By Emily Fisher

What is a job description?

One of the hardest parts of the recruiting process is finding the right candidate. You want to ensure that you attract the best people in the market and  you are presented with choice in determining who you would like to take on into the vacant position.

Creating a compelling and powerfully irresistible job description is absolutely essential in attracting the most qualified and fitting person to fill that role within your business.

The usefulness of a job description does not end once the candidate has been selected. Employers should continue to use the job description as a performance management tool to assert and maintain a high-performance workplace.

The key to writing an effective job description is providing enough information to grab the attention  of job seekers while keeping the description clear and concise.

The following tips will help you do just that.

What should you include in a job description?

The first thing you need to do is ask who, what and how?

  • Who do you want?
  • What do you want them to do?
  • How do you want them to do it?

Once you have answered these three questions, you have laid the foundations of your job description.

Effective title

The central piece of a job description is its title. The job title must accurately reflect the nature of the job and elude to the duties that will be performed. You won’t attract candidates with a job title like Social Media Butterfly when really what you’re looking for is Marketing Coordinator.

Job titles should be free of gender, age or any other factors that may be seen as bias or discriminatory.

Type of role

What type of engagement model do you need this person to work under in order to meet the operational needs of the business?

You must explore whether that will be casual employment, full-time or part-time or maybe an independent contractor. You might be advertising for a full-time role, but is this flexible? Let the candidates know that you are not married to the one engagement type. Flexibility in a role can be desirable and will increase your pool of worthy candidates.

Duties, responsibilities and Key Performance Indicators

The job description should contain a list of duties, responsibilities and key performance indicators (KPI’s) to inform the candidate of what tasks they will be required to perform. It will also provide objective standards that their performance will continue to be measured against once employed.

Although the list of duties should be comprehensive, you are writing a job description and not an operational manual. Keep this list as short as possible containing action, objective and purpose for each inherent requirement of the role.

Qualifications and experience

Establish the key criteria that a person within this role must have in order to perform the fullest potential. This criteria can be broken down into qualifications, technical skills and soft skills.

Qualifications is often something that a role cannot be performed without. Ensure to include any university degree, industry certification or professional registration that your candidate must possess to be considered successful for the role.

Technical skills put simply are the things that someone can do. For example, a successful candidate will be proficient in excel and have comprehensive knowledge of payroll systems.

Soft skills are the additional characteristics that you would like candidates to possess such as good communication skills, a flexible, proactive attitude and someone who works well in a team.

Be more inclined to include technical skills over soft skills. If an employee needs to be performance managed, you must be able to compare their current performance to objective standards within their job description, remembering it is easier to objectively compare candidates against their “set skills’, rather than ‘soft skills’.

Don’t only sell the role… sell the company!

It can be easy to focus exclusively on the details of the role. Show possible candidates what makes your company more attractive than others giving your candidates a glimpse into the company’s culture. In a modern professional world, positive workplace culture and work/life balance are considered a fundamental must. How does your company foster a positive workplace culture and go above and beyond to ensure that all employees have work/life balance? Be an employer of choice!

5 things to avoid in your job description

1. Internal terminology

You may be fluent in the internal language used on a day to day basis within the company but to a potential candidate you may be speaking a completely different language. Stick to well-known terminology to target the widest possible audience.

2. Discriminatory language

Unconscious bias, although frequently inadvertent, is something that can often appear within a job description. You want to promote and create a diverse workplace. Avoid gender and age specific terminology to avoid limiting the reach of your job advertisement to a limited pool of candidates.

3. Being unrealistic

Job descriptions must be an accurate representation of the role. This is a fundamental must to ensure that you attract the right candidates and that you can performance manage an employee against objective standards.

4. Negativity

Excluding candidates by stating that they won’t be considered with less than ten years’ experience is hostile and will scare many candidates into not applying even if they possess the necessary skill to perform the requirements of the role to an exceptional standard. Instead, state that the role  is of a senior level and that ten years’ experience is preferable but not essential.

Other negative language can include that the role may require additional overtime to be worked due to the demanding nature of the role. Rather, this can be phrased as the role requires hard work and perseverance in a high performing team.

5. Being mysterious

You don’t want to leave candidates asking too may questions. The job description should give them a clear understanding of what their future would look like within your company. This should not be left to their imagination.

The long game

It may seem like there is a lot of time going into something that could be so short and simple? – but remember the more accurate your job description is, the more you and your company will benefit.

Once a job description has been completed, it is not set in stone. Regularly review and develop your job descriptions to accurately reflect the day to day nature of the role and to meet the needs of the business.

Employee’s are at the heart of every business. Setting expectations and goals from the get-go will ensure performance objectives are concise and clear. An effective, well written job description will ensure you attract the right people, have a clear training and performance development plan, which in long term will retain your staff, saving your company both money and time.

Emily Fisher is Senior Workplace Relations Consultant at FCB and HR Assured. Emily regularly handles complex workplace issues and has a special interest in providing clients with comprehensive advice and solutions to ensure they can promote a functioning and compliant workplace.