The job market is highly competitive, and when it comes to recruitment, job postings are key. To attract top talent, you need to make sure your company’s job descriptions are up to par.
Job descriptions are written descriptions which employers use in job postings to communicate a specific role. They not only help candidates understand the job they’re applying for, but also help employers find the right candidates during the recruitment process. However, a job description is more than just a list of duties and responsibilities. It’s an opportunity to give candidates a meaningful insight into what it’s like to work for your company and what they can expect from the role.
In this blog post, we've put together our top tips on how to write effective job descriptions. Read on to find out what to include in the description for your next job vacancy and how it will help you attract the right candidates!
Why are job descriptions important?
With millions of jobs advertised on job boards at any one time, it is crucial to attract the best applicants by standing out from the rest. A well-written job description will not only help you do this, but it will also help you weed out those who are not a good fit. This saves you time and energy in the long run, as making a bad hire can be costly and time-consuming for an organisation. If your job description catches job seekers' attention and is well-crafted, it will result in more people applying and a higher proportion of appropriate candidates.
A job description is also of extreme importance after the recruitment stage is over. It will be used as a point of reference by managers and the employee themselves throughout the employee's time in the position, so it is worth taking the time to get it right.
How to write job descriptions
Unfortunately, many companies don’t put enough thought into their job descriptions and end up with postings that are either too vague or too specific, making it difficult for candidates to understand what the role entails and whether they’re a good fit. The trick is to strike a balance between the two by being detailed yet concise.
A well-written job description will cover these key elements:
Job title and summary
First and foremost, the job title should be clear and concise. It should accurately reflect both the role and the level of seniority. For example, if you’re looking for a marketing intern, don’t title the position 'Marketing Assistant', as this will only lead to confusion down the line. You should also avoid using company jargon or technical language that might not be familiar to everyone; instead, make sure the job title is a commonly used title. After all, you want it to come up as a result on search functions!
When it comes to the actual content of your job description summary, it should be attention-grabbing and give potential candidates a good overview of what the role involves, without being overly long or complex. Briefly outline the main duties and expectations of the job.
The location and hours are also important to include in the job summary. If, for example, you’re looking for candidates who are willing to work completely remotely, 2 days a week, make sure to mention this in the posting.
Be aware of the inclusivity of the language you are using in this opening section. Use gender-neutral language by avoiding 'masculine' and 'feminine' adjectives - this will help more job seekers identify with the position and, by extension, widen your applicant pool.
The next section of the job posting is where you can really introduce your employer brand. This is your chance to market your company to potential candidates and give them a taste of what it’s like to work for you. Keep it short and sweet - a few sentences will do.
Include information about your company's culture, mission and services. It is no secret that making sure your new hire is a good cultural fit is a key factor in ensuring that the hire is a success, so including this information will attract candidates who align with your organisation's values. Using 'we' pronouns and addressing the candidates directly in the writing will help to communicate a positive and inviting company culture.
Here, it can be useful to include a link to your realistic job preview. These previews offer prospective applicants the chance to visualise working at your company.
In this section, you should list the main responsibilities and deliverables expected of the job. These should be not vague goals or generic clichés, but specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound (SMART). For example, “increase web traffic by X% within eight months” or “write X number of blog posts per week". By doing this, your job description is focusing on results rather than individual tasks (which can risk coming across as micromanagement).
Some companies make the mistake of including an overwhelming number of responsibilities in this section, but the list should be short. Remember, you’re not writing a job ad, you’re writing a job description. The goal is to give candidates a realistic idea of what the day-to-day of the job entails, so it can be a good idea to get input from your current team when writing the job description.
Remember to include key information such as who the individual in this job would report to, which departments they would work alongside and how the role's duties fit into the wider organisation.
Required skills and qualifications
This is where you list the skills and qualifications that are required for the role. The best way to determine which skills and qualifications are requirements for the role is to consult with the hiring manager, as they will have a better understanding of what they’re looking for in a candidate.
While it is important to include skills and qualifications that are absolute requirements, don't go overboard. Make distinctions between must-haves and nice additions. Check that the qualifications specified are realistic and kept to a minimum, as you don't want to discourage candidates who are skilled and capable but haven't had a privileged education from applying. Include both hard and soft skills in this section, like industry certifications, driving licences and strong written communication skills.
You should also include information on the experience that you're looking for in a candidate, but be careful with the language you use here; asking for "at least 10 years previous experience", for example, could be considered discrimination against younger job seekers, not to mention would drastically narrow your candidate pool.
Ultimately, skills will be more important than qualifications in most jobs, so consider including skills testing in your next stage of recruitment to ensure that those applying for the position have the relevant abilities.
Salary and benefits
The last section of the job posting should include information about the salary and benefits. This is your opportunity to attract candidates with a competitive compensation package that encourages them to apply.
Include a range for the salary, as well as any bonuses or commissions that may be available. This is important because, according to a survey by leading job site Indeed, 92% of UK job seekers consider salary to be key in a job description.
For benefits, mention if you offer health insurance, paid time off, flexible working etc. Don't forget to also mention any career and learning development opportunities your company can offer for this job.
As you can see, job descriptions are integral to an effective recruitment process. By writing a balanced and accurate job description, you'll be able to attract the best talent - so don't neglect this important step when your company is next hiring for a job.
Use these top tips as a template and improve your company's job descriptions!
For more information on our services or how skills tests and realistic job previews can help you make your next hire, please don't hesitate to get in touch.