Making Job Descriptions Successful

Photo of two people in a job interview.

Job Descriptions can be more than just a list of responsibilities. They can be used to advertise the vacant position as well as serve as the reference point to determine the right person for a job. That makes it an important document because it could impact your hiring decision. Over the last few years, I have written several job descriptions and reviewed many to learn trends and innovative ideas to attract the right talent. The format below works for all positions.

Title: This is one of the most important aspect of the job description. The name of the position could bring in the right person or turn them away. Keep the title short and clear so that it captures the essence of the position without extending more than a few words. Avoid super long titles that make the list of responsibilities unnecessary.

Overview:  Use this heading to outline the significance of the position and include information about how it fits in with the vision of the company. If growth opportunities can be highlighted, this is where it could be included. Avoid making the overview a general summary of the position which often goes overlooked.

Responsibilities: List all the important aspects but use your discretion to manage the length of the description. Often this is either a very long list or non-existent. Recently I came across a job description that had left the responsibilities section blank. A job description without a description is meaningless. However it should not be an overdose of information. Bullet points that communicate the expectations of the role are most effective. If the role has different aspects, use separate headings. This keeps the information clear and could help determine performance evaluation criteria.

Skills required: Differentiate between skills required and skills preferred. It’s wise to make this an adequate filter to encourage the right people and discourage the unsuitable ones.

Reports to: Mention the manager’s title. This information has a big impact on the quality of applicants that you attract.

Amount of travel: This information might be mentioned in the list of responsibilities but it is better to include it as a separate heading especially if travel is an important part of the job.

About the company: Use this space to include a clear mission statement. Remember it’s usually more elaborate than your vision statement.

Application process: When using a job description to advertise for a position, mention the basic steps of the application process. This will prevent recruiters from being contacted multiple times about updates. It also helps the applicant stay informed about the length of the hiring process. Include information about how the applicant will be kept informed.

Try and fit all of the above in one page. Job descriptions can serve as the window to the culture of your company. Recruiters have a lot of freedom and responsibility in determining the effectiveness of this document. After all it could bring the right person on-board.

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