7 tips for creating the perfect job description
Job descriptions are essential for both practical and legal reasons. Unfortunately, recruiters often fail to allocate enough time to writing them because they are unsure of what the position requires.
In this article, we'll cover the best ways to ensure you have everything you need to write great job descriptions, by going through a few good practices and handy tips.
Why are job descriptions important?
Job descriptions are often overlooked or left to the last minute. However, there are many reasons why they are essential. For instance, they can be used:
- As a way to filter by skills: Many jobs require applicants to have a certain range of skills or abilities. A good job description can help them decide whether they are a good fit for the role.
- As a starting point for job duties: Job descriptions can open a dialogue about any necessary accommodations (for example, for individuals with disabilities). They can also make training easier, serving as a guide for an actionable plan.
- As a means of assisting with retention and satisfaction: A job description can be seen as a snapshot of what a hire’s life within a company will look like. An accurate description can lead to an increased sense of truthfulness and loyalty.
The challenge with writing good job descriptions
Writing an accurate job description can be challenging for the recruitment team if they don't fully understand the role themselves. This is why one of the best things you can do before you start writing them is to become familiar with the job you’ll be advertising - and what it requires at the moment you begin hiring (roles and responsibilities change frequently).
The best job descriptions combine some marketing with the reality of a role, as well as its main required competencies and skills. All of these, when put together, can help you avoid making an unsuitable hire.
Tips for writing job descriptions
Great job descriptions can attract great talent - but what makes a listing effective, engaging, and targeted to the right candidates? Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when writing them.
Get the job title right
Even though we’re talking about descriptions here, the first thing you should do is make sure you are using the correct job title. After all, this is how most people will search for a listing or decide whether to learn more about it. Unusual titles can be indicative of a laid-back culture, but most people just look for roles that match their experience and skills - so, try to avoid terms like “rockstar” or “ninja” and integrate industry-standard language so you don’t miss out on good candidates.
Start with a short overview
You will want your job description to open up with a short (one to four sentences) overview of the major functions of the role and how they contribute to the company’s objectives. For example, you can start by saying something like, “Join a creative team of people dedicated to…”
Update your descriptions regularly
Make sure you review your job descriptions regularly to ensure they are always kept up to date. Businesses evolve and technology transforms. And in many cases, job roles and responsibilities change as well. If you recruit frequently, it’s good practice to check your job descriptions every two years. Focus on removing any criteria that are no longer necessary, and highlight skills that can be learned on the job. This will help you attract more diverse candidates.
Avoid over-the-top language
You don’t want to filter candidates by searching for “the best of the best.” This type of superlative language can actually prevent certain people from applying (especially those from underrepresented minorities). You don’t need the perfect traits in your hires; you should instead focus on growth potential.
Capture information from your departing staff
Offboarding is essential for all organizations because, when an employee leaves, they often take with them a library’s worth of knowledge. One of the best things you can do therefore to prepare for new hires is to make sure you have the right processes to capture these valuable insights from those leaving. For example, you can interview the departing employee about the knowledge they would share with the incoming people by asking questions such as “What are things you’ve learned that you wish you had known before starting the position”, or “What are the biggest challenges your replacement might face?”.
Highlight benefits, perks, and bonuses
Since the Great Resignation trend (which began in 2021 and saw people leaving jobs en masse), the hiring market remains quite competitive. If you want to attract the best talent, you will need to offer an attractive, diverse, and inclusive culture - so promote it all over your job description! Make sure you include any and all perks, bonuses, and other reasons why your current staff love working for you.
Create and use handover hiagrams
For many years, the only option you had for transferring an entire career’s worth of knowledge was lengthy Word docs. As we mentioned previously, a platform like imprend can help you capture the true context behind a person’s work activities, either from someone about to leave, or a current member of the team. imprend uses something called hiagrams, which are visual representations of teams, roles, projects, activities, and processes. Having access to a recently completed hiagram will help you write job descriptions that are both truthful and avoid scaring off applicants.
Writing quality job descriptions can be time-consuming, but it’s worth the extra effort - they are often the first impression your company gives to a potential staff member. The easiest way to guarantee you’re on top of everything required for a new hire is to ensure you fully understand the day-to-day life of someone in that role.