Whether you’re part of your organisation’s People & Culture team or part of the leadership team, at some stage, you will need to hire a new employee.
So, you go ahead and write a job ad, interview some candidates and make an offer to the best one, right?
While it’s easy to jump right in and get started on what you think is that first step of writing a job ad – you’re actually missing a crucial stage of the recruitment process.
The job description for the role required.
What is a job description?
A job description is a complete, internal description that defines what the role entails, and its relationship to other roles within your business and to your customer.
This includes reporting lines, work standards, compensation and a progression structure.
By clearly communicating what the role entails, it clearly:
- Establishes what you as a business expect of your future employee; and
- Explains to the employee what is demanded of them and sets a benchmark for their role to be measured against.
Most importantly, it allows everyone involved in the hiring process to be on the same page for what the role requires before advertising the role.
A job description should not be confused with a job post or a job ad.
A job post is the external advertisement of an open position at your company, which is created to attract an external audience using the job description and your employee value proposition.
To put this into a catchy slogan:
Job posts sell, job descriptions tell.
Why do you need a job description?
Think of the job description as the “North Star” of your recruitment process.
It’s the document you and your team should be returning to at each stage of the hiring process to ensure that you’re evaluating candidates against the core role requirements.
You will need a job description to:
- Know what the role requires for writing the job post;
- Determine appropriate compensation for your new employee;
- Qualify candidates’ CVs;
- Formulate interview questions;
- Evaluate candidates’ responses to your interview questions; and
- Provide interview feedback to candidates who request it.
The need for a job description also extends beyond the hiring process, as it creates the benchmark for your new employees’ performance reviews and compensation negotiations down the line.
It can also be used to determine training and development areas, if your new employee isn’t meeting your clear expectations or requirements, as outlined by your job description.
Conversely, if there is no job description or if this step is rushed, you and your team will create a job post that won’t outline the role fully or is too all-encompassing.
Regardless, a non-existent or poor job description will inform a poor job post that will attract and lead you to potentially hire the wrong candidates.
So, let’s avoid that at all costs and jump into how you can write a concise job description to get the employee(s) you need.
How to structure your job description (and what to include)
Even though a job description is an internal document, consider what a job seeker might be searching for to find your role. Instead of using internal lingo such as ‘Digital Marketing Ninja’ – which you should avoid at all costs – try ‘Digital Marketing Coordinator.’
Keep it simple and the same as what you would put on the job post to ensure there is no internal confusion when candidates apply for the role.
At the top of the document, create a 1-4 sentence overview of the role’s major function and how it contributes to your organisation’s business goals.
This allows for a clear and concise ‘quick view’ of the role, which will help when writing the job post and when presenting to senior leadership.
Duties & Responsibilities
Create a list of the core responsibilities of the position – particularly those that may be unique to your organisation. This ensures that candidates and your leadership team understand the full requirements of the role for your business.
A great place to start is what the day-to-day activities of this position are, as this allows your business to ensure you’re creating the right role within your business and that candidates interested in those daily activities are attracted to the role when you choose to advertise it.
Check to see what similar roles include to make sure you have the appropriate job title for the duties and responsibilities you require.
Finally, make sure you mention who the job reports to and what your future employee’s function within your business will be. This allows you to clarify how the role will impact your wider business.
While you may want to have a list of 25 duties and responsibilities, try to shorten your list to the 5-7 key duties and responsibilities of the role. Anything more may require considering hiring a second individual to help with the skills gap in your business.
Qualifications, skills and work experience
Include a list of hard and soft skills. This could be anything from education, previous work experience, certifications, technical skills and soft skills, such as creativity or problem solving, that are essential to the role.
Much like the duties and responsibilities section, try to keep this list short to ensure that you’re able to find a candidate that has the necessary requirements specifically for the role.
An easy way to do this is splitting your list into minimum and preferred qualifications.
Minimum qualifications are what is so instrumental to the job that a candidate wouldn’t be able to do the job without them. Whereas, a candidate would be able to do the job without any of the preferred qualifications.
If there are any physical requirements for the role, such as lifting a 20kg box for a warehousing role, be sure to indicate this here.
Type of employment
Is this a role you need permanently within your business? Or is it to help with a project?
Clarifying whether a role is full-time, part-time, casual, temporary or contract is imperative for budgeting, planning your onboarding process for the successful candidate and to attract the right candidate for the role.
If your business has multiple offices, be sure to clarify where this role will be based out of – or if it’s possible to do remotely, indicate this as well.
Weekly hours and days
Clearly outline what days and times the individual would need to work. If it’s flexible, indicate what days and hours the candidate should have availability within and clearly define these days and hours with your employee when they start.
What salary range are you willing to pay for this particular role? Does that include GST, superannuation and/or recruitment fees, should you choose to outsource?
If it’s a Sales role, what’s their commission? Do they have a car or electronics allowance?
Clarifying what kind of compensation package your business is ready to provide makes it much easier during the salary negotiation phase of your recruitment process. This ensures a quick, streamlined process so you don’t lose a candidate to the competition.
Re-read to eliminate biases
Finally, before seeking sign-off from your leadership team, re-read your job description to ensure that that your job description is as accessible and diversity-friendly as possible.
Diversity should no longer be a buzzword in your business, but a reality.
Organisations with above-average gender diversity financially outperformed below-average companies by 46 to 58 per cent, according to Gallup.
Companies with high racial and ethnic diversity outperform their competitors by 35 per cent, according to McKinsey & Company.
Teams are also 3x quicker at problem-solving when they’re cognitively diverse, according to the Harvard Business Review.
The best way to hire more diversely is to include information that is valuable to your diverse team members. This might include flexible hours or work environment if your business allows for it.
It may also be a subtle shift in language to eliminate gender bias by checking adjectives on a gender decoder like this one.
By creating room for diversity and inclusion in your internal documents, you’re creating more opportunity for a diverse range of candidates when your job post goes live, without any inherent biases for when you refer back to the original job description.
Job Description Sample
So, that’s how to write a concise job description to help get the candidates you need.
Now that you’re clear on what the role requires, be sure to check out our checklist on how to update your Employee Value Proposition to ensure that your job post is stronger than your competition.