Getting Your Job Description Right

Constructing a compelling job description is essential if you want to attract the most qualified candidates for your role. It is much more than a list of responsibilities and tasks. When well written, it is a marketing document that sells your company to the best talent on the market. It is also a tool for performance measurement and shapes the perception of the role in the candidate’s mind.

While particularly useful in recruiting new employees, a job description also has an ongoing purpose throughout the employment lifecycle, so it pays to spend some time getting it right from the outset

WHAT IS A JOB DESCRIPTION USED FOR?

A job description is a glimpse in to your companies shop window – defining the role and the company itself. It also does the following:

  • Candidate Attraction – Attracting a response from an internal or external applicant for the job.
  • Role Definition – Details the key responsibilities and expected competencies of a role
  • Management Reference – To understand the scope and level of responsibility expected of the role. 

HOW LONG SHOULD IT BE?

A well written job description needs to give all the required information but still be short and concise. For reference, the job site Indeed reports that ‘job descriptions between 700 and 2,000 characters get up to 30% more applications than those with larger character counts’.

WHAT KEY THINGS DOES IT INCLUDE?

  • Company Name
  • Job Title
  • 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.
  • 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.

USE THE RIGHT JOB TITLE

Always ask yourself ‘If i was looking for this job, what would i type into the search bar’?

Whilst creative job titles can be fun and indicative of a more laid back culture, they create the risk of being missed by potential candidates who are searching for the same job under a different name. Moreover, people search for roles that match their skills and experience, and so, using terms like ‘ninja’ and ‘rock-star’ in job titles and descriptions can confuse job seekers and put them off from applying.

JOB SUMMARY

Always start with a short, engaging overview of the role. It should be one to four sentences long and can include the following:

  • A descriptions of the roles major function
  • How the role contributes to the wider company objectives
  • An overview of the company/ brand and what makes it unique
  • A brief look into the companies culture and why a candidate would want to work for you
  • The exact job location

TIP: Using invitational language, such as ‘Come join a creative team of … dedicated to …” is particularly effective in this section.

RESPONSIBILITIES AND DUTIES

Describe the key job functions in five to seven bullets.

Highlight the day-to-day activities of the position but avoid long boring descriptions of every single task. You also can group two to three bullets under larger categories, such as “Technical Skills,” “Management Skills,” “Communication,” etc.

You also need to specify how the position fits into the organization, who the job reports to and how the person will function within your organisation

TIP: Avoid using language that describes a singular focus on a narrow set of abilities, such as “perfectionists” . You risk turning off highly qualified talent that could excel in the role without these traits, or that doesn’t self-identify with these terms

QUALIFICATIONS AND SKILLS

Keep it concise, including too many qualifications and skills could dissuade potential candidates.

  • Education
  • Previous employment experience
  • Certification and technical skills

TIP: Use a mix of both hard and soft skills. Including skills such as communication and problem solving, as well as personality traits that you envision for a successful hire.

MISTAKES TO AVOID

INTERNAL TERMINOLOGY

Job descriptions need to be understood by candidates external to your organisation. The use of internal terminology will exclude the very people that you wish to attract.

STAKEHOLDER INVOLVEMENT

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.

UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

Be realistic in your expectations. A job description should accurately represent the skills that are required to be successful in the role. It is not a wish list of every skill that may be useful.

DISCRIMINATORY LANGUAGE

The use of certain words or phases in a job description can be construed as discriminatory. It can also limit the diverse applicant group that employees should strive for. If unsure, view the government advice HERE

REVIEW

Job descriptions should reflect the fact that organisations are constantly evolving. They should therefore, be reviewed, ideally annually, and amended as appropriate.

JOB DESCRIPTION TEMPLATES

Job Description Template 1 Job Description Template 2 Job Description Template 3

Further Reading

Recruitment Process Checklist

Narrowing Down Your Candidate Pool

10 Things You Need to Ask Your Recruitment Agency

To learn whether we are the right agency for you see Why Employers Choose Copeland if you’re ready to talk get in touch: e: [email protected] T: 07973 286342

Let Copeland help you find the right people for your business

Sign up for our salary guide, advice, jobs & more Sign up now