management, and leadership. Senior engineers perform tasks or analyses of a complex nature and may coach or direct the work of less-experienced engineers or technicians.

New school: We are working with some of the world’s largest companies, helping them solve problems, create efficiencies, and grow the economy. As a ____ employee, you get to be on the ground level of innovation — producing new products, leading testing and rapid iteration, and propelling new technologies to the next level.

 

To make room for the cool, interesting, attractive things you are going to say about your company and the opportunity, you can delete all of the following if they currently appear on your job description:

  • Detail oriented, excellent communication skills (both written and verbal)
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Office products
  • Ability to work as part of a team (even if your teams are cross-functional or multi-disciplinary)
  • Self-motivated, driven, enthusiastic, multi-tasker, yada, yada, yada
  • An unwavering commitment to safety
  • A positive attitude

Just to be clear: I am not saying these things are not important, but the desired outcome of your job ad is to attract potential candidates. No one thinks they don’t have good communication skills or work well within teams, so it doesn’t further your objective.

Now that we’ve attracted the millennials and have gotten some interest, part three of this series will focus on the interview process.

About the author

Paul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for this blog, e-mail Sturgeon at paul@klaindustries.com.

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