Small business tips

How to Write a Job Description

Writing job descriptions is essential for your hiring strategy. These tips will show you how to write a job description that attracts great candidates.

Choose an accurate job title

Don’t overinflate the role. Your first task when learning how to write a job description is to pick a job title that:

  • Is concise yet specific enough to identify the purpose of the role.
  • Reflects the rank of the job at hand. This might be Junior, Mid-level or Senior, to name a few.
  • Steers clear of buzz-words. Even “unicorns” or “ninjas” often do not describe themselves by these labels.

The lesson: Don’t put out an ad for a generic “Marketing Specialist” when what you really need is a “Search Engine Optimization Associate”

Define core job responsibilities and expectations

Everyone has seen a job ad with a laundry list of job responsibilities and expectations. Candidates come away from these ads without a clear sense of what a day in the life of that role looks like. Use the job responsibilities section to paint a picture of day-to-day duties in the role. Use bulleted points and identify percentages for each to let on how much of an employee’s time would be taken up by each task. Responsibilities not outlined here can be discussed in the interview.

Give a general idea of which department the employee would be reporting to and which departments he would be interacting with. At the same time, provide a sense of the culture at your business so that you attract candidates who fit into that culture.

Don’t forget to include non-negotiable expectations like the need for travel or evening or weekend shifts. This will help whittle down applications to candidates who can accommodate these expectations.

Distinguish required vs nice-to-have skills and qualifications

The required skills and qualifications section of a job ad can be the deciding factor in whether or not a candidate applies. Asking for too many years of experience or excessive academic credentials can turn away the very candidate you hoped to attract. This is why it’s helpful to separate non-negotiable and preferred skills and qualifications.

Think about the minimum repertoire required to successfully perform the job and include it in the required section. Place non-essential skills or qualifications in the preferred section. These skills are not an absolute must but could prove valuable on the job.

Strictly avoid listing requirements on the basis of age, gender, race or other protected statuses. Doing so could put you in violation of federal and state equal opportunity and anti-discrimination statutes.

Don’t leave salaries to guesswork

Services like Glassdoor have already begun to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding salaries. If you don’t include any mention of salary in your job ad, candidates will find it from another source. You don’t have to give a specific salary figure, but a salary range is helpful. At a minimum, include “at market” “above market” or “commensurate with experience” to tell candidates that the salary would be competitive with similar jobs in the industry.

Highlight job benefits

Remember that job descriptions do not exist only to help you find the perfect candidate. They should also entice your ideal candidate to apply for the job and work for you.

An easy way to do this is to list some of the key benefits or perks of the job as bulleted items at the end of the job ad. These might include gym discounts, vacation days and other small-business-friendly benefits. If a candidate is already employed elsewhere, he will want to know if the benefits you offer are equal or better.

About the author

Manasa Reddigari

Manasa Reddigari has tackled topics ranging from computer software to home remodeling in her more-than-a-decade-long career as a writer and editor. During her stint as a scribe, she's been featured by MileIQ, Trulia, and other leading digital properties. Connect with her on copyhabit.com to find out what she's been writing about lately.

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                    The Growth Center does not constitute professional tax or financial advice. You should contact your own tax or financial professional to discuss your situation.