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Job Description Writing Tips

Job descriptions are an essential part of hiring and managing employees. These written summaries are important tools as they:

  • Attract the right job candidates.
  • Describe the major areas of an employee’s job or position.
  • Serve as a major basis for outlining performance expectations, job training, job evaluation, and career advancement.

I often hear candidates say they have read many job descriptions, but often these descriptions don’t give them enough information to want to apply for the position. Don’t make this same mistake! Here are seven tips to help you develop a job description which communicates your needs and gives candidates a clear understanding of the job.

  1. Common Title: Use a title which is common in your industry and comparable to those used at other organizations. Candidate should be able to look at the title and already have an understanding of the job duties and requirements.

  2. Clear Language: Be clear and concise. A job description is not the place to communicate your fun corporate culture or your amazing vocabulary. It is the perfect place to be direct and specific.

  3. Accurate Description: Describe the duties, skills, and knowledge required for this position. The goal is to clearly communicate what a candidate needs to succeed in the position. I suggest breaking down the responsibilities of the job into percentages of time required for certain areas. Many times there is a laundry list of responsibilities, but the candidates have no concept of which ones make up the greatest part of the job or largest percentage of time.

  4. Be Real: Describe the position as it exists today. Don’t mislead applicants by describing what the position could grow into or become in the future.

  5. No Jargon: Avoid technical terms, acronyms, or abbreviations that are specific to your company or industry. If you must use acronyms or abbreviations spell them out. You do not want to eliminate an ideal candidate because they are not familiar with your jargon.

  6. Keep it Relative: Relate the skills, knowledge, and attributes you require which directly relate to the duties and responsibilities of the position. Avoid using a generic description of skills that are not really needed.

  7. Require What’s Required: Education, certification, specific training, or experience should not be stated as requirements of the position unless you can demonstrate that they are essential. Again, don’t create barriers between yourself and the ideal candidate that are unnecessary.

Given the tough competition for top talent, writing an effective job description is an essential step toward attracting the right individuals for your company. Resist the urge to be creative; instead focus on being clear and complete. The end result will be a description that meets your needs and those of your potential candidates.