How to Write a Killer Job Description to Reel In Financial Services Talent

June 29th, 2017 Written by: Molly Masterson

Recruiting is a lot like fishing. You bait your hook, cast a line, and hope you get a few nibbles, if not a full-on bite. But just like fishing, the waters of recruitment are filled with catches you don’t necessarily want.

Finding a good catch is a critical challenge for financial services firms and fishers alike. According to a survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), 72% of financial services CEO’s report the limited availability of skilled talent to be a threat to business growth.

So, how do you attract skilled financial professionals to your firm?

Just like fishing, attracting quality matches starts with setting an enticing lure. With nearly 50 years of experience in attracting top talent in the financial services realm, we know a thing or two about writing effective, alluring job descriptions. Below are our steps to creating an enticing job description for financial services professionals:

1. Define your perfect candidate.

Odds are, you have an employee you wish you could duplicate. While it’s not technologically possible, you can clone your high-flying employees by targeting candidates who have the same qualities and skills.

Create a profile of who your ideal candidate is using your current all-star employees as inspiration. Document the experience, education, and skill levels necessary to find success at your company, as well as what characteristics make for a good cultural fit. In financial services, you’ll likely target candidates with finance, accounting, or actuarial science degrees. In addition, attention to detail, multi-tasking, and understanding of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) may be some of the top skills you’re ideal candidate will possess.

In addition, tailor your profile to the specific position you’re looking to fill. For example, mortgage loan officers and accounting managers will need different skillsets and traits. These definitions will help you craft job descriptions that target the perfect candidate for every role.

2. Nail-down some of the basics.

Like any task you have on your docket, start with the need-to-know details. These are often the nitty-gritty aspects that candidates need before they proceed with applying. We recommend you start with the following guide:

  • Indicate the role’s department and supervisor. It’s important that candidates know where they fit into the organization and who they will be reporting to.
  • Highlight the location of the position. You don’t want to attract candidates in the wrong city, or candidates who are unwilling to move.
  • Explain the type of employment. To match up with the right candidates, list the type of employment. For example, part-time, full-time, hourly, or salaried.
  • Include contact information. If a candidate has questions or wants to apply, they need someone they can reach out to.

Keep this information detailed, but concise. You don’t want to scare candidates away by overwhelming them with intricacies.

3. Develop your job title.

The job title is the first thing candidates will notice about your job description. And there are a lot of financial services job titles to choose from. As a result, it’s critical that your job title is clear and attractive to candidates.

To capture attention and clearly outline the position, create a job title that is accurate and appealing. For example, “financial analyst” or “payroll coordinator” are clear, well known job titles. Avoid using buzzword job titles like “finance wizard” or “accounting ninja”. These titles don’t accurately describe the position along with creating confusion for candidates. In addition, certain descriptive words like ninja could be seen as gendered language, turning off some candidates.

In addition, remember that job titles are often used as search terms on online job boards, social networks and apps. Unknown and rarely-searched-for job titles can hinder your ability to reach quality candidates.

4. Outline key responsibilities.

Responsibilities are essential for understanding a job. They make it easy for candidates to imagine what a typical day is like in the role.

With this in mind, list the responsibilities for the position, including both the day-to-day and the big-picture tasks. This list should be around five to 10 responsibilities. If you include more than 10, you run the risk of overloading the job seeker.

Make your list easy to read and digest, by using bullets and action-oriented verbs. For example, “determine cost of operations” and “guide cost analysis process” are effective ways to start listing responsibilities.
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5. Create a list of must-have and nice-to-have skills and qualifications.

In the financial services industry, you need employees that possess a mix of hard and soft skills. They need to be skilled in financial planning, statistical analysis, and know their way around an Excel spreadsheet. If you fail to include these elements in your job description, you might get unqualified talent applying for the job.

Separate your desired candidate skills into must-have and nice-to-have qualifications. Years of experience, software certifications, and education level are examples of qualifications necessary to perform the role. Requested (not required) skills or qualifications might be additional degrees like an MBA, or advanced understanding of database management tools like Microsoft Access or Microsoft SQL.

6. Provide a salary range and detail benefits.

Imagine you find your perfect candidate. They’re detail-oriented, have an extensive background in finance, and have the qualifications you’re looking for. After several interviews, you can’t wait to work with them and send a job offer. Then, you find out your salary and benefits don’t meet their needs. You need to start your search all over again.

Avoid this worst-case scenario by being upfront with your candidates. You want both your expectations and the candidate’s to be matched. Detail the position’s salary and benefits within your job description so you are attracting talent you can afford. Benefits like a 401(k), paid time off, and insurance also help make your company more attractive to candidates.

7. Craft your company story to show what makes your organization unique.

Job seekers want to work for unique companies. This is especially true for the millennial workforce, who place an emphasis on company culture and values. Share your company story or unique culture within your job description to showcase what makes your organization special to work for. This is your chance to sell your company to candidates.

Avoid the temptation to copy and paste the content from your “About Us” section on your website. Your company summary should be tailored for the applicants you want to reach. It’s also a good idea to highlight your firm’s mission, value proposition and goals. This helps educate job seekers on what your company does and aims to become. The more colorful and descriptive your summary is, the more it will resonate with candidates and drive their desire to work for you.

8. Write an eye-catching summary for the top.

A job summary is all about capturing attention. It should be informative, yet intriguing. The person reading the summary on the other end should want to read more about the position and learn the finer details.

Similar to a movie trailer, leave the audience wanting more by keeping your summary short, but sweet. One to three sentences will maximize a candidate’s interest in your open position. An effective summary for a financial analyst position might be:

As a Financial Analyst with Johnson & Johnson Bank, you need an eye for data patterns, a passion for cash management, and a results-oriented mindset. Think you have what it takes?

9. Piece it all together.

How you organize your job description influences who will stick around to read it. We recommend placing your attention-getting information upfront and leaving the basic details for the end. Here’s a potential top-to-bottom framework to consider using:

  1. Job title and summary. These elements capture applicant attention and set the stage for what’s coming next.
  2. Company summary. While many may leave the “About Us” information for the end, try bringing it up higher to excite candidates about your company culture and values, and encourage them to keep reading.
  3. Job responsibilities. Consider briefly describing a day in the role so candidates can decide if the position is a good fit for them.
  4. Must-have qualifications. Start weeding out candidates who don’t have the required financial services acumen.
  5. Nice-to-have qualifications. Highlight the qualifications that your ideal candidate would possess.
  6. Salary range and benefits. Align your expectations with your potential candidate’s.
  7. Share the basics. Make sure your applicants know where the position is located and how they fit into your organization.

Start Driving In Quality Applicants

Crafting a job description that attracts qualified financial services professionals can be tricky. But following the above nine steps provides a formula for finding the best financial talent possible.

Want more tips on finding quality job candidates? Check out these 7 tips for finding talented job candidates for your next hire.

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