How to write an effective job description

When businesses are recruiting they usually have an immediate or impending need for someone to join their team, and therefore want the recruitment process to be quick and effective.

To achieve this, you really need to know what it is you’re looking for and you need to articulate it really clearly in your job description. You need to eliminate as much ambiguity as you can and really target what you’re looking for or need the role to deliver.

If you get your job description as accurate as possible, you should attract the right kind of applicants and save yourself time in the long run. Having a clearly defined role will also help prospective applicants get a feel for your business.

The five main things to achieve when writing a job description:

  1. Employer of choice – you need to paint a picture of your business; who you are, what you do, how and where you work. Also details of the benefits and package available. You need to be an attractive proposition to get the interest of top talent.
  2. Candidate attraction – you need to clearly explain the type of person you are looking for and what experience, qualifications and track record you require them to have. You also need to be clear about the office location or area the role will cover.
  3. Role definition – you need to clearly explain the full scope of the role; reporting lines, team management, and day to day activities, targets and deliverables.
  4. Role expectations – you need to be clear about the level of responsibility the role will have and if the person will need to hit the ground running or if training for certain things will be provided. If the role is managing people, this will need to be clearly explained as well. You need to outline what the key deliverables of the role will be.
  5. Recruitment process expectations – you need to be open about your position; do you need someone to start immediately, are you looking to hold interviews between certain dates? Are you looking for the right person and can be flexible about interview times?  With available talent being in short supply, you need to ‘set your stall out’ early on.

Four things to avoid when writing a job description:

  • Using internal jargon/terminology – industry-wide terms are acceptable but you need to avoid any terms, names or phrases that are specific to your company.
  • Being unrealistic – don’t use a job description as a wish list of everything your business area needs. Focus on what is achievable and realistic for one person to achieve and to have done in the past. Think about the actual amount of experience you require someone to have and don’t just default to a ‘minimum of 5 years’.
  • Discrimination – your job specification needs to be inclusive and not in any way discriminatory. You can get some guidance here:
  • Being vague or too high level – if you know you need a new team member because your business can’t cope with the current level of work, but you haven’t fully bottomed out exactly what you need doing – you’re not yet ready to recruit. If you try and recruit with a vague, ‘we need a bit of this and bit of that’ type of role, you will get a very varied list of applicants and probably not what you really need. Save yourself, and potential applicants, time by getting your job description as tight as possible.

The important things to think about when writing a job description:

Break your job description into clearly defined sections to make it quick and easy for a prospective applicant to read, this could be as simple as:

  • About us
  • Who we’re looking for
  • The role
  • Expectations and deliverables
  • Reporting lines
  • Our recruitment process/next steps

Keep your sentences short and to the point. Don’t use terms, phrases and sentences that you think should be a job description. Write as one person to another, as if you were having a conversation face to face with an applicant. It will make it more human and appealing. This will also help to set the tone about the culture and identity of your business.

You need to engage the business when pulling together a job description. Who will the person’s manager be, and if they have direct reports, speak to them about the role, deliverables and expectations? If you are the manager, speak to your HR contact about their expectations/requirements.

Taking the time to create a detailed, realistic and accurate job description is invaluable for effective recruitment.

We can help you with this process, don’t ever feel like you are struggling to work out your requirements or having ‘writer’s block’ pulling together a job description. Get in touch: [email protected]

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We recruit throughout the East Midlands covering Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Rutland and the surrounding areas, especially Market Harborough, Lutterworth, Leicester, Corby and Kettering. We help people find their perfect job and match suitable job seekers with businesses looking to hire the best candidates across our five specialisms – SalesMarketingAccountancy & FinanceHR and Office