What distinguishes a high-performing job ad from a mediocre one? Too often job ads are simply internal job descriptions with a generic paragraph about the company added.

It is much more powerful to develop a market-based job description rather than an internally focused one. Think of the internal content as the numerator of the equation, and the market context as the denominator.

Here are several ways to accomplish this:

1. Have you updated the job description in the last 18 months? The pace of change in today’s economy requires that you revisit any previous job descriptions and reflect on what has changed in the nature and specifics of the role. For example, any changes due to COVID should be reflected.

2. Is the job description written using key terms specific to the company? Don’t assume candidates will understand your jargon — many will be coming from outside your industry.

3. What is the tactical context of the job in the workflow of the organization? For example, how does your sales role interact with other functions of the company?

4. What is the strategic context of the role relative to the market? How does this job (or its functional area) connect to the strategic goals of the organization? Even back-office functions have a strategic context when analyzed from above.

5. What is the strategic pathway of the organization? Explain what the company is attempting to accomplish strategically in the marketplace. Do this even if the role is not a senior one.

This does not mean the ad should be pages long. Each of the items listed above requires only a sentence or two to give useful context to potential candidates.

Without it, yours will be just another disembodied job description among hundreds of others on the web. You will still attract the candidates who are actively job hunting, but you’ll miss a lot of the prospects who are open but still happily employed. Most important is that the ad have sparkling clarity about what it is supposed to accomplish both tactically and in the strategic context of the company’s goals.

Twin Cities executive recruiter Isaac Cheifetz can be reached through catalytic1.com.