11 Effective Tips to Write a Job Description

We asked the experts for one piece of advice they’d like to give someone before writing a job description and here’s what they said:

 

A perfect job analysis 
A clear job title (sticking to your keywords)
Description 
Requirements 
Responsibilities 
Bury Secret instructions
Exclude Impractical Skills
Stick to your keywords
Portray Your Organization as Exemplary
Focus on Skills, Knowledge, Achievements, and Expectations
Include Contact Information
Avoid Using Metaphors
Highlight Day-to-Day Activities
Include Compensation and Salary Information
Seek Insights From Current Employees
Be Specific with Requirements
 

1. A perfect job analysis (Seek Insights From Current Employees)

The first step to writing a great JD starts with conducting a perfect job analysis. If you can first grasp what the role is all about, then it’s just that much easier to translate that into your description. Talk to your hiring managers, the current employees on the same role if there are and other employees who interact with people on the role you are hiring for.

“One thing that you must take into consideration while crafting a job description is the current employee’s insight. 

Usually, job descriptions are written by HR professionals who may not necessarily have a good understanding of the job. And who can tell you more about a position than employees doing that job right now? For sure, they can even give you an overview of a perfect candidate. So while crafting a job description, involve the current team. Let them help you determine the responsibilities, demands, or objectives of the position. 

Allow them to point out skills necessary to do well in the role, and non-negotiable things like education, years of experience, or knowledge of tools and technology. Knowing what the team wants will make you find the right candidate faster and easier.”

Agata Szczepanek, MyPerfectResume

 

2. A clear job title (avoid using metaphors)

Open a Word doc (or Google Doc or MS Online doc) and write the job title. Take a moment and say it out loud to yourself. Will it make sense to anyone who’s not glued into your company’s culture? 

For example, Happiness Hacker sounds like an impressive job title, but it doesn’t tell you exactly what the job is about. Not until you read the job description. Unfortunately, not all candidates will bother to read the job description if they don’t understand the job title. 

You might lose some valuable candidates purely because of an obscure job title. Pick a job title that clearly conveys what the position is about. You can use “Happiness Hacker” if you must, but please put “Customer Service” in parentheses so that people know what you’re talking about.

“Avoid terms like "Rock star" or "code ninja" when referring to positions. Not everyone resonates with these kinds of metaphorical ideas of what a job means. You'll lose out on highly-qualified candidates who don't see themselves as action heroes just for doing their jobs. 

The same can be said for language that's specific to a certain hobby or niche interest. A lot of baseball metaphors, for example, slip into our language at work, like when we talk about needing someone who can "knock it out of the park." These terms work when you're speaking to people who know the reference, but you can never guarantee that in a job ad, so be specific and gain inclusivity.

David Patterson-Cole, Moonchaser

 

3. Job description (Focus on Skills, Knowledge, Achievements and Expectations)

A lot of companies skip the description in favor of getting straight to the point. However, it’s good to use the opportunity to set some context about the position and its importance within the company. So, don’t skip writing a description and before you write one, go through this list and see if your description has answers to all these questions. 

“Many Job Descriptions are still in the same traditional format as when they were created 30 years ago. We keep including the name of the required degree and number of years of experience. Is it really that critical for the position? 

Focus on the skills, knowledge, type of job achievements, and what the person in the role will accomplish. What is critical to the candidate being successful in the position?”

Scott Baker, Stage 3 Leadership

 

4. Responsibilities (Highlight Day-to-Day Activities)

The responsibilities section of a job description helps the candidate understand their typical workday if they join this role in your company. It will give them a clear idea of the things they will be accountable for in the role. 

To list these responsibilities, make a concise list that follows this structure: action, object, and purpose. For example, “Post on social media accounts to increase follower count.” – is a good way to list the social media responsibility that comes with the role. 

The more tasks you add to the JD, the more restrictive the role becomes in the eyes of the candidate.That’s why keeping it concise helps So, prioritize the tasks you want to add and put in just the top 5. 

You must define what success means for this role. For example, we consider a social media marketer successful if there is a “lot” of social media engagement. Increasing follower count month-on-month and posting 5 times a day is a part of it, but it doesn’t encapsulate success. 

By defining success, you’re also helping candidates figure out what they should showcase in their cover letters. 

“It is essential that the candidates know what the job entails besides the general qualifications needed. By highlighting the day-to-day activities of the position, the posting will ensure the applicants understand not only the work environment but also the activities they will be exposed to daily. 

This type of detail will help the applicant decide if the job and the company are a good fit for them. You will attract the best candidate for the position when you are very specific about what the job entails.”

Mark Daoust, Quiet Light

 

5. Requirements 

Aka “What the candidate should know and be”. Divide your requirements into skills and competencies. Skills are what your candidate would have learned over time, either through education or experience. Competencies are attributes that will help a candidate become successful in a role. 

