How to Write a Job Description

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How to Write a Job Description

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Pen and paper

A job description summarizes the important functions of a position and the requirements or qualifications needed to succeed. It is a tool used by both HR and division managers to clarify a role that is filled and the duties under that role. Job descriptions can be used as a guide for succession planning, learning and development, performance reviews and salary administration. For the employee, a well-written job description is a roadmap that can be used to navigate a new position. They can look at a job description and understand exactly what is expected.

One of the keys to successfully filling an open position is writing a job description that will both convey everything a potential candidate needs to know about the company and position, as well as attract quality applicants. Below are a few things to keep in mind to help you write a job description that is customized, compelling and effective.

Accuracy

A job description needs to accurately convey the responsibilities and duties of the position. This means that you should have a clear picture of what the job entails, and translate the action items into the job description. Do not over or undersell a position, which could cause dissatisfaction once a new hire realizes the job description wasn’t accurate. For example, don’t say an employee will be visiting stores when he or she will mainly be working on data entry at a desk. Likewise, don’t say an employee will only perform data entry when the job requires multiple store visits a week. Different jobs attract different people, and an accurate job description will help attract people whose behaviors suit the position.

Job description accuracy also relates to the qualifications, abilities, knowledge and skills needed to fill a position successfully. Be clear about what will be expected of them, and list out both crucial and preferred skills so your potential candidates know whether they are qualified for a job. Accuracy is vital here because if you ask for unnecessary skills, you could deter perfectly qualified candidates. If you ask for too little skills, you will get underqualified candidates.

Clarity

Make sure your job descriptions are clear pictures of the position. Begin by analyzing the job, and then summarize it so candidates understand exactly what the job entails. Define what, why and how an employee will do said job. This means clarifying the individual duties and tasks, the purpose and overarching goals the job contributes to, and what methods, tools and techniques are necessary to do the job.

Depth

In addition to being clear and accurate, a job description must also be detailed. The voice of a job description is a key point in attracting the right candidates. Make sure your job description has a compelling personality to it and conveys the company culture.

A job description should also go as far as to describe personal requirements expected from the employee, include job title, who the employee will report to and any educational requirements. Include desired experience, specialized skills, benefits and a salary range for your potential job candidates to evaluate.

Compliance

Once you have a job description drafted, have it looked over by an employment lawyer or HR consultant. Job descriptions are typically regarded as a legal document that can be referred to in disputes or arguments. Make sure you eliminate references to race, religion, age, sex, national origin or mental disability to avoid discrimination.

Revisions

Jobs change and evolve constantly, and when it happens you should evaluate whether it’s time to revise a job description. A job description you used to hire a brand manager two years ago may not be accurate when hiring a brand manager today. Work with the employee who knows the position best (whether he or she is a current employee, or leaving the company) to formulate the most accurate job description for his or her current role.

Job descriptions are an important part of the recruitment and retention process. It’s a concrete list of responsibilities, capabilities and expectations that provides a clear roadmap for employees and managers moving forward. It’s an important step towards finding the right person for both company fit and job capabilities. Write a job description that is accurate and compelling in order to attract top talent.


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