If you want to attract the right candidate for the job, a great job description is one of the building blocks of finding the right candidate.
You want to draw the attention of the candidate without writing entire essays on the open position. You want to be to the point while providing enough detail on what the job entails.
What is a job description?
A job description is a document where you describe the responsibilities and activities for a role. The job description aims to create a clear outline of the applicants’ position and what kind of work will be performed.
A good job description will allow the candidate to determine if they have a fit for the position.
Why is a job description important?
When you are writing a job description, you want to know why it is essential. At its core, a job description helps the candidates determine if the role is something they are looking for.
Describing what the function entails attracts the right candidates for the company. Attracting the right people immediately saves time and thus money in the selection process. When you hire people who fit the company culture and perform well in one go, it saves you a lot of time.
7 steps to writing a job description:
When you are writing a job description, you know that you should outline the role and critical tasks that the job entails.
How do you exactly go about writing a job description? With these steps, you will have a written job description in no-time.
The first thing that will draw attention is the job title. A good title reflects the job’s level, the nature of the job, and the seniority of the position.
You want your job title to have targeted keywords, ensuring that more candidates find your job description online.
Try to stay away from funny or non-traditional titles like “Writing Wizard,” for example. Using a clear job title will ensure that you attract the right people for the job.
You want to attract candidates who are the right fit for the job when you write a job description. You don’t want to attract people who think the title sounds funny.
When you’re writing a job description, you should pay attention to the job summary. It will be the part of the job description that most applicants will read, making it essential to keep it to the point and concise.
In your summary, you can mention the expectations of this role and briefly introduce the company. It is essential to introduce the company because you want to convince the candidate they want to work for your company.
For improved searchability, include a location in your job summary. When you have a specific area, the job posting will list higher in local search results.
Responsibilities and duties
When you specify the responsibilities for a job, describe all the everyday tasks for the candidate.
If there are any tasks included in the function that wouldn’t typically go with that type of job or are unique to your organization, outline these too. For example, if you hire an HR employee responsible for making sure the company’s payment processes go smooth.
What could help with getting clear on the responsibilities is to describe a typical day at work. If you list all tasks and duties according to what happens during the day, the candidate will know better what to expect.
Skills are capabilities that the candidate has learned over time, either through experience or through qualifications. Be sure to display the minimum qualifications for a position. Show what the bare minimum you will accept is.
List the skills that your candidate has or doesn’t have. It can be skills like data entry, a specific programming language, or knowledge of particular systems.
Over the last couple of years, competencies are becoming more and more emphasized. Competencies are traits that the candidate has that have a positive effect on performance in the specific role.
Competencies are things like leadership qualities or the ability to work in teams.
List all the benefits
You don’t want to put the emphasis entirely on what you expect from the person reading your job description. You want to convince them to leave their current job and apply for your job.
Do this by highlighting all the benefits that are part of the job. It could be things like free lunches, a phone, specific gadgets, a dog-friendly office, or anything in between.
Also, be sure to highlight the contribution to the company. We all love the feeling of contributing to the growth or success of a company. Outlining exactly how essential the role is may help people to decide whether or not to apply.
While it is essential to have a salary indication when you are writing a job description, you don’t have to provide a specific salary in the job description.
When you are writing a job description, be sure to include a salary range. You want to leave room to vary for people with more or less education or experience.
If you can’t provide a salary range, you can fall back by saying that you offer a market-competitive salary. However, you should only say that if that is indeed the case.
If you are a big company, the chances are that candidates will check on Glassdoor or Payscale to see what they are worth.
When this is the case, why not just include the salary range in the first place. You want to gain the candidate’s trust, and be transparent is one of the best ways to do that.
Bonus: ask for the input of current employees
If you’re going to write a job description, don’t just involve the HR department. When you’ve written the job description, ask your team of current employees for input. Your current team needs to work with the new employee, so it is essential to know what they are looking for.
If your team fits together in terms of culture and work attitude, collaborating and working together on projects will become much more comfortable.
When you try and put together a fit with the team, specific skills may matter less. For example, after only two years of working experience, I was hired as a business controller because the fit with a company was there.
Their requirements didn’t specify any work experience, which usually is five years for a similar position. If they had specified five years of working experience, I probably wouldn’t have applied.
When you talk to your team, focus on the non-negotiable requirements, and think about what requirements could be learned by doing. You may attract those who have less experience but who excel in their field.
What to avoid when writing a job description?
There are some red flags for the job description. Some things should be avoided at all costs.
Many of these seem obvious, but they can be included without you noticing. Be sure to pay extra attention to these points.
Asking too much
How often do you see a job description for a low-level function that requires a minimum of five years of working experience and two degrees? I’ve seen them. Several times.
Be sure not to ask too much of your candidates. Don’t include requirements that are not essential for the job or have skills that are not crucial for the position.
When you so ask for too much, you’re not attracting the right candidates. Be realistic in what you want the candidates to know and have in terms of education and skills.
It is all over the place
When you are writing a job description, try following the steps above. You don’t have to check all the boxes or do it exactly that way, but the structure is important. Avoid being all over the place.
Many candidates will be scrolling through the job description quickly from their phone, which requires that you present it in a way that is easy to read and quick to scan.
What does this mean? Try bullet points where you think it is fit.
Preventing misinterpretation is essential when you are writing a job description. Write down a clear job description and be to the point with the requirements. Also, be clear about what you expect from the future hire in terms of non-negotiables.
What kinds of certification do they need? Are different working hours expected? It prevents you from having someone who is a perfect fit for the job, which doesn’t have the one certification you require to get started.
Last but certainly not least, avoid discrimination when you write a job description.
Bias can be present in the job description without you noticing. For example, when you ask for someone with 15 years of experience, you eliminate younger candidates that may be just as talented.
When you are looking for a police officer, you state that you are looking for a policeman. There are plenty of platforms that can help you with that.
Conclusion on writing a job description
When you write a job description, make sure that you’re not just listing dozens of tasks and responsibilities without any structure. If your job description is well written and easy to read, it will attract the right candidates for the function.
A great job description provides an understanding of what is expected when you show up on your first day of work. Plus, when you write an accurate job description, it can be a great tool to measure performance in the future.