How to Write a Job Description

It’s easy to write a job description. You just need to outline your expectations, requirements, and responsibilities in a manner that also conveys the company culture in a nutshell. You can write well if you know exactly what you want out of it. 

Getting a good job description out there is important for your recruitment to be successful. Indeed, a popular job board that millions of potential talent use every day, says that a good job description is how you attract talents to your company. Imagine a candidate looking for a Sales Executive Job, he/she has dozens of companies in front of them that are looking for that role, however, which company the candidate applies for is majorly based on how the company describes the job aka the Job Description. It has to convey the role well; it needs to convey to the candidate the kind of company you are and why you are worthy of their time to apply for. And a good job description will get you tons of resumes and a wider set of options to choose from. 

So, let’s write a good job description. This guide shows you:

  • How to write a good job description
  • Checklist to get a great job description
  • How to booby trap your job description

How to write a good job description

All great job descriptions have the following four pillars: 

  1. Job Title 
  2. Description
  3. Requirements
  4. Responsibilities

Let us walk through how to perfect writing each of these. 

  • Job title

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 clued 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.

  • Job description

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. 

  • The context of the role in a team/function/organization. How many other people do you have in a similar role?
  • How important is the role of the company’s mission? What is the company’s mission?
  • Company culture. Give people a clear idea of what they’re getting into.
  • Relationships. Who will they be working with? Who will they report to?

free job descriptions

  • Responsibilities

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.

I say, “concise” because the more tasks you add to the JD, the more restrictive the role becomes in the eyes of the candidate. 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.

  • 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. 

 

Job Desriptions

Checklist to craft a great job description

  • Have you properly formatted your job description? Split the paragraphs, add necessary space, divide the sections to make it easy for your candidate to capture the crux. Have you included information about the company, its mission statement, values, and the organization’s culture to provide full context? When a candidate comes across a job posting in a job aggregator, they won’t be able to use the rest of your website as a reference.
  • Is your job description neutral and grammatically correct? The last thing you want in your job description is grammar mistakes because this is the very first impression you make on your potential hires. Ensure the language of your job description reflects your organizational culture. 
  • Avoid long sentences. Break your information into simple sentences and easily understandable. 
  • Use the active voice. Passive voice makes the job description feel too rigid and disconnected.
  • Be inclusive in your job description, do not show prejudices. 
  • Add any requirements that are deal-breakers as compulsory to not give false hope to any candidate.   

Booby trapping the job description

HR Gazette has a great article about scanning resumes really quickly where they mention that 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.

One last piece of advice before we sign off?

Keep it short.

Make every word matter. No one wants to read a saga.