How to write an effective job description
Without doubt brain storming a job, its responsibilities, the skills and attributes the role demands, as well as how it can develop and writing it down in the form of a job description helps to clarify what you are looking for. During the recruitment process, you have a better chance of attracting top talent if there is a documented account of the role. Isn’t it impressive for top talent to be meeting with a company who has taken the time to define who they wanted to recruit?
While particularly useful in recruiting new employees, a job description can have an on-going use throughout the career of your employee, their colleagues and manager so it pays to get it right from the start.
The four main purposes of a job description are:
- Candidate attraction – to describe the role, required record of accomplishment of a potentially suitable candidate, the role developmental possibilities, with the aim of attracting a response from an internal or external superstar. Equally, an accurate job description can be used to brief recruitment companies and write advertisements.
- To generate referrals – your existing network of employees, clients, suppliers and family will know superstars. A concise job description covering the areas listed above will allow you to tap into their network.
- Role definition – for the individual performing the role to have a reference point for their responsibilities and required level of performance. Whilst this is important on a day-to‐day basis, it is especially useful at appraisal time or when a promotion is being considered.
- Management reference – particularly for a new manager, to understand the scope and level of responsibility expected of the role so that they can properly utilise and maximise their resources.
So what should an excellent job description contain?
- Title of the job
- Where the role sits within the team, department and wider business
- Who the role reports to, and other key interactions
- Key areas of responsibility and the deliverables expected
- Short, medium and long-term objectives
- Scope for progression and promotion
- Required education and training
- Soft skills and personality traits necessary to excel
- Location and travel requirements
- Remuneration range and benefits available
- Convey the organisation’s culture and identity
Five mistakes to avoid when creating an effective job description
- Using internal terminology: your CRM database may be known company-wide as ‘Knowledge‐bank’, but requiring Knowledge-bank implementation proficiency on a job description will mean little to external candidates. Stick to well-recognised requirements to appeal to the widest possible audience.
- Not involving all stakeholders: the most accurate specifications are produced with the involvement of several different business areas. When defining or refining what a role entails, do so with the input of HR, line management and employees in a similar function.
- Being unrealistic: a job description should be an accurate representation of the record of accomplishment required to perform the role, not an impossible wish list of every skill that may come in useful.
- Using discriminatory language: although frequently inadvertent, the use of certain words and phrases in a job description can be construed as discriminatory and limit the diverse applicant group that organisations strive for. Check out the legal requirement on the Business Link website.
- Not regularly reviewing: organisations are constantly evolving, so for job descriptions to reflect changing requirements they should reviewed, ideally annually, and amended as appropriate.
Taking the time to construct an accurate job description can be invaluable to the on-‐going attraction, hiring and retention of star employees.