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Why trends in job descriptions are important to job seekers

Low unemployment and high demand for skilled workers means that companies are changing the way they seek employees. This means changing job descriptions in order to attract their ideal candidate in as little time as possible.

The job description is usually the first introduction to a company that job seekers have, unless it’s a well-known global corporation like Google or Amazon. Even then, the job description should contain information that makes the company’s “ideal” candidate want to apply.

Some of the emerging trends in posted job descriptions are taking that into consideration, which is good for job seekers.


LinkedIn showed a job description to its members and asked them to highlight the areas they read that would make them more likely to apply.

They found the “salary range and benefits were far and away the most highlighted portions of the job description.”

Here’s their results:

Salary range and benefits

Job Description Content. Adapted from "This Job Description Heatmap Shows You What Candidates Really Care About (and What They Ignore)," by Gregory Lewis, June 19, 2018, retrieved from https://content.linkedin.com/content/dam/business/talent-solutions/global/en_us/blog/2018/06/J1471_HeatMap_Graphics_4.jpg.

These results are really not a surprise to most job seekers, but employers are only recently starting to take them into consideration.

Growth Opportunities

Additionally, with many workers staying in positions for shorter lengths of time, you’re likely to see growth opportunities – either a description of the career ladder for the position or additional education and training that comes with it.

Business News Daily writes:

According to a survey conducted by Robert Half and Enactus, of Generation Z workers (born between 1990 and 1999), "91 percent cited professional training as an important factor when choosing an employer." Smart professionals, not just newer workers, believe constant development is of vital importance to remain relevant in their industry, and they expect their employers to provide at least some of these learning opportunities.

 In other words, Generation Z workers are more likely to base their decision on how well a company handles training and continued education.

Performance-based job descriptions

Lastly, companies are learning that being able to check off a bunch of skills and training doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve got the right candidate. So they’re now adding information about what success in the position means.

Another name for this is “performance-based job descriptions.”

Lou Adler, CEO and founder of the Adler Group, who coined the term, says it’s “...not job descriptions at all; they’re people descriptions.”

You can recognize these types of postings because they’ll contain things you’ll “do” in the job, rather than the experience or specific skills they want in the person.

For example, here are some performance-based items you might see on an office assistant position:

  • Will proficiently create and use Excel spreadsheets
  • Will make travel arrangements for the sales team
  • Will answer phones in a professional and friendly manner
  • Will manage the sales team filing system
  • Will order and maintain all office supplies


So what does all of this mean to you as you look for a job?

When salary information is included, you can quickly eliminate jobs that are either above or below your skill level, saving you time up front so you can focus on the jobs that are a match for you.

When career ladders or growth opportunities are included, you can be sure that the position is one that will help you achieve your long-term employment goals.

And when it’s a performance-based job description, you may consider jobs outside your current industry because you can “do” all the things in the position posting.

Just remember to tailor your resume to match the job description, including examples of how you’ve performed each of the items in the job description. And then be prepared to provide more details about your actual performance in the cover letter or when you get the interview, especially if your performance saved the company time or money.

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Topics: Establishing a Career, Gaining Experience