How to Write a Job Description (Guide)
Potential candidates are always keen to know what is expected out of them and what will be the criteria for evaluation. Hence, a great job description or position description will add a great deal of value to employers. Writing a job description entails a thought process that determines how critical the job is, how the position relates to other positions, all the specific job resonsibilities and duties, and it identifies the skills & competencies that a potential candidate must possess.
A good job description outlines the key skills, education details, the expected job roles and responsibilities to name a few. It serves as the basis for interviewing candidates, and also helps later during new employee orientation and finally helps during evaluation as well. Understanding the importance of writing a good position description is sign of good management.
One of the common mind blocks that most of the hiring managers encounter is when attempting to concisely write a job description for an open position. Whether it is recruiting a new team member or while planning for a new hiring drive, writing an accurate and precise yet lucrative job description proves to be a challenge for most hiring managers.
Hence, it is imperative that one of the primary know-how of any hiring manager is to learn how to write effective and impactful job descriptions. This is not an optional requirement for them but it is an absolute must-have skill. A well written job description is one of the most important places to begin with while hiring good talent. A not so well written job description ends up in attraction all kinds of irrelevant talent which adds to the headache of the hiring managers, as it requires them to sift through the applications to find their required candidate suited for the available position in hand. This article is an attempt to make the job of hiring managers easy by providing them with handy tips on how to write an effective job description in order to attract the right talent pool.
Step by step guide: How to Write a Job Description
1. Jot down the key job roles & job responsibilities before you start writing down your proper job description. It is understandable that you have a clear idea in your mind what would be the expected roles and responsibilities of the newly hired member on a day to day basis. But it is equally important for you to jot down these pointers on paper in order to segregate your thoughts in a better fashion. It will also help you in identifying the types of skills and the amount of experience that you should be looking for during hiring for a certain requirement.
2. Refine your job description. Now that you have a basic job description in front of you, the next ideal step is to revisit your description and fine tune it. Follow these guidelines to gain clarity:
- Prioritize what takes precedence amongst the range of responsibilities.
- Identify the reporting structure.
- Identify the expected output from the potential candidate.
- If the role is for a managerial level, identify the purview of his/her authority.
3. Determine the essential employment criteria for the said requirement. Based on the guidelines stated in the previous point, create a well defined job description keeping in mind the key criteria. Your job description should entail functional qualifications required for the job, key skills, and certain character traits that the potential candidate must possess in order to successfully fulfil the required position. Avoid getting confused with the skill sets required, qualifications, and personal characteristics, as there are subtle differences to each of these. The guidelines stated below will give you more clarity on this:
- Qualifications entail education, experience, and any other significant reference that the candidate needs to possess in order to effectively perform the role/job.
- Skills entail a certain category of abilities that the candidate needs to possess in order to perform his/her job effectively. These can be technical and non-technical in nature depending on the particular requirement that you may have in hand. These will also fom the basic elements of the performance appraisal.
- Personal characteristics are a little tricky, as they are subjective and not directly measurable. They cannot be distinctly defined and identified as well. However, having said that, you need to still look for generic character traits in a candidate such as proactiveness, strong personality, positive outlook, temperament etc.
- Key Result Areas. What are the metrics that determine whether the employee is actually successful in the role?
The above mentioned employment criteria is especially important to consider if there are a lot of candidates vying for a single position. Hence, if you have a clearly defined set of key requirements in hand, it will enable you to filter a lot of candidates from the list who does not fit the bill for that particular role.
4. Decide on a salary band. Salary is a very important part of your job description in order to lure candidates for the requirement in hand. However, it is up to you to whether include it in your job description or not, but it is certainly advisable. While deciding the salary band, you need to consider the candidate’s education and experience. You should also consider the standard salary benchmark that is applicable within your organisation, department, or the industry.
5. Write the actual job description. Now that you have all the facts and criteria outlined, it is ideal for you now to write the job description. Ensure that your description is clear, functional, and practical. In terms of the job description template, ensure that you include the following key elements:
- The job title/designation, the relevant department, and the individual to whom the candidate will be reporting.
- List the key responsibilities that the position entails and state the expectations from the said position.
- List the job duties and job responsibilities in order of priority.
- List the skills and characteristics that a potential candidate must possess in order to effectively function within a team. Since these are generic skills and characteristics, you can state a few of the common traits that are usually expected from a candidate.
- The Key Result Areas
List any other requirements that the position may demand and also state the expected education qualification sought for.
While you are writing a job description, it is important for you to keep in mind that the objective is not just to attract the right and best candidate, but it is also an opportunity to convey to the prospective candidates the benefits of being associated with your organisation. Include a few points on your unique value proposition as an employer in order to distinguish your job description from the rest in this market of cut throat competition.
It is important to remember that while you would certainly want to hire the potential candidate at the earliest, ensure that you do not end up picking up an unsuitable candidate in your rush to fill the position. Hence it makes sense that you spend some time in writing a clear and concise job description to seek a candidate that fits your requirement. Spending some time at this stage will not only save your time, effort, and money but it will also give you the advantage of choosing the right candidate for the job.