For example, a good command of a language is a skill, but the ability to effectively communicate is a competency. It’s always a good idea to keep a specific someone as a model in your head while writing requirements because you don’t want to end up writing a job description for a purple unicorn. Once candidates apply, it’s a good idea to come back to this section and make a few changes based on the observed market trends. 

“Being specific in your requirement alleviates the need for lengthy back and forth communication. For example, if I am looking for an SEO specialist, it's useless just to add 'experienced' or 'technically skilled' to the description. These blanket terms could mean a myriad of attributes that are not at the top of my list. Instead, I would advertise for 'experience with on-page, off-page, and be able to rapidly build roadmaps and SEO plans for clients', ensuring more success in finding the correct employee.”

Shoaib Mughal, Marketix

 

6. Bury secret instructions in there

One sure-fire way to know an interested candidate is to bury secret instructions in the job description like an assignment or a code they can add to the resume to flag themselves. So, include something super tiny and specific in there so you know who’s really interested in the role. 

 

7. Exclude Impractical Skills

They say aim for the stars and you’ll land on the moon - it’s never true when it comes to job descriptions, unless you have the next 10 years to fill a role. Have practical expectations, and job descriptions that reflect the same.

“Recruiters frequently exaggerate listing skills which significantly limits the pool of potential candidates. This often involves dimensions with low relevance. For instance, many IT developer roles require experience in a very narrow and unpopular business segment. When paired with a niche programming language set, it narrows down the number of qualified candidates to just a few. At the same time, across all such dimensions, some can be easily learned. While mastering a certain technology may take years, grasping the industry's caveats within that framework can take weeks or days. 

This trade-off between the skills and candidate number is important to optimize as it may significantly impact time to fill and recruitment cost.”

Michael Sena, SENACEA

8. Stick to your keywords

Keywords are the common threads that help your candidates really find you in a sea of employers. So don’t forsake them.

“Sticking to your top 5 keywords is very important when crafting a job description. You should have a list of at least 3-5 keywords that can quickly describe the employee you are looking for, what the job ensues, and to include in a resume. It saves a lot of time and energy when sifting through resumes when you have the keywords handy.”

Shaun Price, MitoQ

 

9. Portray your organization as exemplary

There are a hundred ways to communicate your employer brand, your job descriptions are definitely one of the best.

“If there's anything the pandemic imparted to the corporate world, it's that the employer-employee balance has shifted and workers now have all the power in this tight talent market. This is why crafting a job description demands employers and organizations to first self-reflect and identify the reasons why good talents must work for them and not their competitors. 

Addressing insufficiencies and ensuring the company is an ideal workplace provides a justifiable reason for the job description to be as tough and firm as it needs to be. Retaining and attracting good talent depends on whether their duties and responsibilities, as stated in their job description, are proportionate to the treatment and benefits they experience from the organization.”

Kris Lippi, I Sold My House
 

10. Include Contact Information

“If you're distributing a job opening on a number of platforms, make sure that key contact information doesn't get lost in the fray. Otherwise, talented candidates might not know how to get in touch or apply to your open position. It might leave the wrong impression or turn people away if you forget to do so. 

The solution is to include a clear point of contact for applicants to correspond with. This could be an email address, LinkedIn profile, or even a phone number depending on your professional preference. This keeps the line of communication open and makes it easier to reach out to shortlisted candidates. A seamless hiring process makes things easy for your human resources department, so be as thorough as possible before you publish a job opening.”

Aaron Gray, Agency 101

In fact, you could even use an email or number that registers easily in one or two glances.

11. Include Compensation and Salary Information

Candidates care about compensation. Period. It’s the primary motivational factor. So, at least include a salary range.

“Folks crafting job descriptions should always ensure that the posting includes salary information. This has always been important but is especially crucial today as increasing numbers of applicants view the exclusion of this information as a major red flag. 

Most job seekers today even consider this information to be the most important aspect of a job description. Excluding compensation information or at the very least, a salary range, not only looks bad on your company, but it also unintentionally filters out some incredible talent that would have otherwise been interested and enthusiastic. 

While some companies find the thought of including this information to be rather uncomfortable, the reality is that it’s much more uncomfortable to spend time and resources interviewing talent that doesn’t quite match as a result of not including this crucial aspect in one’s job description.”

Gigi Ji, KOKOLU

Checklist to craft a great job description

Other frequently asked questions (with quick and crisp answers)

1. What is a job description?

A job description is a piece of information shared by the employer with prospective candidates to outline the role and responsibilities of the job being offered, the skills and qualifications required to perform the job, and perks and benefits of signing up for the job.

2. What should I write in a job description?

A job description should contain:

3. What's the importance of a Job description?

The job description is THE gateway to the company, for future employees. It is crucial that it has a correct understanding of what the role entails and the kind of person the company is looking for.

4. How do you write a job description summary?