A job description, also known as a JD, job spec or job specification, usually starts as a recruitment tool but its purpose and use continues throughout the employment lifecycle. When written well, a good job description will be useful for inducting and onboarding new employees, managing performance and expectations and employee development and succession planning, as well as recruiting the right people into your business. But how do you write a good one?
Writing a job description
A job description should provide information around the type of work that an individual will do when joining your organisation for a specific role. It should summarise the skills, experience, responsibilities, and qualifications necessary to succeed in the role in question. You need to provide enough information for potential candidates to determine whether they have the skillset required but avoid providing too much information that potential candidates are put off. There’s a fine line between not providing not enough information so that candidates are unclear on what the role involves and too much information so that the reader loses interest. Remember that a job description is a candidate attraction tool and with the vast number of jobs being advertised across the UK on a daily basis, it’s important that you can make your role stand out.
Structuring a job description is easier if you split the document into the following sections:
Start with the Job title and remember that Job titles should be accurate and as concise as possible. Research shows that using too many words in a job title is confusing and likely to dissuade potential candidates from reading any further.
The summary is the first part of the job description that the reader will read so it plays a crucial role in encouraging the reader to engage and read more. The summary should provide a brief overview of the organisation, what does the business do, what’s the culture like, do you have a mission statement or a set of company values etc., as well as a short description of the position. The summary should also include where the role will be based, whether its full time, part time and whether its permanent or a fixed term or contract role.
Responsibilities and duties
Here you need to outline the core responsibilities associated with the position and day to day tasks that the role will include. The key is to try to provide as much detail as possible in as concise a way as possible. This section should be laid out in bullet point format as this will aid clarity and readability. Try to describe each task in a clear and concise manner as a potential candidate will use this section to visualize what the role with involve. Try to only include the key tasks that the role will be responsible for, listing every task that a job holder may encounter is not helpful and could seem overwhelming or even unachievable to the reader. Avoid using internal jargon that the candidate is unlikely to understand. Its also helpful here to add a brief description of who the role reports into and how it fits into the wider business.
Qualifications and skills required
This section should be used to specify the education, qualifications and/or work experience required to be successful in the role. Keep this realistic, does that candidate really need a particular level of education to be successful in the role? Don’t forget that all candidate’s will need to learn the culture and individual nuances of your organisation, regardless of their previous work history and experience. As well as harder skills such as qualifications and experience, this section should also be used to list the soft skills that would aid success in the role. This could be skills such as the ability to problem solve, attention to detail or good communication skills. To aid clarity its helpful to list these in order of importance with the harder more technical skills at the top and the soft skills lower down. Be concise and try to limit this section to no more than 10 bullet points.
Use this section to list out the company benefits your organisation offers. Why should this candidate come and work for you? This section should include things like bonus schemes, private healthcare, holiday entitlement etc., as well as more company specific factors such as early finishes on a Friday or development opportunities. Mentioning potential career paths or a culture of developing staff will show that you’re offering longevity and security, which most candidates will be looking for. Its also worth mentioning options like hybrid/work from home or flexible working if your organisation offers these things.
If the job description is being used as a recruitment tool, is always a good idea to include a salary range. This will allow candidates to determine if the salary level your offering is right for them. You should ensure all salaries are benchmarked and are competitive with the market in which your organisation operates.
Once the job description is created and you have an employee in post, its always a good idea to review the document regularly. All jobs evolve over time and business needs change so ensure that the document is reviewed and amended at regular intervals (ideally annually) in line with changing organisation requirements and natural progression.
When written well, a job description can be an invaluable tool that will help you recruit the right people into your business, giving them a clear idea of the job they are applying for. Once an employee has been sourced, the job description will assist with onboarding and induction as well as providing a new starter with the clarity they need to perform well in the role. In addition to recruitment and onboarding, a clear and regularly reviewed job description has uses across the employee life cycle and can assist across a range of areas such as retention, succession planning, employee development, objective setting and appraisals as well as performance management. Its therefore essential to ensure your job descriptions are clear, well-written and sell your business as well as the post in question.
If you would like some help formulating clear and effective job descriptions or you need assistance across recruitment more broadly, HR Overload are here to help. Why not get in touch and see how we can assist your business. Contact email@example.com for more information.