How to Write a Great Job Description- Top tips
You are just back from a big meeting. The company has figured out what it needs to get bigger- Hire enough skilled professionals. You have been given a huge responsibility. Sitting at your desk you try to figure out how to solve this problem. You have an idea of what the job entails. And posting job advertisements is easy. You have done it several times before. This will also guarantee dozens of resumes flooding your inbox.
But it’s not what you actually need, is it?
The question is- Among the heap of resumes received, will even one fit the stringent criteria the organization has put forth? Do your ads contain all the information crucial to attract ideal candidates? Are they brilliant enough to persuade skilled professionals to apply for the job? Does it put the spotlight on the possible growth journey of the applicant with your company? What about their mental health and wellbeing?
To answer these questions, you need to have a clear, concise, well-described and informative job listing. Or simply, an effective Job Description.
What is a Job Description?
A job description is a clear summary of a specific role’s essential duties and responsibilities at the time in the organization. Written by the employer and the department head, it also entails the experience, qualities and skills the potential employee is expected to have to qualify for the job. With a hint of marketing, an effective JD gives candidates a glimpse of the company culture as well as the perks and benefits offered to them.
How does an effective Job Description help in finding the right fit candidates?
Other than the details of the job in question, a good JD also mentions the individual’s possible career graph with the company- The skills they can learn, the learning opportunities, training and development sessions and more. This gives the applicants a fair picture of what they can grow into with XYZ organization. JDs that highlight the company culture are also winners. With the corporate power shifting to the employees, professionals today have the liberty to choose to work with the company of their choice. Money isn’t a big factor anymore. The work culture, colleagues, managers, perks, health benefits, and more are also now on the deciding scale.
In this article, we will talk about how and which aspects put together are key to present an open role to the market- Not just to attract the most number of applicants, but the best kinds of them for your organization.
With these tips and strategies, you will no longer have to run Google searches for JDs whenever you are asked to post about a vacancy. You can craft your very own, to-the-point, action-inducing Job Descriptions that will ensure professionals, whose skills you need, hit the ‘apply’ button.
How to write a good Job Description?
Refrain from experimenting with Job Titles:
“Looking for a supremely talented engineer”, “Perfectionist”, “Rockstar” and more such job title inclusions will not persuade skilled professionals to apply for the job. Why?
- Creativity is good, over flashy terms aren’t
- Job aspirants search for specific keywords that are common. And trust us, they aren’t typing “rockstar content writer”.
By integrating industry-standard language into your titles, you help your job listing appear in the search results. Step out of your company’s internal terminology if you want your organization and open job to be found.
Skip adjectives and superlatives
Complex jargons aren’t your best bets to attract candidates. Most people run away from listings that are difficult to even decipher, let alone think about fulfilling the responsibilities. Choose strong verbs to describe required skills, instead of adding adjectives that won’t add value and meaning to the JD. The candidates you seek might not relate or identify themselves with your superlative terms, stopping them from applying for the job. Use simple, clear and concise words wherever possible.
Highlight potential for advancement
Gone are the days when candidates’ only deciding factor before applying for a job was its current duties list and remuneration package. Professionals today yearn for growth. Hence, they consider work places which help them advance further and job roles that have scope for growth. Devote a short paragraph to define potential for progress- it can be any training and development programs, budget for external courses and more.
Start with a company overview
Showcasing the right image of your company can just do the trick. Begin the JD with a short yet engaging summary of the organization, its mission, and the reason it was founded. Don’t drag it beyond 4-5 sentences. Write in the way you want the world to perceive your organization. Strong inception stories often do wonders. If yours is such, write it there! You can also include the difference your company is making in society and a short introduction of the team the candidate will be working with.
Lean on gender-neutral language
Gender-biased terms may seem subtle but have the power to push women, minorities, people of colour and LGBTQ+ communities away. You want to avoid pronouns that are masculine or feminine (He/She) and choose alternatives. For example- Instead of ‘chairman’, ‘spokesman’, and ‘manpower’, you can use ‘chairperson’, ‘spokesperson’, and ‘staffing’ or ‘workers’. Some words might look harmless to you but they carry a masculine weight that the diverse communities may reject. You need the skills and talents individuals possess, ensure your sentences don’t suggest specific genders too. Choose your words wisely.
Keep it realistic and easy to digest
Over-the-top and unrealistic job descriptions that literally translate to pulling the stars from the sky will do you no good (Unless you want Neil Armstrong to apply). You are looking to invite candidates to apply for the job, not deter them from doing so. When listing the objectives of the role, include the must-have skills only and identify which ones can be learned on the job. Ensure the “required” qualifications are truly required and try to build in as much flexibility as possible. At the same time, you don’t want to inspire unqualified candidates to apply by writing a short list. Bullet point each to help candidates scan through it quickly.
Let candidates envision the impact of their work
Paint a picture of how the listed responsibilities connect to the broader success of the company. Let them know the overall impact their contributions will make. Moreover, give a purpose to your candidates as “purpose-driven” efforts often lead to success.
