Why We Don’t Write Job Descriptions


The scarcity of talent currently extends through all levels of an organization. As a result, the amount of executive-level positions far exceeds the number of available candidates. This situation has created a candidate-driven job market, making it essential for companies to respond in effective, new ways to attract new talent. 

Understanding that candidates are in the position to choose a company that meets all of their needs, modern tools and a new approach are needed to attract senior management. Avoiding a lengthy recruitment process and unmet candidate needs is essential, as losing out on a preferred candidate or a failed hire is a substantial setback for companies.

Key Search is the executive search partner for companies seeking to attract the best leadership talent by creating a successful executive recruitment strategy. Read on for a deep dive into the process and find out why a job description is not part of it.


What's in a Job Description – a Closer Look

What does it take to attract the best talent? Is understanding how to write a job description the answer to attracting the perfect candidate for a leadership role? After all, a job description, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, is simply “a list of tasks and responsibilities involved in a job”. Yet record-high numbers of unfilled positions and the global search for leadership talent tell a different story. 

Successful postings will be comprehensive, specific and clear. They will lay out expectations, purpose and details about the company culture […] and can create initial impressions about the business among job seekers

Source: Forbes


Why Write a Job Description? And Why Not.

As a first touch point between candidates and company, the job description can create first impressions. It gives insight into a role and the company for a potential employee, who may stay for a long time. Taking the time to ensure the accuracy of a job description including the scope of the role, various hiring criteria, as well as the long term vision of the company, creates a first impression. Research shows that the top considerations for applicants span a broad range of topics that should be covered in a job description.

  • Work-life balance and salary (73%)

  • Flexible work options (69%)

  • Work schedule (67%)

  • Meaningful work (55%)

But is a job posting all that's needed to attract top talent for your startup or company?

It’s a phenomenon across markets and positions – a well-written job posting does not mean that your company will receive applications from suitable candidates. 

Job descriptions are generally structured into three sections that fit on one page. They give a first, high-level introduction to the company, the job, and the required skills

Does this give you everything you need to make a well-informed decision? Does it get your heart pumping? Does it help you prepare well for interviews? Not likely. Starting the successful search for great talent across industries needs an approach that goes beyond the rough outline of a job description.

Beyond the Job Description

“A job description simply describes a job. We are not looking for seats to be filled, we help companies achieve a broader mission in their fields,” Key Search Founder Franziska Palumbo-Seidel explains. “Many of our clients are fast-growth scale-ups with a distinct purpose to disrupt their industries. A job description would change every 6 months and simply would not hold up to the fast-changing market.”

As a result, the Key Search approach to talent acquisition is different from traditional recruitment that use job descriptions on job boards in hopes of the right candidate may read and respond. This approach is built on the belief that the better the job pitch of the opportunity, the better the candidates you attract for the role.

Providing in-depth information about the company, their industry and job tasks very early on provide full transparency to the candidate very early on in the process. Comprehensive and in-depth information are what sets Candidate Briefing Documents apart from a job description. 

Key Search Candidate Briefing - the Approach

Within a candidate-driven market, a unique approach helps to stand out, be remembered by candidates and clients alike, and attract the best candidates possible. Providing the best possible in-depth overview of the opportunity, Key Search speaks to their client and all stakeholders involved in the process to develop a comprehensive and insightful overview of the job opportunity and the company – the candidate briefing deck.

Key Search Candidate Briefing - What's in it for Candidates

Within a heavily competitive market, reaching out with the right message together with in-depth information on the position and the company saves everyone’s time and helps candidates feel well informed.

“You want to have as much information, packaged as compactly as possible, as fast as you can to make a decision if you want to move forward or not. We know that and that’s how we work,” Delano Brand, Director at Key Search, summarizes.

The candidate briefing document is set up to suit the needs of busy candidates. It provides fast, digital access to all information with one click, packaged in a modern design. Filled with well-researched details, it outlines the company’s vision and mission, what they want to achieve with this role and the impact the candidate can have on the company’s growth. For executive roles, key performance figures, financial growth and the pitch deck are included as well.

The personal contact between the candidate and the consultant is at the core of every Key Search executive search. By introducing the consultant that specializes in the candidate’s industry as part of the candidate briefing document, Key Search stands out and connects.

Key Search Candidate Briefing - What's in it for Companies

Companies turn to Key Search to find the best talent for their leadership roles. By working together, Key Search becomes an extension of the client, selling the company, the job, as well as Key Search and the consultant to potential candidates that are approached individually. 

“We are not looking for applicants but people that are excited about the growth opportunities for our clients”, Franziska Palumbo-Seidel explains. “We seek out real change agents that get excited about disrupting an industry rather than just doing a 9-5 job. We proactively reach out to these people for our clients because of their achievements and mindsets.”

“At Key Search, we are building the best candidate briefing documents on the market. We get so much good feedback on them from our clients”, says Palumbo-Seidel. Shedding more light on the unique process at her company, she continues: “We are pitching companies to candidates. We approach candidates who aren’t actively looking for a new job and we pitch the company and the position to them.”

Exploring Candidate Briefing Documents

Combining a digital, standardized document structure with in-depth information in a unique and personal approach is the key differentiator at Key Search. Evolving from there, the candidate briefing documents get shaped by the Key Search consultants. 

Highlighting why job descriptions fall short when it comes to attracting the best talent, Weronika Oesterreicher, Director at Key Search, points out that “there is no successful one-size-fits-all approach. All candidates resonate with our briefing documents, but everyone has different drivers.” For some, the impact their role has is essential, some are convinced by the good package, others again are attracted to creativity and the chance to develop new products. In collaboration with their clients, Key Search takes candidate needs into consideration, redefining and adjusting throughout the process.

The examples below outline the Key Search Candidate Briefing Documents used for their tailored approach to executive search.    


To help leaders take the next step in their career, Key Search provides each of them with personalized digital documents, the baseline of their customized approach for every candidate. This has proven to be extremely successful. The entire executive search concept at Key Search, from initial research to a signed contract, is different from traditional recruitment via job postings.

At Key Search Tailored Talent Acquisition Replaces Job Descriptions

“Great leaders don’t apply, they get found.” 

Key Search is constantly challenging the status quo and envisioning the future, just like the companies and clients they work with. Experienced recruiters, researchers, and exclusive in-house insight tools offer clients the most transparent, tech-enabled executive search process available today.  It’s a concept that has proven successful: In their first year alone, Key Search has placed 40 senior leadership roles and worked with 60 organizations across Europe.

Through digital tools and progressive techniques Key Search’s highly adaptive, digital approach to leadership recruitment is a match for every innovative client. The Key Search client testimonials speak for themselves. 

About the Author