Make culture your superpower
It is critical for culture to be all over your job description. Things including formal/casual work culture, dress codes if any, employee perks, free food, bonuses, group outings, annual events, free gym passes, and more give the candidates a glimpse of the company and what it would be like to work there. Ensure you bring the right foot forward as any unintended or negative image lowers candidates’ expected sense of “fitting in” or belonging.
Details, details, details
Through with your JD? Looks good and has all the details? Check it again. Look for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and any punctuation mistakes that will diminish candidates’ perception of your company. Let 3-4 people read it before posting anywhere. What is missed by one might be picked by another.
Add a touch of creativity
Everyone writes regular JDs. Think out of the box if you want to attract top candidates. Recruitment videos are a great way to begin. Let all members of the specific department be a part of it. Get creative with your ideas to invite the candidates to your team.
Focus on the must-have aspects
Beyond anything, the education, experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities candidates possess ultimately become the deciding factors. You can include the minimum years of experience required to be eligible for the job too, though it isn’t recommended. Drawing a line on the work years leaves several skilled professionals out of the ideal candidate pool, even if they have all the other skills. Categorize the skills and qualifications needed to make it crisp and easy to grab.
Sell your job
Professionals have several options to choose from. You need to give them compelling reasons to choose your company over others and leave their current one. Mention the perks that your company offers. It can be extra holidays, comp offs, hybrid or WFH option, leading tech support, or others that can help you market the job and attract the best fits.
Job Description checklist
We have earlier highlighted the importance of including important details in a job description. But what are these “details” that we are talking about? Here are the must-have elements of a JD:
- Job Title
- Concerned department
- Role Overview
- Key duties and responsibilities
- Reporting manager
- Academic qualifications and previous work experience
- Other requirements (skills, etc.)
- Job location
- Company overview
- Perks and benefits
- How to apply
- Typical day at work
- Preferred candidates (for scoring brownie points)
- Compensation range
- Glimpse of the team
Job Description Dos and Don’ts
|Base the job description on the department’s needs||Base the content of the job description on the capabilities, skills, and interests of the incumbent|
|List the main skills in order of importance. This will help potential candidates to scan the list quickly and estimate their chances accordingly||Write the job description as a step-by-step guide on how to do the job|
|Keep sentence structure as simple as possible- Omit unnecessary words that do not contribute pertinent information||Include minor or occasional tasks, which are not unique to a specific job.|
|Start writing each duty or task with an action verb||Write the duties based upon the capabilities of any individual/candidate|
|Show candidates what they can achieve when they join you||Go overboard with your company overview|
|Be precise and focus on critical activities. Include 3 – 5 Key Accountabilities in the job duties section
|Use too much jargon. Avoid packing up the job description with company slang or cliché phrases|
|Highlight your company culture. Make it clear what do you stand for and what kind of people you need to grow your vision.||Make grammatical mistakes. It will make you look unprofessional|
|Make your candidate feel like you are speaking directly to him.||Write a long JD|
Job Description template: To make things easier for you, here is a downloadable format of a job description that can be edited and tailored according to the role.
Job Title: (Use keywords) Department: (Which they will be under)
Date posted: (The day you posted the listing) Reporting Manager: (Whom they will report to)
Job location: (Remote/on-site, and geographical location if WFO)
Role overview: (A brief on the role’s importance, its contribution to the overall success of the organization and what the candidates can grow into with this)
Key tasks and responsibilities: (A list of key duties)
Objectives to meet: (The results the potential employee is expected to show)
Skills required to do the job: (Abilities that are crucial for successful completion of the above tasks)
Hard skills: (Technical skills)
Soft skills: (Behavioral, communication skills)
Education and work experience: (Any previous job experience as a pre-requisite and academic profile)
Perks and benefits: (Including salary is recommended, although mentioning the perks and other bonuses including medical insurance, shares and others are good enough)
Company overview: (Get as creative as possible here and try to sell the job by highlighting the best part of working with your company, why the organization exists, its mission, vision and growth journey since inception)
Application instructions: (Where candidates can apply for the job- Walk-in interviews, a job listing portal, directly on the company website, or through emails)
Job Descriptions Examples
Do you need help writing Job Descriptions? We have handful collections of Job descriptions for you reference.
Marketing and Sales
The world is in a hiring crisis. And job descriptions are your first line of communication with highly skilled individuals who can help you stay out of it. Leverage its potential by crafting well-written JDs, which are not just effective but also easy to edit as per the changing job demands. This way, you don’t have to brainstorm for hours before writing a job description for every open role. Consider opting for job description templates by Keka. They include a set of must-have skills, bonus qualifications to be preferred over others, and examples from the top companies in the world. Edit them according to the open position with ease. Take the first step in transforming your recruitment process.
Dr. Nishat Afzal
A dentist by profession and writer by choice, Nishat is a Content Writer and Interview Host at Keka Technologies. A literature lover and a religious fan of Ruskin Bond, her magic works best in creating pieces that involve story-telling, emotional punches, facts & current affairs. If not found sewing letters together to form impactful phrases, Nishat can be seen doing RCTs, crocheting or eating to her heart's content.
Join 3500 of your HR peers and stay relevant on latest trends
Don’t miss out on the latest tips, tools, and tactics at the forefront of HR and Employee